by Karen Kleinman
Your website and its domain are an important part of your business. Keeping up with renewing your domain name can be easily forgotten in your day to day busy schedule, and some folks out there are trying to take advantage of that.
We recently had one of our clients reach out to us, because they received a letter in the mail that warned them of the immediate necessity of renewing their domain name. The letter they received looked “official”, had the correct name and address, and the domain information – including when it expired. However, the company that sent this urgent reminder was in fact not their domain registrar. It was a registrar that was trying to get our client to switch to them and purchase services.
But why is this bad? It’s a free country, and the last time people looked, it was also a free enterprise economy. More business choices equals better service or cheaper prices… right?
Not when the company is riding on the assumption that you don’t keep up with who when your domain expires, who your domain registrar is, how much they charge per year, or that you don’t read the entirety of the letter. Many of these companies will send official looking & sound letters to unsuspecting domain owners in hopes that they will just fill out the info and enclose a credit card number.
Once this is done, the registrar takes control of your domain, often inflating the renewal pricing and charging service fees for things such look-a-like domain names, listing services, or SEO services which are listed in the fine print of the letter you received.
So, how do you avoid these types of scams?
1. Set a reminder when your domain is set to expire, who your domain registrar is, and how much it will cost to renew. 2. Read closely any correspondence you get from a suspected registrar, most renewal information will usually come in an email that you used to create your registrar account with – not through the postal service. 3. Set your domains in your registrar account to locked, and if you’re sure you want to keep your domain after a year, set it to auto renew.
So how do these shady registrars get my info in the first place?
A WHOIS search can be performed to find out who the registrar of your domain is, when it was 1 st registered, the last time it was updated, and when it expires. It can also provide your name and contact information. This WHOIS search is public, so anyone can view this information. Registrars can hide this info for a fee, if you want to take the extra precaution of not having your contact info displayed to the world. Hiding this information will also keep people from soliciting you for their “professional web services” and other spam.
You can see what information is public about your domain by filling in your domain at this link: https://www.whois.com/whois/