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Domain Name Registration & Renewal Scams

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 22 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Scam Domain Name Scam Domain Name

Domain name scams are a particularly annoying type of business scam, where a business is either sent an unsolicited invoice for renewal of an internet domain name with a name that’s similar to its own, or occasionally a first refusal of a similar sounding domain name.

So, how do these types of domain name scam work? Well there are two basic methods that scammers will use to try and trick you out of your money, as well as standard ‘phishing’ type scams that also involve domain name registrations and renewals.

The ‘First Refusal’ Domain Name Scam.

You could get a telephone call from a person claiming to be a domain name registration agent. This so-called agent will try to tell you that you that someone else is interested in, or just about to buy an internet domain name which sounds similar to that of your business. They will also tell you that you must act quickly if you want to register the domain names yourself, and will try to persuade you to give them your credit card details over the telephone. Sometimes you may only be given minutes to make a decision. While it’s likely that they will actually do as they say, which is something, you can be assured that they will also charge you way over the odds for domain names that you didn’t actually need or want and which were unlikely to have been on some other company’s wish list anyway.

Another way they make more money out of businesses is by selling these pointless domain names to businesses for long periods – sometimes up to ten years. In fact, it’s not even possible to register some domains for ten years, but by the time you find out, they will have done a disappearing act...and taken your money with them.

There are a number of variations on the spiel that they use to convince you, but in reality you can register a domain name instantly and there are no notifications if someone else tries to register something similar. It just doesn’t happen. If someone calls you and tries to tell you otherwise, they are just trying to rip you off, and you should hang up on them using whatever level of rudeness you feel appropriate.

The Domain Name Renewal Scams

With this scam, you’ll usually be sent an official looking letter, which appears to be a renewal notice for your domain name. The letter will refer to the renewal of your current domain name, but it will have come from a different company to the one that you actually registered it with.

There are email versions of this scam popping up all over the place too. One recent one originates from Russia, where a website with a domain name registered in Moscow sends businesses spam emails reminding people that they need to renew their domain name. Of course, there’s a link in the email which you will have to click on to do this...and it takes you through to a domain name scam website.

The subject line of the email will be something along the lines of: "Important information regarding you domain name" – and it’s usually littered with grammar and spelling errors that should give it away even if your spam filter doesn’t catch it first.

How to Protect your Business from Domain Name Scams

Most domain name scams are fairly easy to see through and they rely on people not being web-savvy, or taking things at face value. A little knowledge can go a long way, so always keep the details of your domain name registration company safe so that you can refer back to it.

Never agree to a registration of a domain name over the telephone. Don’t be pressured into signing up to anything, and certainly don’t respond to a phishing email that comes from a company you’ve never heard of.

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