Your domain name is a valuable and vital part of your company’s brand as it identifies, organizes, and promotes your business through all digital mediums. In 2010, Facebook paid about $8.5 million just to acquire www.fb.com from another organization, demonstrating the potential value company domain names can have. As a result of its real and potential value, it is important to keep your company’s domain name registration up to date and protect it from domain name scammers. Vigilance and caution are crucial when it comes to reviewing any offers for services, especially as scammers become ever more adept at intimidation and manipulation.
Where to Find Official Information about Your Domain Name Registration
Because of its importance to your company, make sure that your domain name is registered properly with a respected and reasonably-priced domain name registrar such as GoDaddy.com, HostGator.com eHost.com, iPage.com, or many others. If you need to confirm who your registrar is, you can look up your website’s registration information with the help of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This non-profit organization is responsible for guidance on the sale, supply, and protection of domain names and actively works to prevent fraudulent and unethical activities in this area. Using their WHOIS Lookup data service will enable you to quickly find the relevant information about your company’s domain name. For additional useful information go to https://whois.icann.org .
Most Common Domain Scams
Domain name scams occur in a few variations designed to trick the domain name owner and benefit the scammer. Domain slamming, which has been around the longest, is used effectively by unethical domain name registrars to exploit unsuspecting recipients. These unscrupulous companies send out invoice-like notices either by email or in the mail asking you to renew your domain name registration. Usually these communications include urgent statements about the time for renewal running out and dire warnings about what will happen if you do not act immediately. These messages are often sent out by official sounding organizations like the “Domain Registry of America”, which falsely reassures the targeted individual that the request is a legitimate bill from their current registration company or from another trustworthy registrar. All too often the recipient doesn’t look closely at the official-looking notice and simply takes care of the bill, not realizing that they are actually paying to register their domain name with a completely different company. In addition, the prices for their services are much higher than what they would pay with honest domain registrars.
Website Listing Services
Another common domain name scam of 2017 involves a similar invoice-type document requesting payment for “Website Listing Services.” One company called Domain Listings has sent out a form listing impressive sounding services such as “domain name submissions to the leading search engines and social media sites.” It also promises that the domain name will be “listed” for 12-months on high-traffic websites. However, experts say that these services are basically worthless or can easily be done by the domain name owner independently. In some cases, these efforts may actually do more harm than good for the website as it could lead to the loss of your company’s domain name and result in your website being down for a time. Such a situation can have serious financial consequences for your business. More likely these companies will do nothing more than collect a hefty payment for a useless service.
Chinese Domain Name Scam
The latest and more insidious type of domain name scam, however, involves emails sent out primarily by Chinese domain registration service companies. These emails warn the recipient that another company is attempting to register multiple domain names that contain the recipient company’s name or trademark information. The messages describe the situation as urgent and strongly recommend that the domain name owner quickly register multiple similar domain names to protect their trademark or brand. The messages usually also stress that their organization has blocked these competitive registration efforts temporarily, but they need prompt action from the recipient to halt this process. These scammers hope that the domain name owner will fall victim to the fear of losing their brand identity or trademark information to a competitor and purchase some or all of the new domain names. In addition to winning business through false pretenses, these companies charge prices that are usually far above the standard rates offered by reputable registrars.
Simple Steps to Take to Avoid Domain Name Scams
Here are some simple steps companies and individuals can take to counter these domain name scams:
- Note exactly when your company’s domain names will expire and which company is your registrar. If you have multiple domain names with different registrars, transfer all of them to a single registrar for easier monitoring and bill payment.
- List three different employees under your ICANN WHOIS registration for Registrant Contact, Admin Contact, and Tech Contact. In this way, all three contacts will receive official reminders of when your domain name registration is scheduled to expire.
- Only renew your domain name registration through the company where it was originally purchased. Never use any intermediaries. Renewing your domain name far in advance or for longer periods will help you avoid receiving unwanted registration renewal notices.
- Use the domain locking feature from your registrar: most registrars provide an optional domain lock feature that prevents your domain name from being re-registered anywhere else without express permission from your company.
- Never share personal or sensitive information with any unknown or suspicious companies or individuals.
- Your company’s leadership team needs to remind employees frequently to be aware of new scams and to ensure that all staff are trained on proper internet and email protocol. One example of proper behavior that should always be followed: never click on links or open attachments from any unknown or suspicious sources.
- Your company’s leadership team needs to announce the latest scams they learn about with accurate descriptions and warnings. They must also provide clear instructions on how employees can avoid falling victim to these scams. They must also encourage all staff to share any new scamming attempts they encounter to help educate and protect the entire company.
When in Doubt, Contact Your IT Support team
As a leading provider of IT Support in the greater DC area, Network Depot has encountered all types of determined efforts to exploit our clients, and we realize the importance of knowing how to best protect against the latest methods used by scammers. We will always make sure to keep your business briefed on and protected from the latest scams, so that your company can keep its focus on its core mission.
This article was written by Network Depot’s Marketing Director, Chris Sylvester.
For assistance with domain name scams and any other IT-related issues, please contact us here at Network Depot.