Domain Renewal Scams: Don’t Be Fooled!

Your domain name is the critical foundation of your online business, so it’s reasonable to be just a little paranoid about keeping it renewed. And there’s good reason for that:

  • Regions Bank, forgot to renew their domain name in 2013 and customers lost online access to their accounts for almost a week!
  • The Dallas Cowboys forgot to renew their domain in 2010 during a time when they fired their head coach.
  • Even Microsoft forgot to pay to renewal related to their Hotmail services on two separate occasions.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous domain registration companies take advantage of a legitimate concern and frequently send out fake or tricky domain renewal notices to unsuspecting businesses in the hope of getting the domain owner to switch registration companies at an inflated price. It’s sort of like of phone company ‘slamming’ from years ago, where shady providers got customers to switch to a new provider without their consent.

Here’s one common example. The truth of what’s going on is buried in the middle of official-sounding legalese. This is not a renewal from your domain registrar, web developer or host. It’s a tricky offer to get you to switch providers at a very high price (and potential loss of control of your domain). It’s not fraudulent, but it’s very, very sneaky. The main lesson here is to take the time to read the letter carefully:

fake domain renewal

So what can you do to protect your self and also ensure that your domain registration is always kept current?

  1. Know who you’re dealing with.  Know who is responsible for keeping your domain registration current, and deal directly with them. Many web developers and hosting companies maintain domains on behalf of their clients, and will ensure that your domain is always kept current. Always be sure your critical services are in the hands of a company you trust.
  2. Consider private registration. For a few dollars a year, you can have your domain registration details hidden by a proxy service. This will ensure that your name, email and physical address is not available in WHOIS records, which is where many of these scams originate.
  3. Renew your domain for multiple years. You can renew your domain for up to a decade. It’s an extra cost up front, but it means you won’t have to worry about domain registration renewals for many years to come.