Every year or so it seems, I'm receiving quite a few emails from various domain registrars asking me to verify that the contact information of my domains are correct.
Contact information link a person or company, or proxy, to a domain name. These information may change over time, for instance when a site gets sold, the owner moves, or if the phone number changes.
Some owners add fake contact information to domain names, while others use proxy services to hide their identity on the Internet and avoid being linked to that particular domain name.
Up until now, there has been no repercussion if you did not verify the information. You could still be reported to your registrar and depending on how things are handled by the company, may have lost access to the domain until things got sorted out.
The ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement changes that.
Whois Accuracy Program Specification specifies what is required of domain owners once the agreement has been executed by their registrars, and what will happen if owners do not comply in time.
Except as provided in Section 3 below, within fifteen (15) calendar days after receiving any changes to contact information in Whois or the corresponding customer account contact information related to any Registered Name sponsored by Registrar (whether or not Registrar was previously required to perform the validation and verification requirements set forth in this Specification in respect of such Registered Name), Registrar will validate and, to the extent required by Section 1, verify the changed fields in the manner specified in Section 1 above.
Section 1 details that all fields must be filled out correctly, and that both email and phone numbers are to be verified. This means basically that if the selected phone number or email address fails to verify, that the domain will be shut down by the registrar until that issue is fixed.
This kicks in the moment information change, for instance after the sale of a domain name, but also when they appear for the first time after registration.
Registrars will have to verify and validate the information within 15 calendar days after changes have been made to contact information
If Registrar does not receive an affirmative response from the Registered Name Holder providing the required verification, Registrar shall either verify the applicable contact information manually or suspend the registration, until such time as Registrar has verified the applicable contact information.
Registrars may use automated systems for validation, for instance by sending out confirmation emails or SMS, or manual validation, for instance by phone calls. If those fail, the registration of the domain will be suspended until the contact information can be verified and validated.
This means that domain owners will have to pay attention to verification emails that they receive from their registrars. It is no longer possible to simply ignore those, as access to the domain may be lost in the process for as long as it takes to validate the information.
Tip: you may also want to check your registrar's domain management page where all of your domains are listed. You may find some where "pending verification" or "validation" is listed as the status. Make sure you correct any issues here to avoid further problems.