Don’t fall for this domain scam

I pretty regularly get emails from clients who say they have received a bill for their domain name in the mail and are confused because registered it with a different company than the letter. The letter comes from a very official sounding company called iDNS or Internet Domain Name Services.

Each time I tell them to throw it away and disregard. But on Saturday, I received this letter. I'm sure I have had it before, but I thought I'd share it here so people know what it is and what to do with it.

So here's what happens. If you own a domain and your have your registration public, you might someday get a letter from this company. Here's my letter:

So you get this letter in the mail and it looks totally legit, right? It has a bill, and your domain really is about to expire. Without thinking, you write a check and send it in.

But wait, you didn't register your domain with this company. You registered it somewhere else, like GoDaddy or or Network Solutions. So why is iDNS sending you a paper bill?

Because it is a scam.

This is a company that sends out renewal notices for domains that are registered somewhere else in hopes that you don't notice, fill out the form, and send payment. Once you do, they will transfer your domain to their service instead. They are trying to trick you into moving your domain to their registrar by sending you an "invoice" for your domain that is expiring. They are counting on you not paying close enough attention, not remembering where you registered your domain, and just sending a check without realizing what you just agreed to.

If you aren't reading it closely enough, you might miss this part:

Yes, it does say this is not a bill. And it is in bold, but it's buried at the bottom of the second paragraph.

There's more fine print below too:

See, right there, it says "Transfer and renew" your domain, so they aren't technically lying to you about what they are doing. If you read it, and understand about domain names and domain renewals, then you know this isn't real.

But the truth is they are intentionally misleading you by sending you an invoice. They are counting on you not remembering where you registered your domain. They are relying on you to be confused about this and afraid of losing your domain. They are hoping you just fill it out and submit payment without realizing that means moving your domain to another company.

This is intentionally misleading and fraudulent.

What should you do if you get this letter?

Throw it away. Shred it. Use it for kindling. Don't respond.

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