Who REALLY Owns Your Website?

website ownershipYou have a website, you pay the bills, and you activate the domain renewals. The email notices come to you, the business is registered under your name, and you pay the taxes. So you must own your own website, right?

Maybe not.

When our team takes on a new website development project, we are sometimes shocked to find that our client, the rightful owner of their website and domain, does not actually have full ownership on paper. Often, we find that a previous web developer, the IT director that left the company years ago, or a former employee is listed as the sole contact for the domain.

The problem?

If the sole contact for your website is someone you no longer want to have access to your site, you run the risk of some serious problems, including:

  • Domain Redirecting

    • The sole contact for your domain registration has the ability to redirect your domain to another website or shut it down completely. Without your permission.
  • Domain Hijacking

    • This person potentially could hold onto your domain if you’re involved in a disagreement with them. You can likely get it back, but it may require taking them to court. And that’s not a situation any business owner wants to find themselves in.
  • Loss of Domain Control

    • At the very least, if you don’t have control of your website’s domain, you will need the person who does have control to help you move or transfer it if you ever want to do so. Considering a move to a new hosting provider? You’ll need access to the domain registration. If you don’t have it, it can cause significant delays and additional (costly) hours.

The Good News:

There’s a very easy way to find out who is listed as your domain’s point of contact. And it’s perfectly acceptable to have your web developer, IT director, or another involved employee be listed as an additional contact; just not the ONLY contact.

To check your domain registration, simply visit WhoIs.com, enter your primary domain name in the WhoIs search field, and click ‘Lookup’. If you find that you need to make changes to contact info, we suggest doing this immediately before you run into future problems.