Domain Name Scams and What to Do About Them

Have you received an unexpected notice that your business website’s domain name is in danger of expiring? Careful—it may be a scam.

Domain name scams have been around for a while, and despite being widely recognized at this point, website owners continue to fall for them. Here’s how they work: You receive an official-sounding email or letter from an unfamiliar company that says your domain name is about to expire and you need to renew or your site will go offline. The company recommends that you switch to their service for extra assurance and claims to offer the “best value” available.

Naturally, website downtime is an alarming prospect for any business owner, which is why these notices are so effective at grabbing one’s attention. However, before you start to worry, there’s one thing you should do: look at the name of the forwarding company. Do you recognize it? If not, you have nothing to worry about. Whoever your domain name is registered with, whether GoDaddy, FatCow or DreamHost, they’re the only company that should be contacting you about renewal. For that matter, they’re the only company with the power to shut off the lights at your website. If the notice isn’t from them, it’s a scam.

These domain name scams are no different than the other phone and computer scams that are widely employed today—they operate using scare tactics but pose no actual threat. The idea is to startle unsuspecting website owners into switching their domain names over to them. What’s more, these companies often charge two to three times more than legitimate domain name registrars for the same service. You shouldn’t pay much more than $15 per year for domain renewal, so don’t be duped by disingenuous claims of “best value.”

The bottom line: If you get a domain expiration notice from a company you’ve never heard of, throw it away. The best way to deal with most scams is to simply not engage, and domain name scams are no different. They pose absolutely no threat, so don’t waste your time or concern on them.

Want to learn more about managing your business website? Read our other blog posts.

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