If you’re like me, and you have several domain names under your control, or if you’re (also like me) just a bit vague about dates, then you may not be all that sure when your website domain is due to be renewed.
An example of a domain is vitreus-art.co.uk – the domain for my stained glass website www.vitreus-art.co.uk.
Sadly, there’s a scam out there that exploits this, and I wanted to bring it to you so you won’t get suckered.
Companies with names that usually include the words ‘domain’, ‘renewal’, ‘services’ etc are sending letters (yes, you remember – on paper) to domain registrants advising them that their domains are due for renewal, and requesting payment (usually by cheque).
The letter is laid out like an invoice, and is written to suggest that the company is authorised to carry out domain transfers and renewals.
To encourage you to act and not ask questions, the letter is worded to convey a sense of urgency – your domain will expire, making it available for one of your competitors to use, and your children will be possessed by the devil, etc etc.
The data on who a domain belongs to is public, although non-corporate domain registrants can opt to have some of their personal details left invisible. This public data shows when a domain is due for renewal, so it’s easy to check on yours (or someone else’s).
So what happens if you get worried that your domain is about to expire and send off a cheque in a panic?
Nothing – except they bank your cheque! They’re not authorised to renew or transfer your domain – that’s done by the registrar – who will contact you before the domain expires anyway.
What should you do if you receive a letter like this?
Firstly – check your domain using a domain tools provider like Demon (link here) to see if your domain is indeed about to expire. If it’s not, then throw the letter away and certainly don’t respond to it.
But do tell your web-savvy friends in case they get a letter too…
Secondly, if it is about to expire, contact your domain hosting company or the registrar for the domain shown on the WHOIS record and follow their renewal process. If you use a third party for your web services, get them to do this.
Thirdly, do not pass on your domain EPP key – used to transfer a domain – if you have it.
And don’t be pressurised into requesting it from your current domain registrar and then forwarding it!
Despite the threats usually contained in these letters, there’s a grace period when a domain actually does officially expire allowing you to re-register the domain, and you’ll get several weeks notice from your registrar in which to act before that.
And if you do want to transfer a domain for good reasons, do it through the current registrar.
So, please, watch out for this scam and make sure you’re in control of your web presence.
If you need help with this sort of stuff, or if you’re not online yet, do get in touch!
Happy online marketing!