The domain name registries have been toughening up on accurate registration contact details (to combat criminal activity online). It’s therefore important that you maintain accurate contact details for all your domain names and respond to any verification requests promptly to avoid suspension.
Who are the domain name registries?
If you have an American domain name (e.g ending .com or.org), your domain name is managed by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). If you have a UK domain name (e.g ending .co.uk or.org.uk), your domain name is governed by Nominet.
And of course, you may have multiple domain names, governed by different registries. Note that there are other domain name types (e.g. .biz, .tv, etc.) managed by other registries but ICANN and NOMINET are usually applicable.
What is Domain Name Verification?
The domain name registries now routinely request verification when new domain names are registered, when contact details are updated and sometimes just for routine checking.
You may receive emails directly from the domain name registries or from your domain name supplier asking you to verify your name and contact details. Nominet verify your name (or limited company if applicable) with electoral rolls, Royal Mail postcode records and Companies House. If discrepancies are discovered or a name cannot be verified, they will usually seek further information from you directly.
How does this affect you?
It is important that you maintain accurate contact details for your domain. For example, if your domain name is connected to an email address that you can no longer use, the registries will know this and your domain name could be suspended until further action is taken.
If you receive an email requesting verification of your domain name, you should usually go ahead. But please check the legitimacy of the email first. It won’t be long before criminals realise that this method offers a great opportunity for sending out legitimate looking phishing emails.
Whether we like it or not, verification and accuracy of contact details must be taken very seriously.
These measures have been taken by the registries to clamp down on domains used for malicious and criminal purposes. It theoretically provides the authorities a better chance of tracking down those responsible. In reality, most criminals will undoubtedly find easy ways to get around this (using false identities). It’s also rather silly to ask registrants to click links in emails (for verification) from organisations they’ve not familiar with.
Nevertheless, these procedures are now widely in place and you may have experienced these already. You need to be aware of this information and to act accordingly when required.
Otherwise your domain name could be suspended, your website will stop displaying and all your email accounts will stop functioning.
Websites where you can check your domain records publicly:
- www.nominet.uk .uk domains only (look for the pink WHOIS search box)
- www.who.is (can be used for all domain types)
Note that public records will not display telephone numbers or email addresses for privacy reasons. These need to be checked directly with your supplier.