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Beware Domain Registration scams

Beware of invoices that come in the mail (or by email) for renewal of your domain registration. Hijack domain registrarYou should always know who your domain is registered with and roughly when it may be due for registration. You can expect to receive a notice around 90 days before with reminders 60 days, 30 days and counting down, depending on who your registrar is.

If, like me, you own multiple domain names, then I recommend you stick with one, or two (at the most) registrars and transfer any other domains you have over so that you don’t have them populated everywhere. Very hard to keep track of them all. And keep the domains locked as well, so you are notified if any changes or updates are made to the domain. If you have someone who assists you with your domains and websites, then add them as your tech contact, but you should be listed as the owner and the person to bill, at the very least.

The picture above is of an invoice I received this morning. Straight away two things were evident. The name of the registrar and the cost of renewal. I don’t have any of my domains registered with this company and I certainly do not pay that amount (for those not in the know, it is a much higher fee than normally paid for domain registrations). Closer inspection shows that the domain in the letter is a variation of my domain and is for a net.au which I wouldn’t be eligible for, as I’m not running a network or organisation. And being an Australian domain it would need my ABN number as well. What hurts about this is that these scammers are local. It appears there’s no way of making an official complaint against them unless you have paid these people.

If you do not know who your domain(s) is/are registered with, then you can do a WHOIS search. There are many services online for this. I often use whois.net but you can use others. It should give you information similar to this (which is public information):

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain Name: DANDENONGRANGESPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Registrar: WILD WEST DOMAINS, LLC
Whois Server: whois.wildwestdomains.com
Referral URL: http://www.wildwestdomains.com
Name Server: NS1.ACS-WEBHOSTING.COM
Name Server: NS2.ACS-WEBHOSTING.COM
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientRenewProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 08-aug-2014
Creation Date: 09-aug-2011
Expiration Date: 09-aug-2015

Note the registrar, in this case is Wild West Domains (which I’m a reseller of at www.acsdomainservices.com). I’ve also got the domain locked, hence the status mentioned.

Protect your domain name. It is an important part of your real estate online and has monetary value. The more value you place on your presence online and your website, the more valuable your domain name is. After all, it’s part of your branding and is just as important as your business name registration.

Finally, make sure you always keep your contact details updated with with your registrar. Provide another email address that isn’t connected to your domain, just to make sure you can receive notices other than via the domain address. And make sure they have your postal address and phone number too.

If you have any queries, feel free to contact me.  Alternatively you can read the warning by AuDA relating to the same group that I received the invoice from.

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