Domain names are generally bought by business owners and private users in order to have a brandable website over which they have a greater level of control than if they had used a free solution.
There are a large number of domain name extensions, such as .com, .net, .org, .info, etc, that can be chosen.
Most domain name purchasers will elect to go for the .com version of the name they have chosen and will have no need to spend additional funds on securing any of the alternatives.
For that reason, it is possible that an individual or business could register a domain name that is ‘theiruniquename.com’ and then find that someone has subsequently registered ‘theiruniquename.us’ or any of the other possible variations.
For some businesses this may be a concern, especially if they are unable to then acquire those similar domain names via the anti-cybersquatting laws.
Domain name scammers utilise this concern, as well as the fact that many people can be a little ignorant of the procedures involved in domain name registrations and renewals.
There are 3 main types of domain name scams –
DOMAIN NAME SCAM #1 – SCARE TACTICS
In this first scam you would be contacted by a domain name registrar, either by telephone or via email, who will tell you that they are aware of another company who are about to buy all the available variations of your domain name that you don’t already own.
The reality, of course, is that this is simply not true – if someone wanted to register a domain name then they would probably have done so already because the process only takes a couple of minutes.
There is no ‘pre-registration notice’ or anything even vaguely similar so if a company tells you otherwise you shouldn’t believe it.
If you were to express any kind of interest in what the bogus company were saying then they would likely pressurise you some more, explaining that they need to take your credit card details there and then in order to complete the registration process as quickly as possible.
If you pay then you may be lucky enough to actually get the domain names in question but you would probably have paid more than you needed to, not to mention the fact that you likely didn’t need the domains in the first place.
They will, in all probability register the names, but you will have been charged way over the odds for domains that you neither needed, wanted nor were in any danger of being registered by some other company.
DOMAIN NAME SCAM #2 – THE FAKE DOMAIN NAME REGISTRAR
Traditionally, this scam was operated via the postal system but I now also receive variants on a regular basis via email these days.
What happens in this scam is that you will receive what appears to be an official-looking renewal notice from someone who will be trying to make out that they are the registrar that you used for the original registration of your domain.
As you may have guessed, they are not who they say they and are, in fact, a rival company who will transfer your domain to themselves if you allow them to.
Once they have your domain they then have the freedom to charge you pretty well whatever they want from then onwards.
DOMAIN NAME SCAM #3 – DOMAIN NAME PHISHING
Another common domain name scam that has cropped up in the last couple of years is delivered via email.
The email will have been spoofed so that it looks like it came from one of the more popular registrars. (You may well have received these from registrars you don’t use as the scammer sends them out randomly, knowing some will land in the inboxes of people who will believe them.)
The email will say something about a problem with your account and will claim that you need to log in to update your details, much like all those phishing messages you get from ‘banks’ and the like.
If you should you click the link in the email and then enter your details you will lose that account to the scammer who may then sell your domain if it has value, or blackmail you for it’s return.
HOW TO AVOID DOMAIN NAME SCAMS
Probably the most important thing to remember, even if all else fails, is to never give your credit card details over the phone unless you are certain of who you are dealing with as this can lead to a whole host of further complications beyond the initial scam.
Remember that you are in control of the situation – if you need to verify details, check a company out or simply need time to think then do not allow yourself to be pressurised into doing anything that you don’t want to.
If someone phones you and tells you that names are available and you actually would like to buy them then take their number, hang up and then check their availability and cheapest price online.
If you receive a letter in the post, or an email, that isn’t from your own domain name registrar then do not even respond to it.
If you are unsure of anything surrounding your domain name, or have any other questions, then contact your own registrar through a verifiable contact method and be very wary of taking advice from strangers.