Fake contact info in domain registration?
April 6, 2005 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Is there any good reason why I can't put a fake address and phone number in my domain registration info?

I registered a domain a couple of days ago and I just got a call from some company asking if I needed help designing my new site. I don't need spam calls, thank you very much. Then there's the issue of privacy. I'd rather not have the entire word know my name and address. I might want to say something snarky about somebody some day.

I know there are ways to get a private registration or I could just rent a P.O. box, but both of those options will cost money.

The site is a personal blog. I can't see any reason why anyone would need to contact the administrator or the technical guy, both of which are me. As long as I list a valid email address I can be contacted. Will I be violating the US Patriot Act if I list 1234 Doody Ave, Bonerville" as my address?
posted by bondcliff to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
It's a requirement that there be valid contact information. It is a regulation of ICANN, I believe.

You can use a private registration service, though. I know GoDaddy and Network Solutions offer it, that's just off the top of my my head. They basically put their address down in your registration, keeping your address information private.

They charge an extra fee, but you may find it worth it.
posted by benjh at 8:39 AM on April 6, 2005

Under certain conditions, third-parties may be able to have the domain cancelled or transferred due to patently false whois information.
posted by anathema at 8:47 AM on April 6, 2005

You might run into problems if the mail comes back as undeliverable.

As far as the phone number - I've used a fake phone number on a number of domains, one of them is at least 7 years old.
posted by bh at 9:23 AM on April 6, 2005

Can anybody actually prove that you do not live in Bonerville? Is there any reason for someone to go to the trouble? Yeah, you'd be breaking the rules, but I think the odds of it causing a problem are pretty remote.
posted by spilon at 9:30 AM on April 6, 2005

Tyops heppen oll tha timn.
posted by furtive at 9:42 AM on April 6, 2005

I would think the other contact information would be important in case something ever happens with your email address. Otherwise you could conceivably end up unable to renew the domain or prove that its yours.

Furtive has a decent idea though... Better something just slightly wrong enough to avoid phone calls and junk mail than something completely bogus.
posted by robotspacer at 10:13 AM on April 6, 2005

Best answer: If Network Solutions and GoDaddy can do private domain registrations, then so can you. Put in an email address you know you'll get a lot of spam in but that you'll keep for years. Put in a phone number for someone else, or a school / job you used to go to. Put in your parent's mailing address, just somewhere that'll be around for a while. It isn't wrong information, it just isn't the best information.
posted by pwb503 at 10:42 AM on April 6, 2005

You might want to read this article. I just came across it and remembered your question. I haven't read the whole thing, but I think giving a false address is now a criminal offense.
posted by caddis at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies.

I understand it's technically required but I can't imagine someone as insignificant as little ol' me would really matter to anyone.
posted by bondcliff at 11:00 AM on April 6, 2005

Best answer: whoa! the best answer that is marked is NOT a best answer.

most companies who you purchase a domain name from have something like this in their agreement, which I believe is required by ICANN :
3.2. Inaccurate or Unreliable Data.
You hereby represent and warrant that the data provided in the domain name registration application is true, correct, up to date and complete and that you will continue to keep all the information provided up to date. Your willful provision of inaccurate or unreliable information, your willful failure promptly to update information provided to the registry operator, or any failure to respond for over five calendar days to our inquiries addressed to the e-mail address of the administrative, billing or technical contact then appearing in the Whois directory with respect to an domain name concerning the accuracy of contact details associated with any registration(s) or the registration of any domain name(s) registered by or through you or your account, shall constitute a breach of this Agreement. Any information collected by the registry operator concerning an identified or identifiable natural person ("Personal Data") will be used in connection with the registration of your domain name(s) and for the purposes of this Agreement and as required or permitted by the ICANN Agreement or any ICANN/Registry Policy.
what does this mean? In the case of a domain name dispute if you do NOT have correct information they CAN take your domain from you.

again, the information marked as a "best answer" by pwb is INCORRECT, or misleading at best -- the reason godaddy and netsol can offer private regs is that they FORWARD you mail, email, or phone calls using YOUR ACTUAL REGISTRATION INFORMATION, they just SHIELD this info from the whois database -- if you put in an email you never check, and incorrect phone numbers, addresses, you run the risk of losing your domain.

that said, you can probably put in fake info without worrying about it IF YOU DON'T THINK anyone will ever make a legal query into your domain. But AGAIN, you RISK losing the domain -- so it's not something to do with a business website or anything.
posted by fishfucker at 11:37 AM on April 6, 2005

I don't know if this crosses any lines, but I put the name of the street I live on, but not the street address or apartment number. I would guess that a legal query would cross-check with the DMV or the phone company or something and the street would be enough of a clue to track me down.

The phone number is not accurate, but the email address is a "spam-only" account that I do check. I hope that if there is a problem with my domains, or if they are up for renewal that the first way my registrar will try to contact me is email. So far, this has been the case.
posted by bendy at 11:46 AM on April 6, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, FF. It was the best answer to me. The question was not weather or not it was allowed, but weather there was a good reason why a guy like me couldn't get away with it. I'm not a corporation, just another moron with a domain name.

I can't imagine there would ever be a dispute over this domain name and the email address I have listed is a @gmail one that gets forwarded to my main one. If they need to reach me, they can.
posted by bondcliff at 11:53 AM on April 6, 2005

Thanks, FF. It was the best answer to me. The question was not weather or not it was allowed, but weather there was a good reason why a guy like me couldn't get away with it. I'm not a corporation, just another moron with a domain name.

yeah, i realize that, i'm just worried about it being a "best answer" when people are refered to this question later -- also the answer draws a false parallel between incorrect info and private regs.

A great reason not to put in a fake info for the average joe is that if you ever lose your account info and need to get your pass/transfer your domain/etc then you have to jump through all kinds of hoops in order to get control of your domain again. I'd at least put in an email that you can access -- which it seems like you've done. I deal with this kind of thing regularly at my work, and trust me, it can really suck ass -- lots of red tape. But again, yeah, no-one's gonna come after you.

Why are third-party services allowed to put in their information instead of the owners, but the owner can't do a similar thing? This also bothers me, but I haven't received spam yet... I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

the way it works is that they have a third party that puts in ITS info, and then they HOLD your info and release it when someone has a justifiable need -- ie, they won't just give it out to spammers and shit, but yes, they'll hand it over to the government, or other registrars, etc, etc.

You *could* do something like this as long as you could receive communication through whatever contact info you left -- i believe the private regs have a contract with you that preserves your ownership although you aren't listed on the domain whois info itself, and i'm sure, if you bothered, you could do something like this with your buddy. Needless to say, for someone who is a company and who wants to remain private, it's easier to just pay the extra $18 a year that private reg costs.
posted by fishfucker at 12:31 PM on April 6, 2005

Put in your parent's mailing address, just somewhere that'll be around for a while.

Especially if you don't mind them getting the junk mail you'd rather avoid. (That is the whole point to this exercise, isn't it?)
posted by crunchland at 12:34 PM on April 6, 2005

Second fishfucker plus it's just rude and against the spirt of the internet.
posted by Mitheral at 1:56 PM on April 6, 2005

Use netrillium.com and they use their own details in the WHOIS on your behalf.
posted by fire&wings at 3:43 PM on April 6, 2005

Spend the extra $10/yr to get the private registration at GoDaddy...it's worth the peace of mind.
posted by davidmsc at 5:59 PM on April 6, 2005

Put in your parent's mailing address

This can be a bad idea... while we were overseas my girlfriend's mother (who's non-technical but otherwise quite intelligent) received a fake "you must pay to renew this now or you'll lose your domain" letter regarding our .com domain. She promptly paid the (large) bill without checking with us first and it turned out to be a total scam.

There's a class action going on over it, but I doubt we'll be able to get the money back.
posted by bruceyeah at 6:26 PM on April 6, 2005

I've been using Fenway Park as my mailing address for years, and I've never had any problems. Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field might be good choices, too.
posted by letitrain at 10:13 PM on April 6, 2005

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