A Secret Your Web Host May Not Want You to Know About Your Domain Name
This scam is easy to avoid. Many web hosts will offer to reserve the domain name for you, then turn around and reserve the domain in their own name in an account that you can't access. Doing business with with a large company is no protection. One of my biggest competitors does this, and they get downright mean about it if you try to leave them. They actually charge a $50 "domain fee" if you decide to take the domain to a new hosting service.
If You Already Have a Domain
If you aren't positive about whether or not you own domain find out right now! Domain possession is a matter of public record, and this data is available online. To find a site that will let you access these records Google the keywords "whois lookup". Just enter the domain name you're asking about. This might tell you the domain owner, or "registrant", but even if it doesn't it will at least tell you the identity of your domain "registrar". The registrar is the company that your domain name is registered through. Don't be surprised if you've never heard of your registrar, this is just another indication that you got your domain through a reseller and their identity will also be shown on the whois record. All registrars have their own whois databases. If you don't find domain ownership information in your first lookup, go to the registrar's company page and do a whois loookup there.
If you discover that you don't own your own domain the odds are you got your domain through a "reseller". Contact your reseller immediately about putting the domain in a retail account in your name. Don't just have them change the whois information. Have them move it into a retail account in your name.
If You're Getting a Domain for the First Time
Always ask some necessary screening questions when registering a domain through a web host:
* Will the domain be registered in my name?
* Will I be listed as the "Administrative Contact"?
* Will the domain be reserved in a retail account in my name with a control panel that I can access?
* Can I lock you out of that control panel if I choose to?
* Can I continue to manage my domain through this control panel even if I decide to stop hosting through you?
If the answer to ANY of these questions is "No" politely inform the representative you are speaking with that you will reserve the domain yourself.
Registering your own domain is easy. More importantly it guarantees that you'll be able access your control panel even if you change web hosts. procuring a domain is also typically very cheap (less than $15 a year).
CPA Site Solutions, my company, does things a little differently. Unfortunately we only really cater to CPA and accounting firms. The trick is to put client domains into a retail account in the clients name. We make a little less money, and it's a little more work but we feel it's a lot more honest. They can lock me out simply by changing their password and if they ever leave our hosting service they will be able to continue to manage their domain themselves. They not only own their domain, they actually have administrative control over it.
Your domain name is your real estate on the web. Make sure you actually own it and not your web host!
When you change your Email address always make sure you log into your domain name registrars site first and make sure they have the new email. When it's time to renew this may save you a huge headache.