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Major privacy provider switches to a Panama address
Does this look bad?
diberry




msg:4593914
 4:05 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

I use domain privacy not to hide from anybody, but just because I don't want anyone to connect all my various sites through a personal or business address. I've used a major privacy service loyally for years, and they always gave a very legitimate looking office address in Los Angeles. Their website still shows a variety of US-based addresses as examples of what you'll get. Since my sites are US-based, this is what I want - US people can mail or call as well as email.

Suddenly, that address has changed to one in Panama, and it doesn't even look very complete. That is, I wouldn't be sure what to write on an envelope to get a letter to them. It looks shady to me.

Should I be concerned? My sites are information based, and I don't plagiarize or do anything illegal or unethical, so chances are the people most likely to look at my WhoIS are not people who think I've wronged them, but nosy webmasters.

This is a very popular privacy service, so I'm sure many other sites are affected. Would you make a change under these circumstances, or just not worry about it?

 

mromero




msg:4593916
 4:11 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

Why does it look shady to you?

The world does not use ZIP Codes for e.g.

Anyone trying to hide many websites would be suspect anyways, but with the N.S.A. spying on everyone, does it make a difference?

diberry




msg:4593918
 4:24 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

I guess it's just that US companies have a bad reputation for ostensibly operating on foreign soil just to dodge taxes and so on. I don't want my sites to look like part of that movement.

jmccormac




msg:4593921
 5:25 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

A lot could be inferred (justified or not) in a UDRP complaint.

Regards...jmcc

diberry




msg:4593956
 6:39 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

jmccormac, that's what I'm thinking.

I'm currently looking into how cheaply I can set up some kind of private street addresses/phone numbers that actually do receive the messages and forward them to me as needed. That way, people looking at the WhoIs would have the sense I'm not trying to be difficult to contact, but they would not be able to show up on my doorstep. The only problem there is that I'm a sole proprietor so I would still have to expose my full legal name... unless I can find a way around that.

diberry




msg:4593958
 6:43 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

@mromero, sorry I just now realized why you were mentioning zip codes. The reason I said it didn't look complete is that it says the city is "Panama" not "Panama City". It just says, "Panama" for both city and "state" (my registrar clearly set this up with US addresses in mind).

But my main concern is just that by just having that address, it looks like I'm doing something "offshore" or trying to be difficult for my North American target audience to contact.

lucy24




msg:4593986
 9:27 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm currently looking into how cheaply I can set up some kind of private street addresses/phone numbers that actually do receive the messages and forward them to me as needed.

Are you in the US? Only yesterday-- really-- I got a form letter from the post office promoting a new option: giving the branch PO's street address as your own. So unless someone is familiar with your town, they don't know it's a post office box rather than where you physically live.

phranque




msg:4594004
 10:42 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

unless someone is familiar with your town, they don't know it's a post office box rather than where you physically live


typically when i see a "suite" address in a whois record i assume it's a UPS store mailbox or similar and am usually proven right if i bother to check using google street view.
i already recognize the addresses of most of the local ones.
i wonder if the actual USPS "street address" will be similarly identifiable.

diberry




msg:4594005
 10:44 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

Lucy24, is that General Delivery, or something else? I think it won't work for me because you HAVE to use your real legal name, and I also want to shield that from con artists and scammers.

From what I've been able to determine: WhoIs does not require an actual person's name. Some privacy services will even leave out the person's name if there's an organization/company listed.

I'm in email consultation with a virtual mailbox provider. Looks like they will accept mail sent to something like "Domain Owner, Domain Name, [address]" as long as people include the suite number that's assigned to my specific virtual "mailbox." So I think I'll just go that route, and get a virtual phone number, and hope for the best. I plan on moving to a state where it's not heart-stoppingly expensive to incorporate by next year at the latest, so then I can change everything over to the corporation, get a PO box for it and move on with my life.

lucy24




msg:4594035
 11:37 pm on Jul 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

is that General Delivery, or something else?

PO boxes. Can't you use a business name for those?

:: detour to fish letter out of recycling bin ::

Use the street address of this Post Office location for your PO Box and benefit from the credibility of a street address for your business. If you sign up for this feature, we will accept packages from private carriers that do not deliver to a PO Box.


"Benefit from the credibility" is a good sales pitch isn't it.

Check your junk mail. There's a kinda cute bit of photoshopping :)

If you say "Apt. # such-and-such" rather than "Suite #" it looks more plausible. Unless, er, your PO box number has 4 or 5 digits.

JohnRoy




msg:4594045
 12:03 am on Jul 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Although lucy24 received that letter only yesterday, this Street Address for PO Box is not new.

Here's a google cache from January '12

Mod: Remove if you wish. [webcache.googleusercontent.com...]

not2easy




msg:4594052
 12:34 am on Jul 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have been using my local Post Office's street address as an address for nearly 10 years - with their blessing. I have a PO Box address which many will not ship to, but even UPS will deliver to their street address and they pass it along to me.
Edited to add: to open a PO Box account these days, whether business or individual - you must provide proof of who you are, it could be that a receipt for domain purchase would be acceptable. I do not know what documentation is required but I do know you can't just fill out a form and open an account.

lucy24




msg:4594054
 1:01 am on Jul 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hm, interesting corollary question. If you have a valid DBA on file, is it OK to use that name in your domain registrations? It's certainly acceptable to use a corporate or governmental name.

Last time I looked, mail delivery to PO boxes wasn't restricted to the named box owner. So getting the box and using the box are almost completely unrelated.

@ JohnRoy, it's totally possible I have got this mailing lots of times before but never happened to notice it. Then again, it's possibe the service has only just reached my neck of the woods ;)

diberry




msg:4594106
 5:07 am on Jul 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you have a valid DBA on file, is it OK to use that name in your domain registrations? It's certainly acceptable to use a corporate or governmental name.


I think so - according to the one registrar I trust, you can just put your domain name in there, or anything else, and it doesn't have to be a DBA or corporation or anything.

Several sites I came across today said it's not so important that the info is correct as that you can be reached through it. As long as you respond to any genuine inquiries, no one can credibly assert that the contact info is inaccurate. Others assert that when you use Privacy services, THEY actually own the domain. I don't think there are super clear rules - it's up to courts to interpret it when a matter comes before them. At this point, I think almost anything I do will be better than the situation now. (The sudden change in address also makes me wonder what's up with my privacy service - are they suddenly going to go out of business or something?)

The virtual post office boxes I'm looking at are actually cheaper than a USPS post office box, and they save me the trouble of having to pick up my mail, so I think that will be the solution for me right now.

diberry




msg:4594278
 4:26 pm on Jul 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I found an even simpler solution. I use two hosts, one of which is also a registrar. I've never liked the idea of hosting and registering a domain with the same company, but these guys have been fantastic, highly professional, etc., for the years I've been hosting with them. They charge a bit more for domains than my current provider, but they provide the WhoIs Privacy themselves, using their own address (in the US) and phone number. And if I fill in the "organization" field with my domain name, they won't even show an individual name. So now for just a bit more cost on the domains, I don't need any sort of PO box or DBA or any of that fun stuff. In the long run, this is also a cheaper solution.

lucy24




msg:4594381
 10:02 pm on Jul 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Either we've got the same host or this is a widespread system, because that's how all of mine are set up too :) Look up a domain and you'll get "{hostname} private registrant"; email is forwarded via "proxy@{hostname}". And it's definitely registered in my name, not theirs.

The contact info obviously works, because around this time each year I get a blizzard of e-mails from assorted domain-name dragons* trying to sell me a parked typo domain.


* Or possibly all the same dragon, using a variety of e-mail addresses to make it sound as if the competition is fierce. Who knows. Who cares.

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