Beware of Fake Domain Name Expiration Notices

Are These Expiration Letters a Scam?

Have you recently received a notice from a company you’ve never heard of notifying you that your domain name is expiring and urging you to renew it? These notices often get mistaken for bills and come from official-sounding names like Domain Registry of America, iDNS, Domain Name Services, etc.

Although these domain name notices look like bills, they are not. You should not pay them. These expiration notices are just (sleazy) attempts to get you to transfer your domain name registration to a different service provider, with an unreasonably higher markup.

In my opinion, they prey on business owners who have a website and a domain name but do not fully understand how domain name registration works.

This specific practice is known as domain slamming. The ICANNWiki has a perfect description:

“Domain slamming, or domain name slamming refers to the practice of sending fake renewal notices or bills to domain name registrants that are actually disguised service transfer notices. Responding to a fake renewal notice often results in a higher fee for the registrant’s domain name and an unauthorized transfer to a different registrar or service provider.”

While it is true that you should renew your domain every year, you do this through your current domain registrar. There is no need to transfer your domain name to a new registrar or service provider, especially when you’ll be paying way more than you should.

(If you are not sure who your current domain registrar is, you can look up your domain name at https://lookup.icann.org/. On the results page, scroll down to the “Registrar Information” heading to see the name of your domain registrar)

Here’s a domain name expiration notice letter that was just sent to Top Speed Marketing:

Fake domain name expiration notice

If you carefully read through the letter, there are instances in the paragraph stating “This notice is not a bill” and where the words ‘transfer’ and ‘switch’ are used. However, if you are unfamiliar with the domain name renewal process, or if you are skimming through the letter, you can easily mistake this as a bill that must be paid. In reality, it’s a solicitation to transfer your domain name to a new provider.

Best Practices to Secure Your Domain

Your domain name is a critical piece of your business; if you lose control of it, you lost a major business asset and a huge part of your online presence. For this reason, keep all of the records and invoices for your domain filed away so you can easily access them.

You will also have an online account with your domain registrar. Make sure you have this account login information saved somewhere and that you are receiving email notifications. This online account is used to renew your domain, update payment information, update contact information, etc.

Many domain registrars, such as NameCheap, will allow you to add backup payment methods. I strongly recommend you add one if possible. You don’t want to lose your domain name because you did not have a backup payment method and missed the billing reminders and renewal notices.

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