Like many other researchers I curse every time I look up a newly registered domain that is involved in spam, malware, scams or phishing and see that the registration details are hidden by using Domain Privacy. Some registrars will offer 1 year of free domain privacy along with a cheap domain name and in several cases this can be lower than $1 for the first year. This can and does encourage the bad guys to create numerous domains to be used in spam, scams, phishing and malware with absolutely no risk of anybody tracking them. The average bad guy will use stolen credit cards or PayPal details along with fake registration details anyway, so why also use domain privacy? The reason is lengthen the time before the authorities or researchers match up stolen details and put 2 & 2 together.
However Domain Privacy can be “essential” for the average website / domain holder. I have owned several domains for a long time, up to 15 years in a few cases and haven’t had any previous privacy problems with my personal info being used by the spammers and scammers.
My Domain Registrar has this page about Domain Privacy and spam from newly registered domains. https://www.123-reg.co.uk/support/answers/why-do-i-get-spam-email-after-buying-a-domain-name-4967/
Most of my domains are .UK domains ( .co.uk, .org.uk, .uk etc) Nominet the UK registration authority allow private, non trading individuals to not display full details of the registrant. You still have a name displayed but for example if you look up this domain myonlinesecurity.co.uk you will see something along these lines
Domain Whois record
Queried whois.nic.uk with “myonlinesecurity.co.uk“…
The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their
address omitted from the WHOIS service.
I am happy enough with that. All the UK registrars used to make it easy to “opt out” when registering a domain name, by simply selecting the option. None do now and you need to log in to the Nominet website and do it yourself on all .uk domains you own.
Now I have recently registered several new domains, some in .com some in .online and other new TLD ( top level domains). Previously I have not experienced any real problems with my details being available on .com, .org etc domains. However now I am seriously suffering from scammers & spammers from the new registrations. ICANN have recently introduced compulsory verification of registrants details and say that a registrar must suspend or cancel the domain if false or incomplete details are submitted. In the real world of course, the only people to suffer from this are the genuine domain name holders, not the scammers, spammers and malware gangs using fake or stolen details.
In the last 2 weeks since I registered my new domains. 1st .com and 2nd .online for a new project, I have been inundated with scam and spam email as well as literally hundreds of phone calls from mainly Indian spammers, scammers and generally incompetent callers. The calls range from “genuine” spam sales calls offering to help improve my website that I am in process of building to the scammers telling me that I haven’t completed the registration process and I need to pay them $$$$ to finalise the registration. Then you get the SEO scumbags who pretend that I need to pay them to get into Google and other search engines.
I can cope with all that by email and accept spam email as a part of having a domain. Any website you have, that can be found or read will get emails addressed to various “default” email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as the essential email addresses that every website should have email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. They are all easy to filter in the appropriate spam box.
However, I just cannot cope with the phone calls. I suffer from a long term serious illness, that seriously affects me in day to day life. My wife is currently ill and we have been getting regular phone calls from our Doctors, Nurses and Hospitals arranging treatment and giving test results. Every time the phone rings with a withheld, out of area, unknown or overseas number( most VOIP services come up as unknown or overseas numbers and our doctor uses a VOIP service), my heart skips a beat as we anticipate another bad test result, needing more urgent treatment.
I have had to give in and pay for Domain Privacy, to stop the hassle.
Domain Privacy is now essential for private individuals. However along with many researchers, I don’t think that companies or organisations that sell anything or take money should be allowed to hide their details.