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November 10, 2020
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Domain name scams and how to spot them

Woman working at desk, with thought bubble showing differen domain name suffixes (.au, .hk, etc)

Barely a month goes by without a client contacting us about a domain name scam attempt they’ve received. Feeling not quite right about it, they call us to check. One client who contacted us was too late! They had already been tricked into paying 3 times the going rate for a domain name they didn’t need.

These domain scams usually take two different forms.

  1. A renewal notice or invoice-like letter from a supposed domain registrar demanding payment. The domain name on the renewal/invoice could be your exact domain or something similar (e.g.: yourbusiness.com instead of yourbusiness.com.au). They are banking on you overlooking this detail, not knowing who your domain registrar is, what domain(s) you own, and paying them anyway.
  2. An unsolicited email, call, or letter (yes, even snail mail!) offering to sell you a domain name ahead of someone else who has requested it. It is often something like your genuine domain name, but with a different domain suffix, like yourbusiness.com.hk. They stoke fear that competition in Asia wishes to trade from your good name and say that buying this domain will help prevent that.

Here’s an example of the (second) scam which came out of Hong Kong. But beware, it could come from any country. This organisation advises they have someone wishing to purchase the .cn or .hk (China or Hong Kong) version of a domain name you own. They say they want to check with you first to give you the first option of buying the domain ahead of that other buyer, “trying to steal” your corporate identity.

Here is part of their message:

We are a Network Solutions Organization, mainly dealing with domain name registration and internet intellectual property rights protection. On November 24, 2020 we received a formal application from a local company of your country who is applying to register some domain names with “mybusinessname” and also register the single word “mybusinessname” as their internet keyword.

After investigation, we find that you are the original user of this word. As this refers to your company name or trade mark and to avoid the confusion and dispute on the internet, we are responsible to inform you of it in no time according to our policy and would like to know your ideas. If you agree about this issue, we will finish the third company’s registration. If you don’t agree the third company’s registration, please inform me. I’m looking forward to your reply. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

While this example doesn’t offer the domain to you in this first correspondence if you contact them that will be the next step. When I visited this company’s website it presented what looked like a typical domain registrar website. Clicking around, however, revealed that most of the navigation went nowhere. It was just a shell.

While such people will say they are selling you Asian (or other) domain names if you part with your money you’ll end up with nothing in return.

How to safeguard yourself against domain name scams

Read your domain renewal invoice carefully before paying.

Know what domains you own and what you don’t. Ensure the records of your domain name(s) and domain registrar are up to date and easy to cross-reference when paying the bills. Then:

  • Check that it’s the same company you always deal with.
  • Check all the letters of your domain name and domain suffix (.com, .com.au) is correct.
  • Does the renewal price essentially match what you paid last time, allowing for any expected price increase, etc?

If any of these raise any red flags for you, phone your usual registrar to double-check.

Register your domain with someone you can trust

Technology Matters is an authorised reseller of domains under TPP Wholesale, an authorised auDA domain name registrar. When you purchase a domain through us, it gives you the added protection of knowing a real person who cares about their clients is watching over your domain. We won’t allow it to expire without warning (ever had that happen? goodbye website and emails) and provide you with personal service.

The domain name is owned by you, not us. You get your own username and password to log in and manage all aspects of your domain name. If you’d rather have us manage the registration and renewals for you, we will do so on your behalf.

Talk to us about managing your domain names, safely and with a personal touch.

Protect your business name by registering other domains

Protecting your business from scams is vital and so is protecting it from your actual, non-scam competition. Consider registering at least .com and .com.au domains. Pro tip: Not only can this protect your intellectual property from domain scams, but it can also help your customers. By redirecting .com to your .com.au website, you help your site visitors find you faster.

If there are any other domains you think might be worth securing so nobody else can snare them, give us a call and we can advise you on the smartest domain names to secure for your business. We will search for available domain names that help protect your brand and offer you a package of the domains of your choice. Then we manage the registration and ongoing renewals.

.au domains coming soon

.au domains will be released in mid-2021. They are likely to be in hot demand. If you already have the .com.au you have the first option to obtain the .au that matches your .com.au domain name.

Got a scam? Report it.

Did you get scammed or did they try to scam you?
You can report domain name scams to Consumer Affairs Victoria here.

Naomi Nicholls
Naomi Nicholls
Naomi's focus is turning your words and ideas into a website design that looks good and works hard for your business.

1 Comment

  1. Saayed Khan says:

    Naomi, great information for new business person, Domain name is most important tips in online marketing.

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