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I recently secured a few domains names for a new client (created a new account and put in her name). I did use my own email address for the contact record on file, just as a temporary measure.
Within 48 hours I received three solicitation emails offering web design services for the new domain(s) I had procured. The emails promised way too much (5 page website and hosting) for way too little ($150) A little research and all of these companies were sketchy at best. A lost marketing effort if you ask me, albeit a spammy one.
But then I became a little irritated, wondering if I was going to get hundreds of these kind emails just because I did not opt to buy private domain registration (an additional $9.99/year). And I really wanted to know just how people are getting this data.
A quick search on “whois scraping” and therein lays the answer. These suspect individuals use a script to scrape the WhoIs database (a public database containing millions of domain name records and all the details that go with them, including name, address, and email and phone numbers). They then spam the published email addresses with their poorly developed business proposition.
Coming full circle, what really is at the core of this issue is privacy. Assuming you are entering the correct information when you secure a new domain name, your contact information, down to your address (and for many, this is their HOME address), is available for anyone to see (or scrape).
So, what are your options? Certainly you do not HAVE to publish your real street address or for that matter any “real” information. But, you do want to use a real email address, so that you can get notifications of changes to your domain such as an upcoming expiration. A gmail email address is good for this purpose.
If you simply do not want ANY information associated with a domain published, go ahead and get Private Registration when securing your domain; they will typically offer this service at a discount initially ($7.99/year) or you can always add this to your account at a later date for a slightly higher fee.
Is your privacy worth $9.99/year? For me, no. But it’s definitely something to consider depending on the type of business YOU have and what information you are making public. Not that people can’t get this straight from your website, but that’s the price we pay to be part of the Internet community.
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