Domain Name Scams


If you own a domain or website, chances are you’ve received unsolicited “special offers” related to it.  Much of this junk mail is not just unnecessary and unwanted, but also illegitimate.  There are a number of scams associated with domains that are sent out to domain registrants regularly.  Some of the more common ones are as follows:

Domain in China –

In this scam, the holder of a domain (often listed  in public records as such) is contacted by someone who claims to work at a domain registration company in China.  They say that they have received a request from another company to register a domain either with your brand name in it or very similar to a brand name you already use.  They go on to tell you that having other people using your brand could cause confusion or damage your reputation and offer to sell you the domain, instead of that other company.  They do this, of course, out of the goodness of their hearts.  Unfortunately, this is a scam.   There is probably no other company looking to register your brand as a domain in China.  The people sending you the email just want you to pay them to register an unnecessary domain.

Registration Expiry –

Often, domain holders receive an email like this.  It appears to be a bill or invoice, notifying the recipient that the registration for their domain is about to expire.  However, if you read further, you will usually see that the “registration” is actually for SE submission or Search engine submission.  They warn that if you don’t register/renew, some search engines won’t list your website.  You do not need to pay a fee to have your site submitted to search engines.  Usually, a search engine will find your site on its own.  If you make a large update and would like to have your site reviewed by the search engine, or you have a brand new site, you can hurry this process by submitting your site to the major search engines for free, via their provided tools.  At Faster Solutions, our marketing department takes care of this for any clients with a marketing package.  Other give aways that this type of email is a scam  include disreputable “From” addresses.  I often see this scam with a cost of $75, and with text in the fine print indicating that you are not obligated to pay for this order unless you complete your payment. Often, the expiration date does not match the actual expiration date of your domain, which you can look up easily at on a number of sites. http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp

Domain Transfer –

This one looks quite a lot like a bill for a domain renewal, as well.  It may be via email or snail mail.  The expiration date may or may not be accurate.  However, careful reading may reveal that this is a “transfer,” not just a renewal.  The company sending it wants you to pay them for your domain, instead of your current registrar.  By transferring, you may incur different fees, make it much more difficult to manage your domain and domain records, and may lose benefits that you have with your current registrar.  Warning signs here include senders that don’t sound familiar or amounts that seem different than usual.  Always check to confirm that you actually have domains with the sending company before paying.  Again, you can look up who the registrar is for your domain at a number of free websites.  If the letter is from anyone else, don’t pay it.  You can contact your registrar or website provider to confirm if you are unsure.  One company well-known for trying this scam is the Domain Registry of America, also known as:

Letters from DRoA

Photo courtesy of katsbits.com

  • DRoA
  • Domain Registry of Canada
  • Domain Renewal Group
  • Domain Registry of Europe
  • Namejuice.com
  • Domain Registry of Australia
  • Internet Registry of Canada
  • Liberty Names of America
  • Yellow Business
  • Internet Corporation Listing Service
  • Brandon Gray Internet Services

The main things to remember when receiving domain-related letters and email are these:

  • If it isn’t directly from your registrar, don’t pay.
  • Read carefully, as the scammers may have chosen a name or domain very similar to, but slightly different from, your actual domain or resgistrar.
  • If you aren’t sure who your registrar is, check.
  • Don’t respond to these emails, or you are just confirming that it is a valid email and will receive more spam.
  • If you do want to switch to a different registrar, do some research and go to them through their website, rather than responding to an unsolicited email.
  • Be wary of any domain or website offers you didn’t solicit, not just registration offers.  Do research on the offering company, including third-party reviews.
  • If an offer seems too nice to be true, it probably is.

 

2 Responses to Domain Name Scams

  1. Hey, thanks for the great post and the warnings. It’s so easy for people to get taken in by these legit-sounding messages. You did a good job summarizing the ones to be wary of. Thanks!
    Brian

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