If you thought that identity theft was only about losing your credit cards or social security number, I hate to tell you that for many internet writers there could be much more to it. This week I had the most surreal experience.

Of late I have been thinking that the domain name for my website (www.reenitamalhotrahora.com) is too long and that I should shorten it to my first name, www.reenita.com, a domain that I also own. Or so I thought! It turns out that reenita.com expired last month and before I had a chance to renew it, someone else snapped up the domain name.

‘Reenita’ is the not the most common name on the planet. My immediate thought was “Why would anyone want to buy out my name?” Recently, I had searched various female names as potential domain names for a possible new business. I was shocked to find how many of them led to ‘adult entertainment’ sites. And so I succumbed to paranoia by spending most of Tuesday night envisioning that someone out there was going to (mis)use my name to create such a site. My reputation was doomed…and so were all my plans for unique content on my site.

Come Wednesday morning I called the registrant of reenita.com to negotiate a settlement. I guess there are a host of buyers out there who are looking to purchase expired names because they know that there is a ready market for them. I immediately entered into a public auction lasting 6 hours to bid for the domain. The uniqueness of my name came through for me. Luckily no one else was searching for ‘reenita’ during that particular 6 hour period. I won it back for the grand sum of $39!

I realize full well that one does not have the right to own a domain name at will but I cannot tell you about the emotions that surge at the thought (and in my case, it was just a thought) that someone else might misuse your identity. This week, I sent a silent prayer out to my mother thanking her for giving me a name that most people don’t have. I also made a promise to myself that I would no longer take it for granted. I guess I had better start using reenita.com!