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Remember those domain name email verification emails you used to ignore?

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has made changes to the process that you must follow to update the Registrant contact info in your account, including any changes to name, organization, email address, or ADMIN email address on your domains. Plus as of January 1, 2014, you MUST verify your email address, You MUST click the validation link in the email and enter the key provided, otherwise the domain name will be suspended (i.e. this means your website goes down as well). Some instances within after 72 hours, others within 15 days.

When you update your Registrant info on a domain, this new process sends an email to BOTH the existing email address being replaced and the new email address for the Registrant contact. Both recipients are now required to approve the update.

In the new ICANN agreement, the WHOIS Accuracy Program Specification has been updated. Not only are registrars required to verify the whois data, section 1 (f) outlines the new requirements for email or phone verification:

Verify:

  1. the email address of the Registered Name Holder (and, if different, the Account Holder) by sending an email requiring an affirmative response through a tool-based authentication method such as providing a unique code that must be returned in a manner designated by the Registrar, or the telephone number of the Registered Name Holder (and, if different, the Account Holder) by either (A) calling or sending an SMS to the Registered Name Holder’s telephone number providing a unique code that must be returned in a manner designated by the Registrar, or (B) calling the Registered Name Holder’s telephone number and requiring the Registered Name Holder to provide a unique code that was sent to the Registered Name Holder via web, email or postal mail. In either case, if Registrar does not receive an affirmative response from the Registered Name Holder, Registrar shall either verify the applicable contact information manually or suspend the registration, until such time as Registrar has verified the applicable contact information. If Registrar does not receive an affirmative response from the Account Holder), Registrar shall verify the applicable contact information manually, but is not required to suspend any registration.

Unfortunately innkeepers are just now becoming aware of this, as some domains that were originally registered. were in many cases registered years ago. What this also means, and is very important for innkeepers to be aware of, is if they sell their inn and all the marketing attached to the sale, including a domain name, that if you make an owner change, and you forget to verify the domain name, then the domain name will be parked on other DNS (Domain Name System). This means that if you use it for a website, then the website will go down until reactivated.

If you don’t verify the email address, you may end up with this on your website.

ICANN will never send you domain renewals or  verifications by postal mail,  nor will your domain registrar.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. Originally, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and other entities performed these services under U.S. Government contract. ICANN now performs the IANA function.

As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes. The DNS translates the domain name you type into the corresponding IP address, and connects you to your desired website. The DNS also enables email to function properly, so the email you send will reach the intended recipient. (From: http://archive.icann.org/tr/english.html)

While there are hundreds of legal domain name registrars, whoever you choose to register or transfer a domain name to, make sure it’s on ICANN’s list of accredited registrars: https://www.icann.org/registrar-reports/accredited-list.html

Acorn Internet wrote a blog post about this a few months ago as well “IGNORE THOSE ICANN EMAILS AT YOUR PERIL“, unfortunately we are seeing more innkeeper’s websites show up weekly that are not paying attention to these emails, and don’t know or don’t recognize the importance of this, and their websites are offline and losing them business.

Here are some often used and affordable registrars for small businesses:

Some Domain Basics for Innkeepers

First and most important of all, make sure you own and have access to your domain name. Webmasters will frequently register a domain for a client, but will sometimes put it under their own name as the owner.  Even if a website company registers the domain with you as the owner, if you don’t have access to the account, that doesn’t help you if the company is unresponsive, has an issue with you, forgets or neglects to renew your domain, or the company goes out of business.

Check to see where your domain is registered, and if you don’t have access to it under your own account, make it your first priority to have it moved immediately. Most domain registrars are very helpful with transferring a domain to another account. Remember if your domain goes, so does your website.

When signing up for a new domain name or transferring one to another registrar. These are some things to look for, they are sometimes buried in the fine print of the registrar’s website, but are important to be aware of, as they can cost you extra money, and in some cases a huge hassle down the road.

Contract, Duration and Transfers:

Registrars offer a variety of registration options, many offer discounts for multiple year registrations. Always check out the fine print because there can be a significant bump in price when renewing, as well as there may be fees attached to transferring to another registrar. There may also be a time stipulation regarding transfers.

Customer Service:

Make sure the registrar has a 24/7 customer service  support number and has a good customer service record. Check the Better Business Bureau, as well as Google the name and look for reviews. You want to also make sure they have stated policies on compliance issues, and that you are able to get a hold of them in case of a problem or issue.

Additional Fees:

Most domain registrations come with standard pricing, but registrars differ in pricing by quite a bit on things like private registration, domain forwarding (if you have multiple domains and want to forward them to one primary one), email, email forwarding, DNS management (The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities), and domain name protection.

Additional Services:

Many registrars offer full packages and services, like hosting, email, SSL certificates (SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, an encryption technology that was created by Netscape. SSL creates an encrypted connection between your web server and your visitors’ web browser allowing for private information to be transmitted), website builders and SEO (Search Engine Optimization Tools). Because Google is now requiring sites asking for information to be SSL encrypted, it’s also recommended to ask which types of SSL certificates are offered. For more information about the types of SSL certificates out there, check out A Comprehensive Guide To Different Types of SSL Certificates and Types of SSL Certificates. Your webmaster (if you have one) should be able to help you decide which type of SLL certificate you need on your site.