Don't get duped by the Domain Registry Scams:
How to avoid Web domain scams.
Domain name scams are as old as, well, domain names, but there’s one in particular that, like the proverbial cockroach, just won’t seem to die. A company calling themselves Domain Registry, the Domain Registry of America (also known as Domain Service of America) continues to send out misleading letters, confusing unprepared website owners and convincing them to switch domain name registrars. In doing so, the customer’s annual fees typically take quite a jump – sometimes as much as three to five times the original cost. As a web marketing provider, we encounter the issue regularly, so we thought we’d address it and hopefully help stop these hucksters from cheating their way to more money.
The Domain Registry [of America] is one such scam company, but there are many more all under different names. Domain Listings is another. These are scam-domain registry services but do not own or control your domain. The letters they send are expertly crafted to fool website owners. The top heading reads “Domain Name Expiration Notice,” as can be seen pictured below. Nowhere do they explicitly state that they are your current domain name registrar, but if you don’t know whom your self-storage business’s domain name is registered with, you might not know how the domain registration process works and assume you need to pay. The Domain Registry of America informs their targets (“customers” is surely not the right word here) that their domain name is about to expire, and this is probably true. But they make sure to sneak in before your actual domain name registrar contacts you about renewal.
So far in 2022, we have already seen a barrage of these domain scam companies, Domain Listings (left) is one predator company targeting Advanced Creative Group Clients. Be on the lookout and notify us immediately if you are targeted.
The scam companies like Domain Registry get customer’s information from easily accessible “whois” databases, which include a collection of contact information for registered domain owners. Some domain registrars will offer “whois privacy” by using their own contact information instead of yours, but not everyone is aware of this or takes full advantage of it. Then, the Domain Registry of America simply look up names and addresses and send out their letters to try to scam people.
Between the American flag, the urgent deadline (“Reply Requested By”), and the prominent pricing information, it’s no wonder people are easily conned. Everything looks so official!
Ratings and Reviews
It should come as no surprise that the Domain Registry of America was given an F rating by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It should come as no surprise that the Domain Registry of America received hundreds of complaints from consumers, causing them to lose accreditation with BBB altogether. Prior to losing accreditation, their rating was a solid F.
And it’s not just consumers that have expressed their disdain. The Domain Registry of America has been sued multiple times by legitimate registry sites (like Register.com and GoDaddy.com) for illegally tricking their customers into switching. They’ve also been hit with a civil action by the Federal Trade Commission. Somehow, through all of this, they’ve marched on and continue to mislead people into purchasing their overpriced services to this day.
Once you’ve paid, there’s not much that can be done. The Domain Registry of America states that “payment, once received, is non-refundable.” But what you can do is arm yourself with knowledge beforehand to prevent being taken advantage of. If you’re reading this post, you probably won’t have to worry about the Domain Registry of America anymore. Go ahead and throw any mail from them right into the trash can. Unfortunately, they’re not the only scammers out there.
This kind of trickery is not exclusive to the domain name industry. Whatever the product or service, these kinds of online frauds can be stopped with an attentive eye and a quick Google search before ever giving over your credit card or checking account information. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid falling victim to online scammers:
Look for formatting changes to your bill.
Check your schedule to see if the new statement has come at an unusual time.
Talk to your website provider before making any major or unfamiliar payments.
Check previous records to make sure it’s the same provider and the same pricing.
If working online, make sure the URL is the same and that the website itself hasn’t changed. (This can happen with fake social media sites that want to grab some of your personal information.)
Our #1 advice for fighting back against scammers like this? Stay organized, and understand whom you’re paying and what you’re paying for before starting an online transaction. 98% of our customers rely on us (Advanced Creative Group) to purchase and maintain their domain names for them. We bill our customers yearly at 1/3rd the cost and keep you online without any surprises!
We encourage you to keep detailed records for your website. Always know whom you’re paying for domain services when your last payment was made, and the amount you owe. Domains are usually registered and renewed once a year (and many registrars offer plans of three or even five years), so you won’t see that bill very often. It’s easy to forget about it. Set some guidelines to ensure you won’t make any fraudulent payments.
If you receive a letter like this one or with similar alarm regarding your website, call or email us immediately and we will gladly take the reigns to provide you with the professional advice and quick action to keep you safe from internet scams.