Code Background

What to Do About Inaccurate Whois Data

Elliot Silver, domain industry veteran, posted an good article yesterday about a notice of infringement that was sent to a domain registrant but not a domain owner – read the full article here. He brought up a good point about keeping Whois records accurate and a problems that can arise as a result.



DomainTools receives support tickets from customers with concerns similar to Elliot’s where the email address is accurate and they received a “Notice of Infringement” notification. Alternatively, we’ve noticed opposite situations happen to us where all the Whois business information is accurate but the contact email goes to a typo’d address. Either way, it is inaccurate Whois information and against ICANN policy as a domain owner.

We explain to customers that the proper  process for resolution is to submit an ICANN Whois complaint. You can do this through InterNIC, ICANN’s website for the public. To do this, visit the ICANN Whois Data Report Problem webpage here. As a result of the complaint, the domain owner is forced to provide accurate contact information if the individual wishes to keep the domain. If the domain owner provides that inaccurate contact information, you may use it to file a police report for fraud, serve him or her with a law suit, or take action using some other legal strategy. If the individual does not respond due to fear of reprisal, ICANN may disable the domain name.

Tip: Before reporting inaccurate Whois information to the ICANN Whois Data Report Problem web page, be sure to double-check that the domain name indeed appears to be inaccurate by doing a lookup at the registrar on the Whois record or use DomainTools’ Whois.

ICANN requires registrars to offer domain registrants the ability to update their contact details. Each registrar has slightly different procedures for changing the information that appears on a Whois record. It generally involves accessing account information via the registrar’s website, or contacting a call center representative. Whois record changes may take a period of time (often in the vicinity of 24 hours) to take effect. After submitting your complaint, we suggest that you verify that action has been taken with updated information by checking the domain’s Whois record, of course allowing sufficient time in the complaint process for record changes to go into effect.