Is Your Personal Information Public?

Have you ever registered a domain name? If you have a blog or website it’s likely you have. (If you plan on starting a blog or website, take note!)

I think it’s an excellent idea for most people to at least register their name as a domain, if possible. I’ve registered all my kids’ names too. It is very inexpensive to do so and given our internet-centric culture, it’s likely they will come in handy at some point, even for those who never think it will.

Is your personal information public?

This post contains affiliate links since I am a paying customer of the services I recommend below. Read my disclosure policy here.

The main question…

Are your domains registered privately?

Any reputable domain registrar like Namecheap will give you the option of adding privacy protection to your domain when you register it.

If you don’t add privacy protection, the contact information you use during the domain registration process is easily accessible to anyone.

Many, many people use their home address and phone number to register their domain(s), not knowing this information becomes publicly available. Yikes! This is why I highly recommend adding Domain Name Privacy Registration when you set things up. For $10 a year or so, it’s well worth the cost.

How to check if your personal information is private

Check the WhoIs database.

  1. Go here and type in your domain.
  2. Scroll down and make sure none of your personal information is there. Remember, this database is accessible to anyone, so if you can see it, so can anyone else by simply going through the same steps.

Here’s the info for AmyLynnAndrews.com. It looks overwhelming at first, but looking closely, you’ll see the parts that should be reviewed. (I highlighted portions below to show you.)

whois lookup

All the highlighted parts here contain the info of my privacy service so I’m good to go. But what if yours is not?

How to change your domain so it’s private

In Namecheap:

  1. Login to your account.
  2. Click My Account in the top menu bar.
  3. Click “Your Domains” in the right column.
  4. Click the domain you want to check.
  5. At the top of the next screen, you’ll see whether Whoisguard is enabled or not. Follow the prompts or contact support if it’s not.

In Bluehost: If you followed the steps in How to Start a Blog you should be set. If not, the easiest way to add it is to contact their support.

Other: Contact support for the hosting company or domain registration company you used to register your domain.

Want to know more about choosing a domain?

Read this post.

28 thoughts on “Is Your Personal Information Public?”

  1. It is a great advice Amy. It is a big shame I didn’t come across this post way back when I was starting my blog. Before understanding the issue I had to deal with a reader who stalked me on my private phone, as my domain provider was displaying it. It is quiet weird that they display your private information unless you ask otherwise!

  2. As far as I’m aware, Whois protection from namecheap is only a couple of dollars. My last renewal for both the name and protection came out at about £9.

    Some time last year I registered an .es name without fully understanding *why* they can’t have protection (saying that, I still don’t!). I’ve tried every lookup I can find and the most info I get out of it is my name. I’m still worried there’s one out there I’ve missed that’ll throw out my address.

  3. Once again I am grateful for your knowledge and your willingness to share it with others. My mind is at ease knowing at least some of my information is not public. Thanks Amy!

  4. I’ve been online with my main website since 1999 and now have a ton of other domain names as well as several websites.

    My host company is Hostgator and my registrar is Godaddy. I’m one of those “old timers” that believes you should NOT have your registrar also be your host company. I’ve been through several hosting and registrars myself. And I’ve heard of too many falling outs with the host company and then you are SOL with your website and the domain name!

    Since I have over 100 domain names and I’ve been online for 15 years, my address has been plastered all over the Internet. And to put on $10 for privacy protection on each domain name would bankrupt me!

    And as everyone knows, with just a bit of detective work these days, you can find out just about anything you want to know about someone, no matter how much privacy they think they have surrounding them.

    Just my thoughts on this issue, from the old dinosaur.

    1. Cathryn,
      I’m in the same boat…I don’t really care if everyone and their brother calls me. It has become a game of which button to push to get put on their personal no call list LOL. As far as worrying about someone showing up at my door…well I live in the country, we have attack geese and free range dogs and teen age boys that are pretty big and like to hunt 🙂

  5. This is great info. I followed the steps and found that my domain name information is private, so I’m relieved. I’m guessing that is because you mentioned privacy in one of your how-to posts early on. I’m sure I wouldn’t have known to do it otherwise. 🙂

  6. Thanks for the info. I followed the links to check my info and all of mine is private. I signed up through Google, which is actually through GoDaddy, and I don’t pay extra. I only pay 12.00 per year for the domain. Apparently, they keep theirs private and list GoDaddy for all the info.

  7. I changed the name to initials on my GoDaddy domain and used my old college dorm address. It was free. =P I suppose I’ll change it back right before I go to renew so my billing information matches.

  8. Your GoDaddy.com link is no longer working, I get a 404 Error.
    Wonderful site, thanks so much

  9. Well as a novice to this subject and having just registered a couple of domain names recently I was amazed that this level of detail was available to the public at all and so without this blog of yours would not have rushed over to pay for privacy.

    Having said that I take Carrie’s point that if someone wants to find you they will, but when all said and done I guess I feel better doing what I can not to release that level of detail.

    Thanks for the info.

  10. Thought I’d also add another website that offers free privacy protection on domain registration: http://www.netfirms.com

    I just (finally) moved my blogspot address to a domain I purchased through them. Blogger is hosting it for free. I think I got the domain for under $7 & it came up with the privacy protection.

  11. Great tip! Just realize that you are only protecting one very small part of your privacy. It’s very easy to look up someone’s address online using WhitePages.com. If you’ve got an unlisted address, it’s equally easy in many cities to look up property records to figure out where you live. If someone really want to find you…. They will. 🙂

    1. Yes. So true! It’s not hard to find people at all. A little detective work (or simply putting 2 and 2 together) and you can often figure out a whole lotta information about someone. Thanks for adding this, Carrie!

  12. I register my domain names through my web host (DreamHost). They provide a privacy service for free. I never realized they charge for this mess! Check with your web host to see if you can register domains through them and not have to pay for the privacy. I know for Host Gator you *do* have to pay extra for the privacy – not sure about others.

    1. Good to know, Lisa!

      So, now a question for you…my fellow techy geek! 🙂

      What do you think about the argument which says you should not register your domain and purchase hosting from the same company because it gives one company too much power over your online identity? Do you think that’s still a valid argument or was that more applicable to the “old days” when hosting companies were a dime a dozen and no one was sure how long they were going to be around?

      1. Does that argument apply to purchasing domains and hosting separately but at the same place? Or just “packages” where you buy a bundle that includes a domain registration and hosting.

        My impression is that it’s not a good idea to buy a “package” of hosting and domain name because you could be purchasing the package and not the actual rights to the domain.

        I’m curious to hear Lisa’s response.

      2. I would say it is advisable to register your domains separate from your hosting, however even if you do register using your host most of them are using and underlying registrar. If not and they are the registrar then they have to be ICANN certified which means they have put up a sizable amount of money as security in case they default.

        You can see a list of accredited registrars here: http://www.icann.org/registrar-reports/accredited-list.html

        Also I would never pay $10 extra for whois privacy when there are several registrars that offer it totally free…

  13. Do you know if it’s $10 total at GoDaddy or $10 per year *per domain*? I have many, many domain names and it’s hard to justify doubling that expense, when I can just use a PO Box and a business phone number.

    1. Good question Heather. I would say “per domain” but I’m not sure if there are any concessions when buying in bulk.

      1. I have Go-Daddy with have two domains. I pay an additional $10 for each domain for proxy registration. I feel it is worth it, especially in the day and age. But if you have a large number, then I think the PO Box and business email is the next best option.

    2. Occasionally you can get the privacy protection for cheaper during sales or with discount codes on services at Go Daddy (I check retailmenot.com before I buy a new domain/renew one). I’ve actually been doing this since the early 2000s (I’m a long time blogger) after hearing from blog friends who were harassed and stalked offline thanks to the info on whois registries. For me, because I work in the judicial system, its worth every penny to keep as much info out of the hands of those across the desk from me and make it difficult to find it elsewhere on the internet. Thankfully the job also provides some additional protections on property tax/voter registration databases 🙂

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