I often say that you should know check to see exactly how your domain name is registered online, so that you know who owns it – but where do you look?
I recommend using BetterWhoIs.com for domain name searches. You’ll not only find out who owns the domain but when it was purchased, when the registration is due to expire, and you can find out where a website is hosted.
Once you go there, you’ll see a box in which to enter the domain name. Do so – then you’ll come to a page that asks you to enter a 4-digit security code that they give you. Go ahead and do that.
(You can ignore the rest of the stuff on that main page – it’s mostly ads. For example, I wouldn’t pay Registrar.com $20 for your domain name – you can register a domain at 1and1.com for half that price.)
When you’ve done so, you’ll see the results page.
The first thing you’ll see is whether or not the domain name is AVAILABLE (which means no one has purchased it) or RESERVED – which means someone owns it.
If the domain was not registered privately*, you’ll then see interesting info such as where the domain was registered (such as Godaddy.com) , where it’s hosted (the Name Servers) and if you keep on scrolling down…
You’ll get to the good stuff.
What you’re most interested in is who is listed as the REGISTRANT. That person or company is the legal owner of your domain name. It should be you.
Very often it’s your web designer – and if they bought your domain name for you, they may have done the initial purchases in their name. That’s pretty typical – but when they’re done with the site and you’ve paid them for their work, they should transfer ownership to you.
If it’s not you – contact the person listed as the Registrant and ask to get that fixed. Ask for the username and password to log into your domain name registrar.
Even if you paid for a domain name and website, and you own it – in practical terms, he who controls the usernames and passwords owns the site.
*If your domain name was registered privately – which means that ownership names and contact info are not publicly displayed like this – a third party’s information will be displayed, such as the Registration company itself.