Your company’s domain name (example: www.yourcompan.com) is used to help people go to your website. Domain names generally need to be renewed every year, unless you have chosen to renew for multiple years through your domain name registrar. Popular domain name registrars include GoDaddy, Network Solutions, and others. So why might you be getting invoices from companies you’ve never done business with, or never even heard of?
Here’s an example of one we were emailed recently:
Example of a domain renewal scam email letter
In recent years, domain renewal scams have been on the rise. These scams usually work in a couple different ways: 1) You might receive an invoice through email or postal mail for a domain that is very close to your domain (but spelled slightly different), in which case they’re hoping you don’t notice the difference, and submit payment, or 2) You might receive a letter that looks like an official renewal notice for your actual domain, but it’s coming from a different company than the one you used to register your domain.
UPDATE: Here’s an example of a domain renewal letter that came via snail mail:
Here’s an example of a physical letter that was mailed to our office. (Click to enlarge)
Protect Yourself From Domain Renewal Scams
So how can a small business owner protect themselves from domain renewal scams? Here are some tips to help you.
Look for these warning signs:
- You get a letter which appears to be an invoice for the registration or renewal of a domain name from a company that is unfamiliar to you.
- The domain name in the invoice may be similar to your domain, but can have a different extension. For example, if your site is www.yourbusiness.com, the invoice may be for www.yourbusiness.net or www.yourbusiness.info.
- The letter comes from a company you’ve never done business with, even though it has your exact domain name listed.
- The renewal fees are generally two to three times more expensive than what most registrars charge- it pays to shop around.
Other ways to protect yourself:
- Check the website address/ URL very carefully. A scammer will often set up a fake site with a similar domain.
- Attempt to keep the number of people authorized to pay orders or invoices for your company to a minimum.
- Always double check that the billing address is the one you normally deal with.
- Read the small print carefully! The terms & conditions of the offer may make claims of free or really cheap renewal rates that often have hidden costs.
If you’re satisfied with your current domain name registrar, you can just ignore these notices altogether. If you are looking for a more cost-effective alternative to your current provider, be sure you read the fine print and understand the full cost of their domain renewal rates. Always check the terms and conditions before making the switch.