When you buy a domain name in the aftermarket, it’s critical to be sure the seller has the right to sell the domain name and that the transaction is above board. Performing due diligence is critical when buying a domain name.
I use a number of tools to do my due diligence, with DomainTools being among the most useful tools I use, specifically the domain history tool. With this tool, I can see the provenance of a domain name, and this can help me see if anything looks fishy with the ownership.
Once in a while, something will look funky to me, and I will want to investigate it further before agreeing to buy the domain name (always via Escrow.com for added protection). For instance, if I am buying Example.com, and the Whois email for ten years was email@Example.com but it recently changed to a Gmail account, that would set off a red flag for me, even if the change was legitimate.
If I feel like something could potentially be wrong, I will investigate it further, and using the phone to call the domain owner is a good way to check on the name. The easiest thing to do is to call the current Whois phone number to speak with the owner. Although you might come across as having a casual discussion, you can try to decipher if things add up. Perhaps the owner is supposedly from Boston and you can confirm that he has a Boston accent.
You can (and should) probably use the Whois history tool to see a phone number from prior to the Whois email address change and call that. When you get the person on the phone, let him know who you are and make sure he is aware of the email discussion. If not, you can ask him if he sold the domain name to someone else. If he isn’t aware of it, you should probably let him know about the deal you have in the works.
If the email addresses aren’t working for some reason, you can always email the seller and ask for his contact phone number. If there was a red flag and the owner wouldn’t provide a phone number, that would probably be enough for me to not do the deal. If he does provide the number, it’s a good idea to call and ensure the deal is legit. If there is an issue with the seller in the future, having a real contact phone number can help your attorney and authorities track the scammer.
Not only is using the phone a good way to negotiate a deal, but it’s also a great way to do due diligence when buying a domain name.