It’s late at night, do you know where your domain name is? It might not be where you thought it was. If you are not careful you may wind up as the customer of a company you’ve never heard of before, and they’re ok with that. Read on for five tips to protect yourself from domain name scams.
SteadmanTech has offered domain name registration services for many years now. Over that time this business has had its changes, opportunities and challenges, but one thing has always remained consistent. There is always someone trying to trick my clients. Most notably, there always seems to be someone taking shots at Domain Slamming my customers.
Domain Slamming is a technique used by less than reputable domain name registrars who wish to trick registrants into switching from their existing service provider. The scam is almost always initiated through the mail and comes to you in the form of an official looking letter. These letters are very carefully crafted to look like an official notification that you are about to lose your online identity. It’s a technique perfected by the Canadian company “Domain Registry of America” who was eventually barred by the Federal Trade Commission from continuing these misleading practices.
Just as bad or maybe even worse than being the victim of Domain Slamming, is another common domain name related scam I would call a “Domain Switching Scam”. Once again you are usually approached through the mail with a very official looking letter warning that you need to protect your online identity. The pitch is that you need to secure your domain name before it expires and is lost for good. The scam here is that the document you’ve received is actually an order form for a completely different domain name. One you never owned to begin with!
Five Tips to Avoid Domain Name Scams
- Know Where Your Domain Name is Registered — Be sure you know who your official domain name registrar is so you know which solicitations are legitimate and which are not.
- Check Your Domain Name Registration Details — By running a Whois search on your own domain name you can verify all of the registration details including who the registrar is, who is listed as the domain name registrant (owner), when the domain name is set to expire and more.
- Keep Domain Registration Contact Information Current — This is very important to assure that you do not lose control of your domain name. It is especially important to keep your contact email address(es) up to date. These addresses are usually the first line of communication your domain name registrar will use to contact you and are sometimes used to verify your identity as the true domain name registrant.
- Never Respond to Solicitations Via US Mail — In every case that I am aware of, current domain name registrars first line of communication is always via email, NOT by US Mail (it used to be different). In at least 90% of all scam solicitations I have ever seen, the communications are sent via US Mail. Some used to come via your fax machine, but that practice has largely faded away.
- Renew Your Domain Name Well Before Its Expiration Date — Most domain name related scams are initiated in the last six months of an active domain registration period. Remember that you can renew your domain name registration at any time and you DO NOT LOSE ANY OF THE CURRENT REGISTRATION PERIOD. Anytime you renew a domain name registration, the renewal period is added to the existing registration period, extending the registration from that point forward.