Buying websites just isn’t something you would do without any preparation at all. To avoid being scammed by unscrupulous individuals, you have to go through the due diligence process, and the first step is to do some ownership checks of the website and of the domain. This step is perhaps the most important and if anything wrong comes up during this process, at least, you would have the choice of just withdrawing your bid from buying the site altogether. That is, if there really no plausible explanations to any of the concerns you come across.
Checking the Ownership of the Site
The most basic step in confirming the ownership of a site is to avail yourself of the WHOIS tool provided by DomainTools. The service is free and provides useful information critical to the verification process, although there’s also a paid version that offers more detailed information. At the very least, you should have access to the domain registration information and contact details of that specific domain. Match the data you get from your WHOIS search with the info furnished by the seller, and ensure that the two are the same.
Check the Site Owner
I’m sure you would want to be certain that everything is above board, and one good way of making sure is by transacting with a reliable and legit seller. With popular marketplaces like Flippa.com, you can view the seller’s profile which can give you an summary of how long the seller has been a flipper and if he has a sound history. You could also do an internet search for the seller’s Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or LinkdIn accounts, and get more information from them. If you don’t have his full name, you can put in the name he uses as a seller in your online inquiry and see if anything comes up in internet marketing blogs or forums.
Checking the Domain Status and Registrar History
By just doing a basic WHOIS search, you can already glean other vital information such as the domain status and the registrar history. Note that if a website has just been transferred to a different registrar, it cannot be transferred again within the next 60 days. This is because for domain transfers, there is a waiting period of 60 days. When you do a verification on the status of a domain, it would most likely be in a “locked” mode – which simply means, the site or domain owner will have to “unlock” it before he can give the ownership to the buyer.
Check for Any Trademarks
A website may have trademarks such as Microsoft in a MicrosoftRules.com site, or Apple in a AppleGadgets.com. If you have an interest in these kinds of websites, you need to make sure first that the seller has the lawful right to use the trademark, if the site isn’t being auctioned off by the companies Microsoft or Apple themselves. More importantly, the seller should have the official documents to support such claims.
Only after you’ve completed the above guidelines in checking the legitimacy of the site ownership and the seller himself, can you continue on with the next steps in the due diligence process when buying websites.