Domain Name System scams to be aware of

By Mike Forrest, Owner/CEO at Archmore Business Web

Scams related to your website or domain name
can come mail or email

My clients regularly send me information regarding brazen attempts at getting them to pay for services they do not need, they already have or that do not exist. These scams come in different types. Some attempt to sell services you do not need by scaring you about the expiration of your website or domain name. Others attempt to sell you additional services to what you already have. Most people not involved in website development are unfamiliar with the registration and certification process.

Services you do not need:

You may get an official-looking document that includes a bill and payment stub for something called DNS backup services. In this case, they are trying to sell you a backup for something you already have. It is similar to paying for insurance for your savings account at the bank in case the bank goes out of business. The account is already insured by the FDIC for up to $240,000. (Please see the DNS sample document)

DNS sample docment

Website listing services:

Another type of scam asks you to pay for ‘enhancement’ listings for your business. Reading this closely you can determine that for $228 your website or business will be listed on their website. The only problem with this is that their website is all but invisible on the web. These questionable services come in different forms. Sometimes you will get an email that will ensure you first page Google listing for $XXX per month. Unless you are very familiar, you should not engage these mail order services because you will not be able to determine if you are getting any benefit or not.

web listing service

Domain Name Protection

The next type of scam is a bit more involved. This scam targets business owners who are unfamiliar with the domain name registration procedure (almost everyone). You get an email from someone in China or another registrar overseas. They imply someone wants to take out a similar sounding website address as yours and you need to protect your brand. Eventually, you are asked to purchase many more domain names at inflated prices. Here is how this starts. This is an actual email (misspellings and grammatical errors included):

sample scam letter

Your best protection from these types of website address scams is to consult the builder of your website or someone familiar with your domain name.

Another type of scam is to tell you that your domain name (the address of your website) is expiring and you have to renew it to continue to retain exclusive rights to this name on the web. This is all true. They get this information from public information available on the web. The next part of the ‘scam’ is to tell you that you can pay them (payment stub is attached) to renew it. What you do not always realize is that you are transferring your domain name to their Registrar and are paying several times the going rate to renew your domain name. A sample letter is below. In this case, you are asked to renew the domain name for 1 – 5 years at a rate of $45 per year. The going rate varies but is usually $10 - $15 and some registrars will give you one year free if you transfer your domain to them.

sample DNS expiration notice