How To Spot a Domain Scam

In the past we’ve posted about the Domain Registry of America scam, and there are a few sites out there showcasing some of the other ones that are out there. One of my favorites is http://www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com/. Rather than continue posting about specific scams, we wanted to share some tips on how to spot them.

Know how your registrar communicates with you.

Most, if not all, of the major registrars will communicate primarily through email. If you receive a letter in the mail asking you to renew your domains, that should be a red flag. If you receive a cold call pressuring you for information, another red flag.

Know your registrar’s payment policies.

Since the majority of registrars do business online, you are most likely going to be paying with credit cards or some form of online payment like PayPal. If you are approached by a company (be it through mail, email, or phone) to pay via check, money order, wire transfer, or cash, that is a big indication that it is a scam.

You should also never give your credit card information over the phone, unless you are 100% certain of who you are dealing with. Giving this information out to the wrong party can cause all sorts of other complications for you.

Beware of fake appraisals.

Sometimes people will try to contact you, explaining that they wish to purchase your domain name after you use their recommended appraisal service. This is often times a scam where the party contacting you has no legitimate interest in purchasing your domain, and is only interested in receiving payment for your appraisal. In these situations, if the deal seems too good to be true..it probably is.

Always check where a link is actually pointing before clicking on it.

It is very common to see emails where the text of the link says one thing and it actually points to something else. You should also check for subtle differences in the URL (misspellings, alternative extensions, etc.).

Name.com will NEVER ask for your password.

We’re not sure what the policy is at other registrars, but at Name.com we will never ask for your password under any circumstances. There are tricky people out there that will try and pretend to be a support agent via chat or email, and they will ask for things like your password or account code to try and gain access to your account.

When in doubt, head to Google.

If you’re unsure about a company or a communication you received, try a Google search or two and see if anyone else has received the same thing. Chances are you’re not the only one.

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If you have anything else to add, please share in the comments. 🙂


Comments
Harvey Specter
Posted at 6:31 am November 20, 2010
Tim Kissane
Author

“at Name.com we will never ask for your password under any circumstances.”

I've had accounts at 2 hosting companies that ask for a password to verify identity. I've had long, tedious arguments trying to explain why this is insecure. One of them finally offers a user-generated support PIN as an alternative. But it bothers me that the support staff (and the gods know who else) still have access to my password. Kudos to Name.com for not committing this egregious security transgression.

Harvey Specter
Posted at 12:52 am November 21, 2010
TehZomB
Author

Very true, that's bad practice.
GoDaddy uses the support PIN method. I'm not a fan of them or their cold calls after you sign up, but apparently it works for them… I'm moving all my domains from them to name.com as soon as I can.