I frequently run into the problem of locating domain owners when the Whois information is invalid or outdated. When I want to purchase a domain name, I generally send personal notes to the Whois email address on record – or the historic information if necessary. Oftentimes, I receive the “Delivery Status Notification (Failure)” message that is standard for invalid or inoperable email accounts.
When this happens, I typically call the phone number of the registrant to make contact that way, but I often find that the phone numbers aren’t working either. Depending on the domain name, I will either give up and consider it a lost cause, or I will use a few different ways to get in touch with the owner.
1) Search for the owner’s last name and city on WhitePages.com to find a current phone number. A big DING goes off in my head if the phone number listed is different than the Whois.
2) Search for the owner’s name in Google (in quotes). Oftentimes you will see that the owner is either associated with other companies or email addresses, and you can use those to get in touch.
3) Search for the email address in Google. Sometimes you will find the email address associated with different websites or listed on a particular website along with a more current phone number or alternative means of contact.
4) Search the domain name’s website for info – both the current site and archive.org record. Sometimes the most obvious way of contacting the owner is overlooked.
If all else fails and you need the domain name, you can always visit the last known address. Usually this doesn’t work out, but it is a good way to get information. Sure, most people are reluctant to spend $1k+ on travel and associated expenses to visit a location, but if it can help you buy a $250,000 domain name, why would you give up so easily?
A whole lot of effort went into purchasing Customs.com in September of 2007, and if it wasn’t for going the extra few miles, I would not have been able to acquire it. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get in touch with a domain owner, but if it was easy, someone else would have acquired the domain name long ago.