Domain Name Scams – Scare and Renewal Tactics for Domain Registrations

12th August, 2009 in Hosting

I have many customers asking for advice on emails, letters and phone calls they receive from un-heard of companies offering domain name registrations and renewals. They are mostly scams and not legitimate, so do not take any action otherwise it could cost you a lot of money, or worse, the loss in your domain name. This blog explains the popular scams domain name owners will receive.

What is the Domain Name Scam?

If you have registered a new domain name and/or have a well indexed site, it is likely at some point you will receive an email or letter from a company you have never heard of trying to sell domain name registrations and renewals to you. There are two common types of scam:-

1. The Scare Tactic

The email or letter will state that another company is trying to buy other domain names that are the same as yours but with different extensions. For example, if you own yourdomain.co.uk, the letter, email or phone call will state someone is truing to buy yourdomain.com, yourdomain.net, yourdomain.biz, yourdomain.org etc. etc. They will state that before they register the domains for their client, they researched your domain name to find you actually own it and to offer the sale to you first rather then their client. If you decline they will sell the domains to their client. This sounds quite scary doesn’t it! How awful would it be that someone else owns a lot of domain names for your company name, but you only have the .co.uk, and your legitimate and they are not?

Do not pay attention to these warnings, they are scams!

The reason for this scare tactic is so you will quickly snap up these domains using the company that warned you, hence making a nice sale for that company. Sometimes they even recommend a 10 year purchase making them hundreds of pounds in total.

Domain name registrations are completely automated with the leading domain name registration companies and they do not check if a similar domain is taken. Therefore anyone can buy any domain if it is not registered regardless if someone already owns the same or similar name. Nobody would even use a company that manually checks if other similar  oe same domains arer registered who then contact those owners to warn them. If someone wanted to register the available domains that are the same as yours, they can do it.

You should still make the decision whether you want to register the other domains. Many companies register at least a few such as the .co.uk, .com and .net maybe to be sure no one else can buy them. But the more domains you register the more costly it becomes. If you do decide to register a few others, do not use the company that have just contacted you to warn you. Use a legitimate domain name registration company who do not use such scare tactics to make sales. Some good companies would be www.1and1.co.uk, www.123-reg.co.ukk and www.ukreg.co.uk.

2. The Renewal / Transfer Request Deceipt

The second most popular one I receive is a company stating you need to renew your domain name as it’s due to expire (which it could very well be) and to complete the form with payment so your domain name is renewed. In fact what you are doing is transferring your domain name to that provider so again they make a nice sale. It is deceiving as reading the letter closely will in fact state you are transferring, but they make it sound you are just renewing your domain name.

Do not pay attention to this either, it is also a scam!

Generally the letters I get are from the Domains Registry of America. Only renew your domain name with the company that you registered with, unless you really do want to move it to someone else.

By the way… Your domain name should be setup for automated renewal. This ensures it will never expire. All the leading domain registration companies offer this so make sure you have it.

Are There Other Scams?

Yes, there would be other. The above are the most common ones. I also receive scams on the following:-

1. Community Trademark Registration Invoices

If you register a Trademark you may receive an invoice for quite a lot of money to register the Community Trademark equivalent. Do not pay attention unless you do want the Community Trademark, but even then do it through the www.ipo.gov.uk or the company you used to register the original trademark.

2. Web Directory Invoices

You may receive an invoice to be listed in a web directory you never heard of. You can decide to pay and be listed, but first check if you really want to. Most web directories are no good, they do not show in results on search engines. If Google and other search engines consider the site to be a bad, spam or low ranked site, then having your site listed on there will negatively affect your site also. My advice is search Google for certain keywords for your business and the Web Directories that do appear are the ones that you should be listed on, not the ones you cannot find. Again, its a nice scam.

If I receive any others I will add them here.

What if I am Not Sure if It is a Scam Or Not?

Just drop me an email or call me with the details and I can help you decide whether it’s a scam and whether you do want to renew more domain names.

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