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In 2005 I founded a finance company that went on to become a successful multi-million dollar business. I left that company completely in 2015 and relinquished any and all control over all operations. Sadly, that meant that – compliant with normal business practice – my company emails ceased to function. Despite being the founder of the business, I was unable to retain an email redirection – causing all sorts of communication problems.

The domain we used for email generally wasn’t the same as that of the company website. However, when I left that changed and and a generic exchange server was set up with an Aussie ISP using the primary domain name. Last week I did a WHOIS search out of curiosity and noticed that the former domain hadn’t only expired… but it had been expired for nearly 4 months. I quickly snapped up the name and reactivated my old email with a catch-all set up for the other addresses I may have created over the period. Within a few hours, hundreds of emails that had been bouncing around the web started piling into my Inbox – many of them extremely sensitive (containing financial records and other personal data).

First of all, letting a branded domain name expire is nothing short of reckless from a brand-management perspective. The investment in domain name protection is a small measure against any other organisation with similar sounding names snatching up a piece of your online identity. More importantly, continued registration of a domain via an auto-renew feature or just vigilant monitoring is a means of protecting the proprietary and sensitive information that might continue to be sent to associated emails. While your privacy policy might make claims of privacy, letting domain names carelessly and recklessly expire might be seen as a breach of privacy legislation… potentially leaving you liable for damages caused by negligence. As evidenced by my experience, this is particularly true – aggravated by virtue of the company holding an (Australian) Credit Licence. Since oversight of the finance industry is so regimented, the “reasonable measures” to ensure privacy were seemingly ignored – thus exposing the finance details of customers’ to (potentially) unscrupulous types with less than honorable intent.

The message is clear, and it goes beyond just “protecting your brand”: don’t let your domain names expire.

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