Domain Registry of America and Domain Slamming
If you have ever registered a domain name of your own, you may have received an alarming letter or ‘bill’ alerting you that your domain name is about to expire, and giving you an ‘easy way’ to renew it. The letters look legit at first glance. But checking with your host will usually indicate your domain is fine and does not need an urgent renewal. Even if it does, you can do so through your registrar for the normal price.
So what gives?
Is this a scam? How did they get that info, and is this even legal?
The answers are a little nebulous, like so many scams. We’ll shed some light on just what is going on here.
Domain Registry of America (among other names) is a borderline-legal scam designed to convince you to switch your web hosting for inflated prices. The company itself generally has a post office box in the United States, but seems to have other addresses in other countries and is presumed to come from abroad. This makes the legality more difficult.
Your postal address and information is obtained from “WHOIS,” a public database of registered domain names. The letter is not actually a bill, but carefully written document designed to persuade the domain owner to switch domain hosting to their company at highly inflated prices.
What to do?
If you receive one of these notices, the best thing to do is just ignore it. But let’s go into some detail on how you can be SURE you are not going to lose your domain name.
1) Know the name of your registrar. The registrar may or may not be the same as your web host, but know who your domain is registered through. If you get notices from anyone other than your registrar, you can generally dismiss and ignore them. As a note, your domain name and host may not expire at the same time.
2) Know when your domain name expires. This can save you the potential loss of a domain name and all the trouble that comes with that, and it can also spare you quite a bit of anxiety, wondering when the expiration date is going to happen. Some companies will email you to let you know, but it’s good to remember this anyway.
3) Put your domain name on autorenewal if at all possible. You can’t just do this and forget it – credit cards expire as well, and it’s good to check up on things, but if your domain is set to autorenewal it’s less likely to slip past you.
What happens if you lose your domain name?
Other than purchasing it back for generally much higher costs, there are not a lot of options after losing a domain name, beyond getting a new one, changing your business card and information everywhere, and making up for lost emails. The single best option is to educate yourself, not fall for the scams, to keep track of your own domain name renewal so as not to risk losing it to begin with.
Don’t let Domain Registry of America alarm you. This and many other scams are out to make a dollar (or many). Education is key. When you know what you’re reading, you know what you can ignore. And for more information on various scams, visit us here at Appletree MediaWorks.