Scam Alert! Watch out for domain renewal letters and emails

Posted by Jon Haslett on 02 March, 2015 in Domain Registration

It’s a sad and disturbing truth of the internet that scams are rife. Even more disturbing is the fact most scams are becoming sophisticated enough to look genuine, making them difficult to spot. Pesky scammers will try just about anything to get your money, and in a recent bout of evil, they’ve been busy targeting the owners of website domains.

Who is affected by this scam?

If you have ever registered a website address or ‘domain name’ then you could be a potential victim. We’ve had several clients recently contact us concerned or confused about domain renewal emails and letters (yes, actual posted letters) they have received from companies. Unfortunately, scam companies can easily get these personal details from minimal research and by using the WHOIS database – a worldwide database that holds information on web address owners.

What companies are the culprits?

We’re currently aware of three primary scam companies; the ‘Domain Registry of America’ (DROA), ‘Domain Name Group’ and ‘Domain Register’. However, there are undoubtedly others and domain renewal scams are by no means a new thing. They’ve been around for well over a decade and new scam companies can pop up at any time. It’s always worth being vigilant and doing your homework when any company asks you to part with money, no matter how ‘genuine’ they may look.

Scam Alert! Watch out for domain renewal letters and emails
Example letter from Domain Registry of America.

What are the warning signs?

Domain name renewal scams often follow one of two methods. In one method, web address owners are sent an invoice for a domain name that is very similar, but not identical, to their current web address (for example www.dashmedia.org.au instead of www.dashmedia.com.au). With this approach, scammers hope you simply won’t notice the difference and pay the invoice.

The second method involves the scam company sending you an email or letter that appears to be a renewal notice for your actual web address. However, the company will be different from the company you have registered your domain with, and will often ask for a small fortune to renew your domain (usually $250+).

To ensure you don’t fall victim to these scams, look for these common warning signs:

  • A letter or email that appears to be an invoice for domain name renewal.
  • The website address on the invoice is similar to your own website address, but not identical.
  • The letter or email coming from a company you are unfamiliar with and haven’t registered a domain with.*

*TIP: If you’ve forgotten who you’ve registered with (we’ve all done it) then you can check by typing your web address into the WHOIS database and scrolling down until you see information under the heading ‘Registrar’.

What do you do if you suspect you’re being scammed?

Because scammers are becoming more intelligent at hiding the fact they are scamming, it’s wise to keep your wits about you and ask for advice if you have even the smallest suspicion you might be a victim.

Our support team loathes the scam artists of the world and will be happy to help you identify if you’re being scammed. Simply send an email to [email protected] and we’ll get back to you with help and advice.

We also recommend reporting any suspected internet scam to the ACCC scam watch website. Reporting scams helps the government crackdown on scam companies and reduces the chance of others becoming a victim.

Hopefully, you’ll be safe and won’t have been affected, but don’t panic, because we’re always here to help if you suspect you have!