Part of running a website is ensuring your domain name remains current and updated to avoid your website not being accessible by your customers. As a hosting company part of our offering is to register and renew domain names for our clients. From our years of experience we have prevented more than a handful of clients falling victim to domain scams from third party businesses. These scams are becoming more sophisticated, and harder to distinguish as non legitimate. Below we list 4 examples of domain renewal scams we’ve come across. If you receive any of these do not pay, contact your actual domain registrar or reseller for all renewals.
1. Domain Register (domainregister.com.au)
This is a scam from Domain Register Pty Ltd (ACN: 127 506 807), who send what appears to be an invoice for a domain renewal. This invoice is generally for a domain which is similar to your existing one, eg if you own example.com.au, they've sent you an invoice for example.net.au.
They hide the following in the fineprint:
The text is "This is an invitation to register, disregard this letter if you are not the proprietor or if you do not wish to register.", which is in very small grey text on a grey background. The cost of registering the domain is far higher than nearly every registrar in Australia, meaning you will end up paying significantly more for a domain that you don't need. Of course, if you wish to register this domain you can do so through your reseller or registrar for a fraction of the price.
2. Domain Name Group (domainnamegroup.com.au)
Here’s another example of a domain scam, this time coming from Domain Name Group Pty Ltd (ACN: 135 462 305). The details of this company, including the wording of the invoice are identical to the one above. These scams trick website owners into thinking they are paying for their domain to be renewed when in fact your not and will be paying up to 400% more than normal renewals.
3. Domain Renewal Group
This is one of the most complained about domain scams. The Domain Renewal Group sources your details from domain registrars and produces a renewal notice. The renewal notice is sent out in hard copy (i.e. not an email) and looks like a renewal form (below). This scam uses your actual registered domain and attempts to trick you into migrating to their services from your current registrar. This company isn't the current registrar of your domain and they're relying on the letter to look deceptively like it is. Do not pay this, their business relies on deceiving people into transferring their domain name without reading the fine print.
4. Hongkong IP Network Ltd
This scam is has been around for awhile. The wording differs but the general theme is the same. An email is received making claims that a company is about to register a domain name matching or very similar to a domain name you already own, but within the Asian domain name space (.cn China, .hk Hong Kong, etc). If you reply, they will offer you the opportunity to buy the domains to prevent it being purchased by anyone else, often at very inflated prices.
If ever in doubt don’t pay, call your original registrar or reseller and talk to someone directly about your renewal policy and the procedure. If you’ve had any experience with domain scam renewals please let us know.