The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Domain Name Registry Scams

For as many ways as there are to make money in business, there are equally as many ways for someone to try and scam you out of that money. The majority of scams out there involve small amounts of money, easily missed in the short term.

Domain Name Registration Scams

domain registration scamsOne of the more insidious scams out there involves your domain name registration. Perhaps you’ve gotten a notice in the mail that your domain name is up for renewal. The information on the notice is accurate – your domain name, the expiration date of your registration – but the notice isn’t from your domain registrar. The name at the top of the notice is listed as Domain Registry of America, complete with an American flag as part of the logo. Very patriotic. Well, you reason, companies are bought and sold and merged all the time, maybe that’s the case here. So you pay the amount listed on the notice and go on with your life.

Congratulations, you have just been scammed.

Of the myriad details you have to keep track of as a business owner, a little thing like domain name registration should be simple and straightforward.

Pay the renewal as it comes due and keep your website up and running.

But if you receive a renewal notice from a company other than the one registering your domain name, it benefits you to do a little investigation.

Read the entire notice.

In the example above, Domain Registry of America (DROA) isn’t actually seeking to renew your domain name – they are seeking permission to transfer your domain name to their registry.  If you read the entire notice, it plainly states this. DROA is counting on you to merely skim the notice for relevant information (accuracy in domain name spelling, cost) and send them your money, effectively authorizing them to transfer your domain.  And to add insult to injury, the cost for this is roughly double what you’ve been paying your current registrar. But since it’s a small amount, usually $30, it’s easy to ignore.

A little further investigation reveals a telling fact: DROA’s flag-waving logo and Buffalo, New York address belies that the company is actually based in Ontario, Canada. Domain Registry of America? Hardly. And if you’re so inclined to do a little more digging around, you’ll discover that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has leveled a judgment against DROA for this very practice. DROA’s response was to alter the verbiage of their notice letters, but to essentially continue business as usual. Obviously, this isn’t a company with whom you want to do business.

How do you avoid a domain name registration scam like this?

If Lieberman Technologies manages your domain name, you don’t even have to worry about it. We protect your domain name from scammers and manage renewals, and we stay abreast of current trends in scams. Want to know more? Call me, Jeff Brown, at 812.434.6648 or send me an email at Jeff.Brown@LTnow.com and I’ll answer any questions you may have about domain name registry.

For more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s judgment against DROA, go to:  http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/12/domainreg.shtm