How to Lose your Domain Name

Your domain name is an important business asset. The $$$ value of that asset is dependent on many factors, including the popularity of your site. But to lose your domain name is not only a financial loss of a business asset, but a loss in that the new owners can do whatever they want with it. They can attach it to a porn site. They can attach it to an ad site. They can sell it to a competitor. Four to six times a year, I am called to help someone who has lost or can’t access their domain name. Here is how it happens:

The Site owner doesn’t know what a domain name is

Some years ago, I spoke to a local restaurant owner who told me he had lost his website. A website isn’t like your car keys, you can’t misplace it. The real problem was that he didn’t understand what it means to have a website and how a website works. The person who built his website had bartered for meals. She had showed them the website, and they assumed it was theirs without learning what that meant. When I checked out the address to the site, I found out that he didn’t have a domain name. The address was tagged onto something else in some sort of free web system. That means that he didn’t own a website.

His situation was loosely like having a WordPress.com website. If you have a WordPress.com website, your address is yourname.wordpress.com. You don’t own it. You have just used a free system that allows you to have a website under their name. So, the first way to lose a website is not to have a domain name, registered with you as the owner.

The site owner doesn’t pay the bill to renew

Domain names are registered a year at a time. You can also register for multiple years. It’s generally less expensive if you register for multiple years. It is very important that you, the owner, know where your domain is registered and that you can log into the account.

Your registrar will email you when your domain name is close to expiration. But, if the email address in your account is expired, you will never receive those notices. A similar issue is when an employee or contractor does the work of registering your name, even if they put you as the owner, if it’s tied to their email address, they receive the emails. Or, they don’t receive the emails if they change email addresses. In either case, your business asset is not available to you.

The original developer registered the domain name in their own name, making themselves the owner

This is a mistake that only an amateur should make. Just like it would be wrong for a bookkeeper to put your money into their bank account, it’s wrong for a developer to put your domain name into their name.

The original developer registered the domain name in the owner’s name, but put it in their own registrar account.

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