Due Diligence Tip: Tracking Whois Email


I want to share a tip about performing due diligence when buying a domain name. This tip deals with tracking the Whois email address to try and verify ownership.

Let’s say you want to buy BrandManagement.com from me, and you use DomainTools to do a Whois history search for part of your due diligence steps. Let’s hypothetically say that I use domains@topnotchdomains.com as the Whois email address for my domain names (I don’t). Your historical search shows that the registrant appears to be the same for the last 3 years. All looks good to you on that front, and some people may believe this is sufficient to confirm ownership and proceed.

In my opinion, in addition to a historical Whois search for the BrandManagement.com domain name, you should also do one for the TopNotchDomains.com domain name as well.

If my company were to have dropped TopNotchDomains.com and it was picked up by someone else, they could easily have access to and control the email account that I had been using for Whois records. They could possibly request a password reset at the domain registrar where other domain names are registered, and that would yield either a password or a password reset key to enable them to access the domain names. Should they not want to raise suspicion by transferring the domain names right away, they could essentially have control of the account without raising a potential red flag that might draw the attention of the rightful owner or a prospective buyer.

The person could use the Whois email address to send out solicitations to sell the domain name, which would look legitimate. A domain investor who does a cursory Whois search or even a simple historical Whois search would likely see that the offer looks legitimate. In addition, the person could answer inquiries about the domain name and attempt to sell it. Without doing a check on the other domain name, there wouldn’t be anything that stands out.

One thing to look for is the expiration of the domain name used for the Whois email address of the domain name you want to buy. Someone might be clever, but they may not be able to cover tracks on that domain name if a change of ownership occurs.

Of course this is not a foolproof method by any stretch, and it should certainly be done in conjunction with other due diligence. Buyers should also use an escrow service to transact as an extra layer of security.

Due diligence is important for domain name buyers, and this is one other thing people should look at.

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