Today I would like to talk about a little known but prolific scam that I’ve been asked about several times within the last few months. The scam has to do with domain name registration and domain name “services”.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the core of that alpha-numeric string you type in your browser to get to a web site. It is usually an alpha-numeric string followed by a period and then another two or three alpha characters. Some examples are Google.com or ChangingLanes.biz. By adding on to the domain name you create a URL that will take you to a certain page on a web site. Such as www.ChangingLanes.biz/index.cfm.
If you ask any business they probably have at least one active domain name and several registered but unused domain names.
Having a domain name is a virtual address for your business. That address should correspond with your business name so people can easily find you. A domain is a very important piece of your business and should be protected. Because if you lose a domain name it can be disastrous to your company. Some one else could buy the domain and put up what ever they want.
Like with real estate there is perceived value and what you actually pay. Perceived value is based on popularity of the domain, traffic, and general worth of the company. So even though you might pay $13 to register the domain name, if you build your business name the domain name might be worth thousands of dollars or more on the open market.
To buy or keep a domain name you must pay a company, known as a Registrar to register it for a certain amount of time or pay a reseller of a Registrar to register the domain name. Because of this there is money to be had in the domain name selling and renewing business.
Like with any market there are some companies that don’t have good values. They will do every thing they can to get business.
A common scam I see a lot is the Domain Renewal Scam. It’s where a reseller or a company acting like a reseller isn’t the registrar of your domain but acts like they are. They usually send an email or letter that looks like a bill. They make it sound like they are the ones who are now handling your domain name, to make it worse they try to charge you a higher amount to renew. If you actually go through with paying the fake bill, you authorize them to transfer the domain from the current registrar/reseller to them. When you do figure out they are not the right company they make it difficult for you to transfer your domain name away from them. If they are really shady they will just completely take over your domain.
The scams don’t stop there. There are scam emails that make it sound like your domain name will be taken off of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing unless you pay a fee to them to resubmit your domain name. That’s not how most search engines work. Any quality search engine won’t make you pay to be listed. website load speed test . Nor do you have to resubmit your domain name to be listed. In this case the domain listing service is just to rip you off.
Unfortunately, people fall for these scams all the time because the letters and emails look legit. All the right information is there because you can look up who owns any domain using WHOIS. And once the scam company has control of your domain, you might not be able to get it back. They also might take over ownership and point the domain to a different server. Effectively erasing your business from the Internet and stealing your traffic.
But what can you do to keep your domain safe? The easiest and best way is to know who your domain is registered with, who actually controls your domain name, and when your domain is set to renew.
If you registered your domain name then you should know this information. If your web master registered your domain name, ask them for the information. Find out if your web master will take care of renewing the domain or if you have to.
If you receive an email or letter from some random company claiming that you need to renew your domain or do some thing with your domain, take a moment and ask yourself “Is this the company that actually takes care of my domain name?”, “What service are they trying to charge me for?” If you don’t know, ask some one who does, like your web master. Remember its better to ask or do a little research than to loose your domain name or money.
To find out about other domain name scams or to read up about the domain name scams that are out there do a Google search for “domain name scams”.