Over the years I have come across a few people who believe that if they search for domain names using any of the domain registrars on the internet there are people ready to steal their domain name ideas. This thinking believes that if you are going to search for a domain name for your new venture, you better be ready to register that domain name on the spot or risk having someone else see that you looked up the domain name and register it ahead of you. . .
So is this possible?
The short answer is no. Unfortunately though, it isn't necessarily so simple. There are ways that someone could use to see what you are doing online and take action based on what you did. These methods would require at least one of three things. Either a keylogger that can track everything you type into your computer (usually delivered via a virus or spyware), a page that has been hacked to capture your details or a phishing scam where someone creates a web page that looks like a legitimate domain registrar but is in fact a cleverly devised page to capture your domain name ideas.
How likely are any of these options? The best protection from a keylogger is to have a recently updated anti-virus program. Hacked websites are a little harder to be able to detect. It is also much more rare. While it is possible for you to land on a domain registrars website that has been hacked, it is unlikely. A close cousin to a hacked website is running into a well designed phishing scam. I am not aware of any phishing scam centered around the registration of domain names. This doesn't mean it can't happen, but I'm not aware of any such scams.
So how can you protect yourself for scam artists?
Visit sites that you can trust. Look for websites that don't look like they have been thrown together by a child. Make sure you are protecting your computer with a good anti-virus program. Don't click on links found in emails to go to a website, instead, type in the web address directly to reduce the chance of being fooled.
I counsel you to do your domain name brainstorming searches in peace. Know that stealing domain names is uncommon. If a domain you have identified as available gets registered between the time you do an availability search and the time you try to register it, it very well may be chalked up to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people registering domains worldwide at any given time. If the domain name you looked at was an especially good one, chances are someone else would think so too.
Joe Duchesne works with Yowling Inc, a web hosting company that also let's people register a domain for as little as $8.99 a year.