8 warning signs a domain name is stolen.
People typically steal domains with the hopes of selling them before word gets out that the domain is stolen. Here are 8 clues a domain name you’re thinking about buying is stolen. Just because one of these is true doesn’t mean a domain is stolen; but you should use caution.
1. Person claims they must sell the domain fast – there are legitimate reason for needing to sell something quickly, such as to raise needed cash. But it’s also a warning sign that something else is at play. So when there’s a sense of urgency, be suspicious.
2. The seller emphasizes the need to use a particular, unsecure payment method instead of traditional escrow services – this is usually PayPal (which offers absolutely zero protection to domain buyers), or some sort of PayPal knock-off. If a seller requests a wire transfer and rules out any sort of escrow, you should also be wary.
3. Domain owner sends you an unsolicited PM on a domain forum – if someone sends you a PM out of the blue offering a domain for sale, ask yourself why they wouldn’t have posted the domain for sale on the forum itself? Surely that would maximize their return rather than just sending a one-off message to you.
4. Seller has a short history on domain forums – if you are transacting on a domain forum, make sure the seller has been an active user of the forum for a long period of time.
5. Person sends an unsolicited email to you with a few quality domains for sale – whenever someone sends you a sales pitch rather than you contacting them, your risk goes up. Of particular concern is when someone sends you an email out of the blue with a good deal for a 2 or 3 character domain name. If the domains are good, people won’t resort to unsolicited emails to sell the domains. I’m not talking about those annoying emails from someone listing hundreds of crappy domains they’re trying to sell.
6. The domain was recently transferred to a second-tier domain name registrar – if a domain was transferred from a top 10 registrar to one you’ve never heard of, ask the seller why.
7. The whois information changed recently – if the whois for a domain you’re buying changed recently, you need to ask the seller why. Just because the whois changed doesn’t mean it’s stolen. A lot of people quickly flip domains. But it’s also a warning sign. Run away from any domain that has transferred ownership several times in the past year. Be wary of any domain that suddenly changes whois information and is transferred to another domain registrar. If you are an active buyer, you owe it to yourself to use DomainTools’ whois history service to verify domains you’re buying.
8. The price is too good to be true – this goes for just about anything in business, but especially domain names. If someone emails you offering to sell a 2 letter .com domain for $25,000, it’s probably stolen. If someone posts Recent.net, Than.net, and They.net on Flippa for $1,000, they’re probably stolen.
Here are three take-away tips:
-Ask questions! You’ll find holes in the seller’s story. Or they’ll just give up and move on to easier prey.
-Ask to talk on the phone. If someone won’t take a simple phone call for a five figure transaction, they probably have something to hide.
-It’s your responsibility to research the history of a domain on DomainTools.