A few days ago, Qamba IT registered a new .com domain name for a project. Following this, we received an email notice telling us to register the new domain listing with the “Domain Name search engine”, or it would be difficult for our target demographic to locate us on the web.
Have you registered a domain name before, or are you planning to in the future? If so, this is a type of letter you can expect to receive via mail or email, and it’s something you need to beware of.
Domain registration scams have been around for a while. It isn’t particularly clever, but it is one of the most common scams that can rip you off or steal your information and something that many business owners easily fall victim to. The key is staying informed and knowing what the scams are, and learning how they work.
How the Scam Works
When you register your domain name, you automatically make your personal information, including name, email and address, available publicly unless you add the private registration add-on.
Scammers use various tools to scrape these details off the internet, giving them precisely what they need to send you a mail or an email with a link where you can register your domain. That link will turn out to be a fake webpage, and once you enter your financial information, they will then be able to use those for fraudulent transactions.
Another thing they do is send a fake invoice asking you to pay for the renewal of your domain or run the risk of losing it. The trick here is their use of labels such as “Domain Name Expiration Notice”, “Website Listings Services”, or “Final Notice of Domain Listing” to make it seem like an actual notice.
Usually, they’re charging more than double the amount you need to pay when using legitimate domain registration services. There are also hidden fees on top of what’s stated in their main computation most of the time.
How to Spot a Domain Registration Scam
Verify the sender
Do you know the organisation the sender represents? If not, then this tells you that this might be one of the scammers that have scraped your information off the internet. Ignore and tag the email as a scam.
Check for contact numbers
If the sender is claiming to be from a company where you registered your domain, reach out to them to verify the legitimacy of such email using contact details from trusted sources. Never use the contact details included in the email.
Perform web search
Search the internet to check if the company has any documented scam reports and see what people say about them and their services. You can also head on to the Better Business Bureau to see whether complaints are filed against the company.
Does the bill make sense?
Ask yourself whether the amount on the invoice is reasonable. Check how much reliable domain registration websites offer and if the amount stated on the invoice is higher than normal that is a red flag. Also, it’s good to know that reputable domain sites send invoices via email, not snail mail.
Note the language
Does it have odd titles that don’t quite make sense? That is a clear indicator that you have just received a scam email. One good example of this is “Website Listing Service”.
There is no such service: only Domain Registration and Website Hosting. “Domain Name Expiration” is another red flag. You will know that this is fake if you see where you listed your domain, and it’s not mentioned anywhere in the letter.
Another thing that you need to watch out for is if the email tells you that it is not a bill but a solicitation of services. The scammers use actual digital terms in the hopes of tricking you into paying for things that are not essential services.
Essential Information about your Domain
A typical .com or .com.au domain costs anywhere from $15 to $30 a year. Anything too low or too high is suspicious and can be a scam. Just make sure to choose a reliable and well-known domain registrar that can protect the ownership of your domain.
This keeps your website active and can cost about $15 per month for affordable hosting options, but can reach up to $50 per month for premium hosting.
As a business and domain owner, it is essential that you are aware of the only two mandatory costs you need to pay to keep your website alive and active. Also, you should know where your domain is registered and where your website is hosted. Keep track of the domain name’s purchase date because you should only receive a renewal reminder just before the first purchase anniversary.
Remember that any email regarding domain registration and website hosting that are not from your original service providers is spam unless proven otherwise. If you need help registering and hosting your website, or if you think you’ve become a victim of any online fraud or scam, don’t hesitate to contact us.