Domain Scam

I routinely get calls, texts, and emails from confused clients who have found themselves with a paper bill in the mail saying their domain is set to expire, and to please remit the payment so that it doesn’t lapse. It is a very legit looking bill. But it isn’t a bill. It’s a scam to get you to transfer your domain to their service for a lot more money than you probably currently pay for your domain. So let’s go over the scam. Here is a piece of mail one of our clients got in the mail.

Domain Scam Letter

It looks very official. It has a company name and logo, and says it’s a domain name company. It has your actual domain name listed and the domain’s expiration date. At the bottom is a remittance coupon with the amount of $225 for you to send to this company to “renew” your domain for five years.

It has scary language in it that says you must renew your domain before the expiration date and failure to do so will result in the loss of your website and online presence. OH NO, you don’t want that?

However, if you keep reading, it does eventually say in bold print that “This notice is not a bill” but a way to switch your domain to this company. They would probably argue with me over calling it a scam, because it does clearly state that this is not a bill.

It totally is a scam and I will die on this hill.

This company is sending you unsolicited snail mail with scary language that you may lose your domain if you don’t send in money for it. They make it look exactly like a real bill. They have your real information for your domain and the mail comes to your real address. They are intentionally trying to get you to send them payment and transfer your domain to them by calling it a renewal.

There are many different companies that run this scam. Or maybe there is just one parent company and they send out notices in a number of brands. I don’t know the details beyond what we see in the letters.

Here are some frequent names I’ve seen:

  • Domain Registry of America
  • iDNS
  • Simple Domain Host
  • Domain Listings

These all look a little different, but they all are basically the same concept. They tell you your domain needs to be renewed, they tell you how much, and give you a remittance envelope.

Don’t fall for this scam!

Here are some keys to tell it’s a scam:

  1. It comes via snail mail. Your digital products will almost never be renewed via physical mail, they will all come via email.
  2. It’s through a company name you don’t recognize.
  3. It says “This is not a bill” anywhere on it.
  4. It seems a lot more expensive than what you remember paying. Most domains are in the $10-$20 range, so when they send you a bill for hundreds of dollars, that’s a big red flag.

If you get one of these letters, throw it away. Do not send money. However, do login to your legit domain registrar, which may have been purchased through a company like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, NameCheap, or Bluehost, etc. and verify that your domain is set up to auto-renew and you have a valid credit card on file. I have seen people lose domains because their renewal couldn’t be processed due to expired credit cards.

Feel free to file a complain with ICANN.

Don’t fall for this scam, these people are predators that feed on trusting people who just want to do the right thing and pay their bills on time. Read the fine print, and then shred it, burn it, or throw it away.

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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