Subscribe to RSS Feed

01|08|2008 02:42 pm EDT

Domain Registrar Network Solutions Front Running On Whois Searches

by Adam Strong in Categories: Featured

A story is developing regarding domain name registrar Network Solutions front running domains. According to multiple sources on, it appears that domains searched via NSI are being purchased by the registrar thereby preventing a registrant from purchasing it at any other registrar other than NSI. As an example (at the time of this writing), a random domain which DNN searches such as can be seen  in this whois search to now be unavailable to register at other registrars but at NSI it can be purchased

The whois contact now says :

Registrant: Make this info private
This Domain is available at
13681 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 300

The domains are likely being purchased and held in NSI ownership until the potential registrant comes back to purchase the name through NSI. If the purchase is not made at NSI within 5 days, NSI uses the same 5 day grace period that domain tasting operations use and they delete the domain. Once a search for a domain is conducted at NSI the domain name is registered and only available to be purchased by a registrant at NSI. It is not clear if NSI has increased prices on domains that have received multiple whois searches and that they are front running.

NSI also apparently has no problem taking over control of trademark domains using this practice as well. Searches for names such as and all appear as registered now by NSI and only available for purchase at NSI.

Front running domain names is a bold move by any registrar as it breaks a certain level of trust that the general public places in using a whois search. ICANN SSAC has conducted a “study” on front running recently in which they wrote “ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreement and Registry Agreements do not expressly prohibit registrars and registries from monitoring and collecting WHOIS query of domain name availability query data and either selling this information or using it directly,” Warehousing domains in order to sell them to “potentially interested parties” isn’t specifically forbidden in the registrar contract with ICANN but is addressed in points 3.7.9 and 4.2.5 of the contract in which they leave room for new rules or revisions to the contract. In a quick look search it appears that other registries have addressed this issue. As an example, the SGNIC for example has a contract that expressly addresses this issue.

it shall not engage in and shall prohibit bulk access to Registrant’s data, warehousing of or speculation in Domain Names, and shall implement any policies SGNIC may from time to time prescribe to prohibit or restrict such activities. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Registrar shall not (i) submit any application for the registration, renewal, transfer, modification or cancellation of a Domain Name registration or any other request or transaction relating thereto purportedly on behalf of any Person when it is not in fact so authorized, or on behalf of a non-existent Person; (ii) accumulate or warehouse Domain Name registrations with which Registrar or such Person has no reasonable connection, for the purpose of removing them from availability for others, transferring them for immediate or deferred direct or indirect gain or profit or for any other reason whatsoever, nor shall it knowingly participate in any such undertaking.


  • Barb A. Ryan

    You do not have to wait to get NetSol to release the domain name that you searched and they captured. To reduce the uncertainty of waiting or of having someone else jump ahead of you and get the domain released, do the following.

    Until NetSol sees the light or is forced to see the light, you can do the following:
    1) Go to the NetSol website, call the 800 number and follow the telephone tree to speak to Customer Service for “other domain name registration issues” or something like that. The wait was short for me (on a weekend).
    2) Tell the rep that you want a locked domain name released so that you can register it with you preferred registrar.
    3) They will ask you for your name and an email address, but they can and will release the hold immediately. (They do not have a clue as to whom it was that searched, but apparently NetSol has decided the their legal behind will be covered, if they ask for a name and email address — which then insist will not be used for marketing purposes and probably will not be given the reason you called.
    4) Be ready to register with your preferred registrar immediately after they release it.
    5) Be prepared to say no firmly to their kind offer to register the domain for you at their $35 bargain price.

    NetSol pulled this automated registration crap with me. They locked up 6 domains. I called customer service and politely demanded a release. I said that I did not want to go through the delay and hassle of transfers and that I wanted to pay my preferred registrar $7 per name and not $35. The customer service rep released each name and I immediately registered the names through my other vendor. Of course, he tried to get me to register with NetSol, but I told him that I despised front running. He did not argue.

    Apparently, NetSol thinks this slimy practice is worth it and it probably is. Apparently they care little for their reputation among those bright enough to research this scam. They must make a ton of money off of naive schmoos who need the name and will pay $35 just to get past the pain. Furthermore, they probably have a large business clientele. Employees are sent to get a particular name. When they search on NetSol and get their name locked up, they have to choose between losing the name and paying $35. Since it is company money and not personal money, I bet a very high percentage pay. NetSol has trained its customer service reps to handle this situation politely and to insist that they are only providing a service by locking the name. Apparently, it is worth the Customer Service expense to do this for the small minority who actually call for a release.

    Remember to be polite but firm with the Customer Service Rep at NetSol. Honey will work better, and you will get what you want. The rep did not make the policy, so you might as well have a cordial conversation, while you are getting what you want. Some A-hole managers up the chain have decided this is a good strategy. Some companies care about reputation and others don’t. NetSol is one that apparently does not.

  • Flip Hambone

    Here’s a good Network Solution (ha ha). Find a black hat programmer to automate domain searches on Network Solutions–forcing them to buy millions of domains per day. Either they would stop, or they would not be able to distinguish between real searches and auto-searches. Now to figure out that captcha….

    P.S. I use NameCheap. Good service, all the tools you need, great prices.

  • Juan

    La verdad, para mi ERAN serios y ahora son unos gitanos…

  • mike


  • sue them

    anyone fall for this fraud? i am looking for a class action lawyer and the class –

  • jenn

    guys I may sound stupid but I’m new in this domain name thing and need a lot of advaice. from a -z somebody help please

  • novakyu


    First and foremost, “Never search for your would-be domain.” Assume that it’s available, and don’t search for it or type it into URL bar of your browser until the moment you are ready to register (you could be leaking information to front runners). Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a few alternatives handy, in case it turns out it’s not available, but searching for its availability could very well be the very thing that ends it.

    Two, as for registrars, in my past experience, I’ve never had a problem when I went with the registrar used by my web host (and it was a pretty good deal, $10 for one year of private registration). If you are doing the hosting yourself and or want to keep domain registration separate, I heard these guys have cheap rates (can’t recommend them myself, as I never have used them): and

  • MTF

    Oh man, this is truly despicable NS.

    I think I’ll go out and carjack the next person asking me for directions so they don’t get carjacked by any one else. I’ll be protecting them!

  • jenn

    thanks for the info. i have one more question and help me if you can: how much would I really pay for everything. see I work for this small business and they need me to open a web page for them but honestly I dont know how. so once I buy the domain name then what? I need to pay something else or the company help me build the page for free or ? I need to know how much will cost me to open a web page? $10 per year and that’s it o $10 domain name only and something else?

    thanks very very much!

  • Roger Rogerson


    If you buy a domain name, then that is all you will get.

    If it helps, think of it like this.

    You need a Postal Address and a House for the Postal Address.
    Now, you can either build your own house (either manually or using software/tools from others), or pay someone to build it for you.
    You then need to pay Land Tax/REnt for keeping your House there.
    You then Buy (rent) a Postal address so that people can find and visit your house.

    Make sense?

    Postal Address => Domain Name
    House => Web Page/Site
    LAnd Tax/REnt => Hosting.

    So you have to buy a domain name, get hosting and attach the domain name to hte hosting, then build your website and upload it to your hosting.

    If you look aroudn for hosts, some will offer to buy the Domain NAme for you 9or refund the price of the domain name if you host with them).

    Be careful where you buy domain names from.
    I get my for around £3.00 per 2 years, and my .coms for £8 per 1 year.
    Some companiues charge £15+ for a domain name (some upto £35).
    So look first!


    As for everyone else, I cannot believe so many people are willing to gripe and bemoan the situation, yet no one is willing to actually jpoin together and make an effort to stop such behaviour being permitted.

    If you are not willing to help stop such things, then sorry, but you get what you deserve.

  • novakyu


    Just to elaborate: you should be paying about $10 to $15 a year for domain name. If it’s much higher than that, then, you should shop around. ;)

    Domain name only tells potential visitors where your servers are located. The company could opt to host their web server themselves, in which case it would be part of normal operating costs, but if they do not, they will have to pay a “hosting company” to host their web server for them.

    The cost for this varies wildly depending on the company you work with. Dreamhost (a web host I worked with before) charges somewhere around $10 /month (there are coupon codes that were released for 7th and 8th (and probably more) anniversaries that would get the first year’s cost down to $10 / yr, but that’s only the introductory rate). On the other hand, if this website is not for heavy use and/or if it’s only a test launch for something bigger later on, you might benefit from NearlyFreeSpeech’s hosting plan: $1/GB, no minimum bandwidth purchase required.

    And finally, once you have webhost (so, you have something around $10 / yr for domain and $120 /yr for hosting as an upper limit to reasonable cost), you have to actually build the web page itself … and this is something I can’t exactly put a cost on. If you know HTML and some scripting language (PHP, Python, or Perl), then it would be “free” (or included in the bulk cost for the company). If not, you may have to hire a web developer, and I don’t think you could find anyone competent willing to work for less than $20 /hr. And just as a rule, hosting companies may have some “webpage building tool”, but they won’t help you with personally building the page—they will help out with technical issues, like if you can’t get PHP working, but you still have to know how to use PHP yourself.

    Anyways. This is getting long. Let me know if you need more info.

  • novakyu

    @Roger Rogerson:

    In Europe, do you have to “buy” your postal address, or the mail doesn’t get delivered?

    I just read your post again, and unless that’s the case in Europe, the analogy makes no sense whatsoever.

    Web servers (and “cyberspace”, for that matter) are fundamentally different from physical locations and cannot be made into an analogy like that. I think the just about the closest real-world analogy to buying a domain is paying a map-making company to put your, say, restaurant on the map as a way of advertisement, but as you can see A LOT of details are plain wrong, even in this case.

  • Roger Rogerson

    I can see where you are coming from… bnut I use that analogy for those of my clietns that are not sure how thigns work… and they seem to understand it well enough.

    MAybe isntead of Postal Address I should say “P.O. Box”… then again, I do not know if other coutnries use such thigns… but all coutnries seem to have a postal service, which is why I used that analogy.

    As to A LOT of details being plain wrong, I disagree… then again, I would.

    Please, feel free to post your own analogy :D

  • novakyu

    @Roger Rogerson:

    Well, I must be thinking in a different way than others, then. No single explanation/analogy ever works for everybody.

    BTW, U.S. does have P.O. boxes (although … a lot of shipping companies won’t ship to them), so if you are speaking in English, that’s a large fraction of the audience guaranteed to know what a P.O. box is. ;)

  • Roger Rogerson

    Thats wonderful information… yet I’m suprised that you can so quickly point out flaws in an analogy, yet are unable to provide one yourself…?

    Still, enough time spent on pointless banter.

  • Bruce McFarland

    I just experienced Network Solutions’ predatory frontrunning practices. I believe their actions are illegal – it’s extortion and deceptive advertising. I don’t care about any warning somewhere on the page about so-called “New Protection Measures.”
    If they want warn me before telling me whether a domain name is available, by saying “If you continue, the name you chose will be reserved and will not be available for purchase anywhere but with Netsol for four days,” it would be better.
    If Network Solutions doesn’t stop the current practice, I bet some clever programmer types will start bombarding them with hundreds of thousands of domain name searches.

  • edward wilson

    Network Solutions stole my domain name as well.

    this is an evil company with lousy customer service.

    I will never use them again.

  • mischiefmanaged

    kindly read this guys.

    you can actually call NSI to have the reservation for your domain, deleted. if you don’t want to wait for the 4-day holding period. once the reservation has been deleted, in will be available for purchase in other registrars in a few minutes.

  • tom


    “you can actually call NSI to have the reservation for your domain, deleted. if you don’t want to wait for the 4-day holding period. once the reservation has been deleted, in will be available for purchase in other registrars in a few minutes.”

    Unfortunately, they’re not following their own policies, so I don’t put a lot of stock in the support article you cite. They pulled this on a friend’s search in January and the domain is still held on their reserveddomain NS.

    Absolute scumbags.

  • Jess

    I just got my domain released with a 3 minute phone call to 1-800-333-7680.

    I was planning on doing a lot of business with NS, hosting, e-commerce, marketing, the whole package, but if this is the way they extort their customers on the front end, I certainly won’t be dealing with them in the future.

  • Len Chaney

    I searched for a domain name on NSI, went to some place cheaper to register it for convenience (I already had 8 domains registered there) and the fact that is was a bit cheaper. I could not register the name with them because it was locked. I called NSI, notified them what had happened and they unlocked the domain. I registered it a few seconds later with their cheaper competitor.

    I don’t see the issue guys. If you the policy, go by it. It is only a minor inconvenience.

    If you are getting this pent up over something this small, I’d hate to see what you do when you get a virus or DOS attack or similar emergency. Life is rough enough. Take it easy.

    Read Matthew 6:25

    God Bless,


  • novakyu

    @Len Chaney:

    Here’s the difference between getting screwed by NSI vs. getting a virus or DoS (or even DDoS).

    When you are getting a virus or a DoS, it’s like when you are being mugged by some masked guy on a poorly-lit street. Shit happens.

    When you get screwed by NSI, it’s like when you are being mugged by a cop. That cop should be pulled from line of duty and blacklisted from any kind of security-related job.

    It’s one thing to take advantage of others, but it’s quite another to take advantage of others’ trust in you.

    And that’s why NSI needs to go out of business.

  • John

    Unfortunately, this is only half the story. Network Solutions is the proud owner of another site that will try to get you to place a bid for the domain name they grabbed from under your nose.

    For example, using the example, go to and look it up. There you can place a minimum bid of $59 to get the domain…$50+ dollars more than most any other domain service.

    Is this legal what they are doing? If not, where do we go to start a class action lawsuit?


  • Adam Strong

    John your information is wrong. To post this is at best irresponsible and at worst libelous.

    Firstly, Snapnames is NOT owned by Network Solutions and never has been. See this article :

    Secondly, there is nothing illegal about their services of acquiring previously registered domain names upon expiration or deletion. A brief explanation of their service is stated on their website as “SnapNames was formed in 2000 to provide the first commercially available technology for “back-ordering” a currently registered domain name. This pioneering service helped customers gain access to domain names that were thought to be forever out of reach. In reality, most domain names cycle back into the market at some point in time, though without specialized help, most people are unable to find or buy them.”

    Please refrain from posting inaccurate and misleading information here.

  • John

    I stand corrected that Network Solutions owns However, no question there is a business relationship in place. It’s easily proven; go to network solutions and query for domain name (one that is not yet taken), NS will grab the domain making it unavailable to any other provider. You can then buy the domain from NS for $34.99 (an inflated price) or you can go to snapnames and find the domain there for a minimum bid of $59.

    This isn’t about acquiring domain names that have been previously registered, it’s about acquiring domain names that have been searched for availability and grabbing them and offering for sale at an inflated price.

  • ken

    Sadly, I checked a domain name on Networked Solutions just to see if it was available (it was!) Then when I chose a different hosting provider I was told the domain was registered! When I called NS, they said they would release it in four days. I am something of a newbie at this, but still, this strikes me as at least unethical and should be illegal. Also, looking at the ICANN explanation of AGP, if I never registered, they should not be able to claim AGP.

  • Dustin Hamilton

    Front running” is a fuzzy euphamism for “kidnapping and ransoming” .

    haha.. too funny.

    Dustin Hamilton

  • earth

    What a scam they are, did my search on NSI and then went to register it at another site and was like wtf.-..anyways they got me…I personally favor a script that just starts searching every domain name that NO ONE ELSE WOULD WANT Like NETWORKSOLUIONSSUCK123456789(WELL MAYBE THIS ONE IS NOT A GOODEXAMPLE) are everyone just start flooding them with bogus searches, if it is a automated response, however if it is a manually response, then maybe someone should go visit them in person.

  • http://Ihatenetworksolutions john

    I had this happen to me when I checked to see if a domain was free. I now hate network solutions. Network Solutions is making a lot of enemies with this move, a lot of enemies that have web savvy and have hacking skills. I predict many more attacks on network solutions site. I am all for that.

  • Jonas Quin

    I had EXACTLY the same problem with Dotster and 000domains yesterday. I had viewed a domain name Monday, got approval for it from my client Wednesday and went back to secure it. It was taken and I was asked to bid for it. I ran a whois search and found it was still available. I then purchased it immediately on a competitor to Dotster, then wrote Dotster an email demanding an explanation. No reply yet. This could have cost me a contract. If I were based in the US I would now be talking to my lawyer regardign legal action.

    Dotster have lost my business forever. I will be transferring my domains away from them as they come up for renewal. Idiots.

    Dotster tried to screw me for a few bucks and now they have lost my business forever. I have already told as many of my friends who use, or considered using them, of this practice.

  • davidhardy

    FYI, this just happened to me – but I called up Network Solutions and asked them to explain it – and the guy offered to released the domain for me. I registered it at my registrar 5 minutes later. Their # is 1-800-333-7680

  • Jonas Quin

    Is the number 24 hours? I live in Singapore so we are 12 hours ahead of NY, meaning that if this happens to me during normal working hours my hands are tied.

  • B.K.Saravanan

    This is a age old news. All domainers know that such a scam is done there. but they have grabbed the ideas of other domainers to register 100s and 1000s of domains. Now domainers wont even check domain availability with them. Some newbies who are new to this may check with them. domain purchase needs a lot of home work + domain knowledge + brain storming + experience. A lot of domainers wont trust networksolutions because of their activity.

    Best Regards

  • Shaun Clark

    Domain Holding for 4 Days

    My sister-in-law was looking into some domain names for their new business and was on the website

    She found three domains names that she wanted to register and called me to get my Registrar’s website address because I let them buy domains at my cost.

    She tried to register one of the domains and was having some issues which said the domain was already taken. She had looked up the Whois; and apparently clicked some link to buy it now, and was sent to Network Solutions to register one domain for 5 years at around $100.00. My sister-in-law called me to ask some questions before she paid for the one domain.

    I told her to hold up and not pay Network Solutions – that was too high. I logged into my own Registrar website and proceeded to register the domains for her. I was unable to register any of the three domains because they were all taken.

    I thought this was strange because all of the domains were just available, then within an hour not available. I looked up the Whois and on all of the domains said Network Solutions was the owner with the registration date showing today.

    I called Network Solutions and had them to look up the three domains my sister-in-law was attempting to buy and asked why they were showing Network Solutions as the owner and registered today just after my sister-in-law searched them on

    The lady at Network Solutions said she would be happy to release them. I asked why they attempted to hijack these domains. She said that on their website and some other website they are associated with they put a 4 day hold on the domain name to assure you won’t lose it.

    I have heard of this happening some years back but wasn’t aware it was still going on. The lady released the domains and I was able to assist my sister-in-law with purchasing them under my Registrar.

    I believe this is wrong and unethical.

  • Public Citizen

    I just became aware of this after a domain I wanted, which I searched using NetworkSolutions website, and which was available, has now been hijacked by Network Solutions.

    Out of anger I searched for “” and guess what, they now hijacked that too!

  • Lynder

    right now i’m asking them to release one of my searched domains. i’ll keep you updated

  • Greenville Computer Support

    I had this happen to a client who is an attorney.

    He thought it sucks, and figures that someday soon someone will file a class action about it, but in the meantime it goes on.

    The best the everyone can do is to complain about this in as many forums as possible so that if anyone searches for network solutions on google they will be able to see that networks solutions = domain pirates.

  • Joe Ray

    I used to have to deal with netsol back in the ninety’s and they sucked big time.
    A few years ago I picked up and at the time they owned that name in .net and .org but somehow missed the .com.

  • GTP Front-Running

    I have been doing business with GoDaddy for years. As of yesterday, April 15, 2008 our business relationship is over. I had just finished a website and was now in the process of finding a good domain for it on GoDaddy. I came up with a very simple, short domain that said it all. “Nice don’t you think?” I was very excited to see that is was available. I tested a few others ideas that I liked and some where taken, some were not. I came up with three domain names that that were available. and proceeded to register them. When I attempted to register it was taken. I couldn’t believe it! I typed in the domain in the address bar and sure enough it was parked on GoDaddy’s website. Now it was only about 1hr and 45 minutes from when it was availibale to when it was taken. I work from home and got a call that I had to deal with, other wise I would have registered them immediately. This has never happen to me before. So I did a little research. I am not the only person this has happened to. Many other using GoDaddy to search for domain names have had the same expirence. You could say it was a fluke, I say GoDaddy is using unfair consumer techniques. Don’t believe me? Come up with a good domain name. Search it on GoDaddy. Wait an hour or then check it again. Boy will you be surprised as I was, how fast a good domain idea gets taken by GoDaddy. Search the web for “GoDaddy steals domain” You’ll see. This is no coincidence, This is an unfair practice by

  • Lemuel Chua

    I’ve just whois a domain in network solutions and it says the domain is available. after an hour or two i decided to have it registered to and look what i found. networksolutions had it registered on the very moment i queried that domain.

  • Greg

    First time this squatting thing has happened to me but I’m through searching on NetSol as well!

    I will say that the phone call works like a charm. I had to wait 6 minutes, not 4 days, so I do commend them for at least doing that…as slimy as their practices are, they will release the domain if you call them.

    Here it is Saturday and I waited on hold about 2 minutes…not bad for a weekend. They never questioned my desire to have it released nor did he try and convince me to register it there. One quick call, $25 saved.

    So, if it happens to you…WHEN it happens to you, just call them.

  • travesti

    This is a age old news. All domainers know that such a scam is done there. but they have grabbed the ideas of other domainers to register 100s and 1000s of domains. Now domainers wont even check domain availability with them. Some newbies who are new to this may check with them. domain purchase needs a lot of home work + domain knowledge + brain storming + experience. A lot of domainers wont trust networksolutions because of their activity.

  • joe

    We’ve bought quite a few domains, most of which can be found at, over the past few years and I must admit I would never trust networksolutions for domain purchasing. We usually go with godaddy as they seem to be a little less slimy. It seems as though domain selling has been not as compelling as it once was though. I think additional work is needed to increase the value of a domain like tying the domain to a logo or image that helps you remember the domain. At any rate, it’s still a little disheartening to see the kind of back stabbing attempts that companies like networksolutions try to make at domainers.

  • DigitalRev

    Holding the domain for 5 days does nothing useful and they will not be able to keep doing this for long. Like their previous stunts – they will eventually be forced to stop.

  • Portable Media Player

    I am a President and CEO of a major Corporation. I just found out about this today. We are presently owners of 1,275 domains through our sub companies. We are no in the process of moving all of our domain names away from Network Solutions. We have Trademark/Patent pending status on 832 of the domains, which entitles us to Trademark infringement damages. 18 of our Attorneys are presently preparing a law suit to sue Network Solutions for punitive and legitimate financial loss damages and devious business practices.

  • t rex

    Anyone sent this to the Department of Justice? Looks actionable.

  • toys

    Sashi’s comments above are incredible. Of course they’re front-running. There’s no way of explaining this. So they’ve had ‘customers complain’ that those domains are already taken, eh? Well, you know by who

  • Frank Michlick

    It seems that Network Solutions stopped this practice since ICANN is now charging the $0.20 ICANN fee per domain also for domains that are deleted again within the grace period.

  • SEO Services Provider

    Holding the domain for 5 days does nothing useful and they will not be able to keep doing this for long. Like their previous stunts – they will eventually be forced to stop.

  • sohbet odalari

    they will eventually be forced to stop