Common causes of domain name loss

The most common causes of domain name loss include:

  1. Domain name expiration
  2. Domain name theft
  3. Inaccurate or outdated registrar contact information

Domain name expiration

In the same way that a car has a record of ownership, so does a domain name. When you register a domain, you reserve ownership over the domain for a certain period of time. Year after year, you extend your ownership over the domain by renewing it before it reaches the end of its registration term.

The most common reason that people lose their domain name is that they failed to realize the domain name had expired. 

  1. Keep track of your domain name(s) expiration date. If you have more than one domain, consider consolidating your domains with a registrar who offers domain consolidation features. This allows you to set up a master account and have all of your domain names and expiration dates on one dashboard, as well as make changes to all of your domains at once.
  2. Consider renewing your domain early and for a longer period of time. If your domain name is valuable to your business, you might want to renew your domain early and opt to renew it for a longer period of time, ie. in five years increments.
  3. Consider domain auto-renewal, if your domain registrar offers it. By opting for domain auto-renewal, your domain registrar will proceed to renew your domain just before it expires.
  4. Keep your contact information up to date. Most domain expirations are caused by failure to receive renewal notices. Most registrars no longer send out renewal notices via postal mail. This means if your email address is out of date, you will not receive renewal notices.
  5. Add your registrar’s domain name to your email account’s spam filter “approved sender” list. Often, if you are using a spam filtering service, there is a chance domain renewal notices from your registrar are sent to the Spam or Junk folder.

Domain name theft

Domain names can be hijacked or stolen if you are not careful. Many domain hijackers “steal” the domain by submitting a fraudulent domain transfer request and tricking an unsophisticated domain owner into giving them control of the name. At this point, legal options can be expensive and time consuming.

  1. Be careful who is listed in your domain contact information. You or your organization should always be listed as the domain owner and administrative contact, not your webmaster or web designer.
  2. Implement Registrar Lock. Most registrars offer a service called Registrar Lock (or Domain Lock) which can help prevent your domain from being accidentally or illegally transferred without your permission. When a domain is “locked” it  can only be transferred after you log into your account and unlock it. While Registrar Lock won’t protect you from anyone who has access to your account, it can create extra hurdles for someone trying to get the domain transferred.
  3. Opt for Domain Privacy, a feature that most registrars offer free or for a small monthly charge. The Domain Privacy feature prevents your name, address and contact details from being made publicly available in Whois records. Many domain hijackers mine the Whois records for these information so they can impersonate you and attempt to have your domain transferred. Some might even attempt to contact you to fool you into revealing your account password.
  4. Choose a strong password when creating accounts for your domain names. Your domain account is where you can manage your domain name’s settings and features, such as transfers, renewals, DNS changes, domain contact information and details, etc. You certainly don’t want unauthorized persons to access your domain account. Always choose complex passwords with mixed characters, numbers, upper- and lower-case letters. This will make your password harder to guess or try.
  5. Be wary of any domain related correspondence you do not recognize. It is known that domain hijackers and devious registrars send out mass amounts of domain transfers disguised as domain renewal alerts. Even just a small percentage of confused registrants accidentally confirm the transfer is already enough to make it worth their while. When in doubt, contact your original registrar to verify any suspicious emails or snail-mail.

Inaccurate or outdated registrar contact information

If your domain registrar cannot get in touch with you, they can’t remind you to renew or notify you if there are suspicious activities on your account.

  1. Keep your account contact information up-to-date. In addition to sending renewal notices or account summaries, your domain registrar might use your contact information for account management features such as account verification, sending forgotten passwords, etc. 
  2. Keep your account billing information valid as well, especially if your domain is set to renew automatically.
  3. When you provide a contact email address, use a permanent email address (one that you will use and keep permanently). Avoid using one from a free service that might expire if you don’t use it regularly.