Do you know who legally owns your domain name? Most companies are dumbfounded when they find out who does! It can happen to anyone, even us! That’s right, we fell victim as well and did not even realize it until we tried to help out a client.A good and honest web developer or web host will register your domain name in YOUR name rather than their company or personal name. Unfortunately, many don’t and it can be very difficult to gain control and some may actually hold your name ransom!What a nightmare! You’ve spent a lot of money on advertising and marketing to build your brand name around your website. Worse yet, if your domain name expires without your knowledge, your website will go off-line automatically. When your domain name is inactive, you run the risk of someone else purchasing it!So how can you find who actually owns your domain name and when it expires? Go to Network Solutions or whois and run a simple check to see if the registrant is you. Make sure to verify the address, phone number and email address as yours. The person listed as billing contact will actually be responsible for the renewal fee and if they don’t pay, for whatever reason, you can lose your domain name!Even more criminal is the act of making the owner unlisted and contact information private. The purpose of this service is that they act as a go between, keeping the owners contact information private, for a yearly fee. This service makes the process of domain transfer virtually impossible and about your only option is to let the domain name expire. Hopefully, you can purchase it back and make sure not to automatically renew the privacy setting.What can you do if you discover you are not the owner of your domain name? First, say a prayer, then contact the owner as soon as possible and try to resolve the situation. Most times, if you open an account with the same host provider as the web developer who owns your name, then they can easily transfer the domain name without any fee. If the owner or hostage taker is a straight shooter, they should make the transfer in a week or so. If you have no success, you may need to contact an attorney and hope they can set you FREE, but it won’t be cheap!