Domain Renewal Scam – Warning

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

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