Domain Renewal Scam – Warning

Dec, 09, 2009 | Domain Names | 7 responses

Knowing how important the domain name is to individuals and businesses online, some sneaky scam artists are tricking people into renewing the domain name early, and transferring domain registrars in the process. There is one company in particular that we have received various letters on ourselves that we would like to point out to unsuspecting domain owners. We have also decided to label it as a scam even though it is technically a legit, yet shady, business practice.

Domain Renewal Scams

Since domain owner information and domain expiration dates are listed in the public WHOIS directory, this company is taking advantage of this knowledge and sending out domain renewal notice advertisements (that look like bills) in advance. The whole point of the advertisement / bill is to make it appear as though you must pay in order to maintain domain ownership. However, even though the advertisement / bill makes the company seem to be the current registrar at face value, the fine print actually states that this is a form to TRANSFER domain registration from your actual registrar to this new company.

For this one particular company that plagues Australian domain owners, the problems are as follows:

  1. Most domain names are only registered on a yearly basis, so by the time the domain finally rolls around for renewal, the owner may have forgotten the exact name of the company initially used. The individuals too busy to tend to the fine details could possibly respond to the advertisment / bill with payment without understanding the true meaning.
  2. The wording on the front of the document, which looks like a bill, does actually state it would call for a domain transfer, but those that don’t read the document thoroughly could easily overlook this fact because of the way the document is designed.
  3. The fine print on the back is extremely lengthy and small. Most people will not take the time to read this information and simply overlook it as technical drivel. Come on, you know you do it, too.
  4. The payment sent to this company is non-refundable should issues arise and the domain transfer is denied. The company then states that it will try to register the domain name from the date of expiry and onward, but even if the company is unable to register it, the fee is still non-refundable.
  5. The fee for the domain renewal can be quite high. So, when a person might be spending $19.90 for a one year .com domain name renewal with Digital Pacific, the company in question is charging more than twice that amount.
  6. The company is technically American based, but they have acquired an Australian billing address that they paste all over the letter. This adds to the confusion of the Australian domain name holder.

The best way to avoid domain renewal scams, such as this, is to just be aware. Know when your domain is set to expire, and best of all, know the name of your current domain name provider.
The best thing to do if you get one of these letters is to put it straight in to the paper recycle bin. Don’t even give it any thought.

Have you ever received a sneaky letter like this pertaining to your domain name? If so, we’d love to hear about it so we can keep our customers informed.

Added 31/03/10
As an addition to this post we have just been made aware of another domain renewal scam that may be doing the rounds. Please be aware of the following email.
Domain Renewal Scams

Added 17/09/10
Yet another domain name scam. Please be aware of the following email.

Domain Renewal Scams September 2010

Comments

Comment Posted By: Joe

I got one of these letters a few weeks ago, Luckily i didnt pay it!

Comment Posted By: Kane

I get letters from that exact company shown in the example all the time.

I’ve always known they were fake though.
But I bet A LOT of people dont 🙁

Kane

Comment Posted By: Ben

I’ve had these in the past, too. A further trick is making sure the relevant person in the business is aware of it. If the domain billing contact is simply accounts payable, it could easily get paid if the person who handles this isn’t aware of when and what to expect for domain renewals. Fortunately in my case the technical people were consulted before anything was done, but it could easily have gone wrong!

Comment Posted By: Graham Kay

Hey
Lucky I checked.
Difference is that the “Domain Renewal Group” letter actually came in the mail via Australia Post.
I didn’t think anything of it until I sat down to decide how ling to renew for then it accured to me I had never heard of these guys – I would be expecting some sort of notice from Digital Pacific. In my case it is only me but in a large organisation it could easily slip through accounts payable. There should be some means to combat this for our Aussie companies

Comment Posted By: Digital Pacific

Hi Graham,

Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to let us know that you did receive a letter.Unfortunately this is a constant problem that we are faced with and while we do attempt to educate our customers about this through our blog and twitter (@digitalpacific) they keep resurfacing. I will suggest a new message about domain renewal scams be added into our monthly newsletter, facebook, support ticket footers and even more regularly on twitter however, this does rely on people actually seeing it and taking action.

We’re making every effort to keep you informed about these issues as we learn about them however, the number one tip for protecting yourself is check the fine print carefully before you click ‘OK’ or fill in your credit card details. This is equally important when receiving a letter by surface mail, an email, or a box that pops up on your computer screen. If you try to install new software online and see ticks in boxes, check what you’re agreeing to.

Of all the golden rules for safe Internet usage this has to be the main one, protect your identity, your computer equipment and your finances by taking the time to read the offer presented to you. Legitimate companies are obliged to state the exact terms of any agreement and if you don’t like the deal, keep looking. With the Internet you have instant access to the best providers in the world, check any offers first to see what else is available.

Once again Graham, thank you very much for your time and for letting us know that these particular letters are still doing the rounds.

Kind Regards,
Digital Pacific

Comment Posted By: Kay Lam-Beattie

The same sort of thing gets sent out with trade marks too. The crooks search the trade mark register for new applications, then send the applicants a thing that looks like an invoice, for ‘publication’ fees.

Especially when it arrives by post, from an Australian address, it catches people out.

Comment Posted By: Lisbeth Westra

We have also received this domain “scam” letter from Domain Renewal Group and luckily I thought it odd that the prices were all of a sudden much higher so I checked and found these posts. Thanks. Lisbeth

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