In my article What do you know about your domain names? I aimed to help you set up and maintain good records about any domain names you own. One suggestion was to find out and record which company the domain name is registered with.
The renewal scam
Unfortunately scammers are out to take advantage of those who don’t know enough about their domain names. A colleague who read the last Tip made this observation:
… something that might be useful for a later article — emphasise not only knowing who your domain registrar is but also checking the validity of any correspondence regarding your domain.
There are scammers out there, one American company in particular, who like sending out letters to people sayingit’s time to renew your domain name, please send us the money for it. I receive these letters for all my domains, and while I know to ignore them, I’m sure many unwitting clients would be hoodwinked into thinking they’re genuine and sending off the money.
If you receive a communication about your domain name, suggesting it’s time to renew, refer to your records:
- Is this invoice from the usual source — your web developer or the domain registrar who registered the domain?
- Is the correspondence actually about your exact domain name? Another scam is to catch out the unwary by mentioning a very similar sounding domain. For example, you may have registered
example.org.nzand they talk about
The related domain scam
Another scam is the one that offers to obtain for you a similar domain to the one you own. For example, I recently obtained the domain name
doglobby.org. I aim to use it for advocacy in relation to pet dogs.
Since then I’ve received two emails offering
doglobby.com. One said:
doglobby.com is coming availabe for sale in a few days.
Since you own the domain doglobby.org, we thought you’d be interested in doglobby.com.
If you do have interest in acquiring doglobby.com, please fill up priority notice form availble here: [url removed], and we will contact you as soon as the domain is available for purchase.
At the page they linked to I could offer an amount of money as a bid for the domain.
The other scam arrived once doglobby.com was actually available and offered to register the name for US$100. If you go to GoDaddy.com you’ll find you could register the name yourself for US$10 — the regular price.
Be smart with domain names
It makes sense to consider buying domain names similar to the ones you already have.1 That’s best done at time of purchase, but don’t fall in to the scammer traps. Know who your registrar is, keep good records and scrutinise carefully any offers to renew, order or reserve domain names on your behalf.
Work with your trusted web developer, and with your selected domain registrar. Don’t fall prey to the domain name scammers.
1 A decade ago when I was training people on how to use the Internet the domain
whitehouse.gov led to a legitimate site for US Government matters. On the other hand, the very similar
whitehouse.com was a site showing graphic content of an ‘adult’ nature. That site now carries political content.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2009. This article has been modified for publication here.