Ownership Verification Still Stinks on Sales Platforms

If you look at the major domain name sales platforms, you will likely come across listings that aren’t legitimate. Sometimes a domain owner makes a typo when listing a domain name for sale, sometimes a domain owner has already sold a domain name and didn’t remove a listing, and other times people are simply messing around for whatever reason and list domain names they do not own. Domain name ownership verification still stinks on many platforms.

GDPR and Whois privacy are two issues that may cause verification issues. I believe most platforms have alternative methods of proving ownership though. In the case of domain names that were once owned by someone who listed a domain name for sale but later sold, I think it’s a pretty big challenge for sales platforms to be able to check the Whois or DNS records on millions of domain names every day to be sure listings remain valid.

Regardless of the reasons for this problem, it still sucks to buy a domain name on a major sale platform and later learn that the listing was canceled because the domain name should not have been listed for sale.

When I see a domain name for sale that I want to buy, I do some due diligence before buying it. I check the Whois record and nameservers to see if I can ensure the domain name listing is legitimate. I may reach out to the registrant to confirm the listing is legitimate or I may reach out to a contact at the sales venue to make sure the listing is accurate. A contact at the platform may not be able to say for certain that a listing isn’t legitimate, but if the seller is a new account in the US and the registrant is a big company in Australia, the platform may investigate further.

Not only is it important for me to be sure the domain registrant actually listed the domain name for sale, but I also want to make sure the domain name was not stolen and listed for sale by a thief. As I wrote this week, I will often make a phone call or two to do the proper due diligence before paying for a domain name so I don’t end up owning a stolen domain name.

If I don’t want to lose out on the opportunity by taking too much time to do due diligence, I may agree to buy the domain name and do due diligence after. The risk is that if I agree to buy a domain name but can’t connect with anyone to confirm a listing legitimacy, I am on the hook to buy the domain name. Of course, if I try to back out, I should be able to see who is selling a domain name. If legitimate, I can try to close the deal. If it is not legitimate, that should be clear, too. I run the risk of reputation damage as well as platform penalties if I back out of a deal that makes me uncomfortable.

It sucks to agree to buy a domain name only to learn that the listing is not valid. Someone might assume that all listings are verified by sales platforms, but unfortunately, that is not the case and it’s always buyer beware.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Don’t want to be negative about this but this is my take on the situation as a whole.

    I think the bigger problem here is that GD and others lists domain names for sale when you do a search at the start. They give the consumer the false impression that your name is for sale. Devalues your name.

    For example domaininvesting.com is taken
    We still might be able to get it for you. See How for $99. Really I could get your name? lol

    If GD wants to do this at least give half of the fee to us and send us the lead at the same time. All registrars need to do this. GD is not the only one it is everyone. Let us the owner of the domain name opt in for the $99 fee or take off. Or just send us the lead and not put a instant barrier of $99. If I own a car lot and someone wants to know the price do you charge them $99 to get that price.

    That is my take on it anyone care to disagree with me?

    Don M

  2. I had an interesting situation the other day. I got a pricing inquiry on a name I listed long ago on Afternic. Thing is, I had let the domain expire and it was available. So I re-registered it and responded. They ended up buying it.

  3. In my experience GoDaddy has been the worst (just talking about the marketplace, not as a registrar). While most major venues have long improved their verification methods (Sedo and practically all the most popular ones use DNS verification), GD lets everyone list any domain: several times I find superpremium domain names listed at ridiculous $xxx or low $x,xxx prices, only to find out they are actually owned by large corporations and are in use.

    Furthermore, last year, what seemed impossible to me happened: I had bought a domain, immediately paid for it, but after 3 long weeks I received their email telling me the domain was no longer owned by the original lister. The domain was registered at GD, so it means that when the new owner got in their account, they didn’t even bother to remove the old listing.

    To be honest, reading all the negative experiences on NamePros, I have come to the point where, when I find a nice deal on GD, I’m worried of what comes out in the coming weeks if I hit the BUY button. Just too frustrating having to wait 2-3 weeks, with your funds locked, only to receive the much dreaded email.

    Why doesn’t GoDaddy implement at least DNS verification?

  4. We are doing some interesting things here at DNProtect to help with this expect more to come soon. We keep a list of stolen domain names, as well, and of course you can also check any domain. Domain marketplaces could use our free API to also show the DNP Score of domains–which would help identify any TM issues as well. Any domains that are reported stolen to us are shared with the domain marketplaces.

    As a part of your due diligence on domains, I do recommend a DNP Score check, it should save you some time.

    • DNP Score reports seem to each generate a searchable URL with the domain name in it.

      Anyone can plug “report site:dnprotect.com” into Google and get a list of 17,400 domain names which have been checked by users of the site.

      Why would someone want to publish that they are researching a name they are thinking about buying?

  5. Wow Elliot, you actually censored my post. That’s the first time I’m aware of that you actually CENSORED one without even a flimsy pretense of justification.

    • I don’t know how many times I’ve told you, I don’t really “censor” anything. It’s probably been flagged by Akismet, the spam plugin I use.

    • Nothing in the spam or trash folders so you must not have submitted your comment if you can’t find it.

      If you think I’m censoring your comments despite the fact that I’m telling you I don’t, you can feel free to stop commenting here and post elsewhere. It would be peculiar for me to start censoring comments now after all of your comments that have been published here with no problem.

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