One of the most frequent questions I am asked by people who don’t invest in domain names is “how do you find out who owns a domain name?” When there’s a website, parked domain name, or any other type of landing page, finding out exactly who owns a domain name may not be that simple for someone who doesn’t have know where to look.
The answer, however, is fairly simple. The Whois database is a sort of similar to a phone directory in that it contains information about the ownership of a domain name. Whois records show the (registrant) owner’s name or company name, a contact person, phone number, postal address, email address, and some other bits of information. Although some of the information may not get you to the best person (ie the IT department at a major company), it does give information about the domain registrant.
Sometimes, a domain name is registered privately. Most domain registrars (and perhaps independent companies) offer the ability to register domain names under a privacy guard. This means the registrant’s information is protected, and it can only be revealed by the domain registrar if legal action is taken . Oftentimes, however, if you use the privacy email address on record, it will be forwarded directly to the domain owner’s email address.
To find out who owns a domain name, I usually use a service like DomainTools or Whoisology. Domain registrars will also generally have a page where you can do a Whois lookup to see who owns a domain name. For example, you can use Name.com or 101Domain to do a Whois search to find domain ownership information.
If you want to buy a domain name and are having trouble finding the owner, you can try several things:
1) Visit the domain name and see if there is a contact form. Sometimes it’s small, but oftentimes it’s right on top. Messages like “This domain name may be for sale” or “Inquire about this domain name” will generally put the visitor in touch with the domain owner or manage.
2) Visit a marketplace like Sedo, Afternic, or Aftermarket.com and see if the domain name is listed for sale.
3) Contact a domain broker and see if they know the owner. On some good domain names, they may know who the owner is, and if that’s the case, they may be able to get in touch and work out a deal on your behalf.
I sometimes take the ease of finding a domain owner for granted, but if you’re not a domain investor and don’t know this space very well, you might find it difficult to find a domain name owner. Hope this helps.