Domain Scams Still Alive & Well in 2020
We’ve heard from two clients who got hit with a Domain Slamming scheme. When we wrote this article several years ago, the bulk of the Domain Scams arrived via regular mail. Now they arrive via email and even social media.
Here’s what you need to know to avoid falling victim to this scam.
Imagine this Scenario:
An official-looking letter or email arrives stating that your domain name is about to expire (see examples further down on the page). At first glance, it looks legit enough and the notice is emphatic about how “Urgent” the matter is. You’re not sure when your domain expires, so you pay the requested fee, fill out the form or paperwork and go about your business.
By completing this transaction, unknowingly, you have transferred the registration of your domain to an unscrupulous registrar and you’ve become the victim of “Domain Slamming.”
When you pay the slammer, you’ve transferred your domain to them and you are now their customer. Depending on your configuration, this can cause your website or email to go offline. In the worst case scenario, you can lose ownership of your domain. You’ve also probably paid more than your standard domain renewal.
How Domain Slamming Works
How Do Domain Slammers Get Your Information?
If you have not paid for a Private Registration, your web address, contact information and the date your domain expires are all public information. Domain slammers get this information and send out notices by mail or email.
Why Do Domain Slammers Try to Get You to Transfer Your Domain?
Usually, the slammer’s goal is to get people to transfer domain names over to the slammer’s registrar, usually at a much higher price than typical domain registrations.
How to Identify a Scam Domain Renewal
Beware the “Urgent Renewal Notice”
Scam Domain Registrations use Scary Language Like “Urgent” and “Failure to Complete.”
The slammer makes it appear that they are your existing registrar (the company that registered your domain) and that they are routinely asking you to renew your domain. Sometimes, their notices contain warnings in big, bold print, such as, “URGENT RENEWAL NOTICE,” or, “YOUR DOMAIN IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE.”
Look for these Tell-Tale Words
Scam domain name renewals will almost always include language that “technically” identifies the notification as a solicitation. Typically the word “solicitation” or “offer” is somewhere in the communication which most likely protects them from legal action.
Don’t Be Fooled!
- Ignore any correspondence from a registrar unless you know for certain that it is the company with whom you originally registered your domain.
Domain Slammers make it look like they are your registrar and they also make it appear as if they are giving you a great deal to renew your domain. Don’t fall for it.
- If you do not know who your current registrar is, or if you do not know your domain expiration date, look it up.
As domain slammers have proven, it’s easy! Search the WhoIs database for your domain name and make note of your registrar and your expiration date.
Renew Your Domain Name Legitimately
If you are a SangFroid Web hosting client, we most likely renew your domain for you and send you an annual invoice. If you are not our client (or if you are our client but you login and manage your own accounts) you should simply log in to your domain registrar and renew prior to your domain expiration date.
You may receive renewal/expiration notices at 90, 60 and 30 days out from your actual registrar letting you know about the upcoming renewal or expiration.
- Extend your domain registration for many years. Renew your domain for 5 or even 10 years. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your domain is secure and paid-for. And you’ll also have the added bonus of ranking higher with search engines, who look favorably upon businesses who show they are “in it for the long haul.”
- Set up auto-renewal. If you do not want to renew for many years, at least sign up for domain name auto-renewal. Your name will never lapse, and you can ignore all renewal solicitations. One less thing to worry about!