Beware of Domain Registration Scams
If you ever get an official looking domain registration expiration notice, or invoice in the mail that looks like a bill, read it carefully to make sure it's from your real domain registrar because there are dishonest companies specifically designed to trick you into switching registrars and at an exorbitant rate.
How to Detrmine the True Registrar for your Domain
To determine if this is the actual registrar for your website's domain check your records. If you don't know who the registrar is for your domain then check this whois site that lists the owners and registrars of domains (input your domain name in the "whois" slot and look for ICANN Registrar). Print this page out and keep it in a safe place because you'll want to keep track of the domain renewal date and keep it current or you can loose your domain.
How to Tell if a Domain Registration Notice is a Scam?
Read it carefully. There will usually be one or more lines that say something about "switching" or "changing" or "transfering" your domain to their registration service. These words are VERY important because your TRUE domain registrar will only let you know the domain is due and where to pay it and not intend to change anything.
Dishonest domain registration companies usually send these notices out several months before your domain is actually due hoping they contact you before your REAL registrar sends a reminder notice. The rest of the letter usually lets you know the date your domain will be due and warns you repeatedly about letting your domain lapse.
If you hire office help then make sure they don't pay for the domain registration bill unless they check the actual registrar as this is how a lot of these dishonest domain registration scams get their business which results in your domain being transferred to another registrar.
How to Prevent being Scammed?
Check your domain registrar to make sure they send you a notice when your domain is coming due and delete notices from all other sources. Some registrars don't send out renewal notices at all and leave it up to yourself to check renewal dates. Then there are other hosts who use a registration service that sends out renewal notices months in advance, like Westhost, who uses Enom as their registrar. I've never had a client hosted on Westhost loose their domain.
What to Do about this Scam
If you believe you have been contacted to renew a domain and it's a scam then call your registrar to let them know what happened. If you or someone else already paid for the domain call your bank or credit card company and have the payment stopped or reversed. Better to pay a fee to stop payment than deal with a crooked registrar.
Exorbitant Renewal Fee Increases
These dishonest domain registration scams usually double the domain registration fee also (for the same reason as mentioned above) because office help may not know that the price should be much lower than what is being charged.
Phone and E-mail Scams
These same companies also try the same scam by phone and email. Don't give them any information if they call. Hang up or don't reply. Your domain is safe with your registrar unless you specifically sign a statement that you wanted your domain transferred yourself.
For information on stolen domains see what to do if your web designer steals your domain name.
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