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An official looking letter comes in the mail from an internet domain registration company. It urges you to renew or switch your domain over to their services before it expires, telling you to take advantage of their best value offer before it’s too late.
Guess what: it’s a scam. How do we know? We get them ourselves. And we also know how to debunk their claims. AND we’ll tell you how to do it too!
We recently received this notice from Internet Domain Name Services, or iDNS:
You’ll see the “best value” they’re offering is actually way more then what you’re probably paying currently. Depending on the domain name, costs usually don’t exceed $30 for two years.
The notice from iDNS asks for $45 for just one year and $80 for two.
We debunk their claim of “expiring soon” with a quick search on whois.icann.org. The search results will let you see your domain and registrar information, including your registrant, admin and tech contacts, important dates, even server names. Yes, I said important dates, like the day your domain is set to expire. Yup, it’s public record unless you pay to keep it private. See below outlined in yellow, that’s the money spot.
According to this tool, the domain listed on the iDNS notice above shows an expiration of 2019, not 2017.
So yep, it’s a scam.
iDNS is one of many predatory scammers sending fake letters lying to domain holders about their contracts expiring. They recognize people aren’t all too into details, therefore they purposefully make the notice look like a bill rather than a letter by selecting formats and headers that mimic legit invoices.
Not to mention most business owners aren’t putting their domain name registration details at the forefront of their minds and often (and easily) forget who their registrar is. iDNS preys on this knowledge, sending notices to businesses urging immediate action be taken. Unfortunately many businesses will go ahead and send in the money with the intention of saving themselves trouble in the long-term only to find they were just plain robbed.
If you receive a suspicious letter, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you don’t become a victim of this popular scam:
An easy solution is to just throw the letter away. However, if you need to verify it’s a scam for your own peace of mind, you can tell by taking steps 2 through 4 below to tell whether or not you are being scammed.
WHOIS is the free search tool we mentioned earlier in our post that allows people to see information related to their domains. Check who your domain is registered with (listed under Registrar) and when the domain license expires. If it’s a scam, you’ll likely see your domain isn’t set to expire on the date featured on the domain name notice you received.
Hosting providers are companies making their living on the web, so it makes sense that their preferred mode of communication is through the Internet. Receiving a letter rather than an email should automatically raise a red flag. If in doubt, you can always contact your domain service and ask them.
You know the feeling: the offer just seems a little too good to be true, and they’ve told you one too many times you need to act NOW.
Legitimate businesses don’t generally resort to scare tactics, that totally went out with the First Red Scare in 1920. If your domain is going to expire, your registrar will contact you in advance, sans threats and unrealistic offers.
Congrats on triumphing over the scammers! Pat yourself on the back and continue paying your standard domain fees. When it comes time to renew, look up the rates your domain service charges and compare them with other providers (the legit ones, that is). Whether you decide to renew is up to you, just remember a reputable company won’t pressure you into into paying an immediate and bloated price. It’s no skin off their back if you don’t renew. Though, like most of us, they are in business to make a profit. So if you choose not to renew your domain, they’ll just sell it to someone else after it expires.
Still not sure? Contact the experts for a second opinion.