Watch Out for Scam Domain Bills in the Mail
Know your registrar, don’t get duped!
The issue of the "domain register" scam continues to rear its ugly head.
You may get a letter or an email telling you that your domain is about to expire and if you fail to renew it your website will stop working. The language is designed to create a sense of urgency so that you pay right away to avoid having an interruption in your website service.
Is it true that your website won't work if the domain expires? Yes. Is paying this bill going to prevent that? No. These scammers make it sound like they have control of your domain name, but what they are trying to do is have you transfer your domain name to them at a higher than average cost, so you are locked in to paying them every year.
Another scam that starts the same way is about having your domain name on a registry list, kind of like a phone book listing for the internet; that is also bogus.
Recently we have been hearing from our customers that they are receiving bills in the paper mail and by email to renew their domain name, and whether they should pay it. A couple told us they already had, and so we shouldn't bill them for it. Very likely, if you paid one of those bills, you were scammed, and may not ever see that money again.
If you are a Montague WebWorks customer, *we* are probably your domain name registrar, and so we should be the only one sending you a bill regarding your domain name. If you are one of the few MWW customers that held on to your own domain name, you would get a bill lfrom someone like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Web.com, or 1&1.com.
In this article we will go over the six scams we know of. The companies we've discovered so far, are:
- Domain Service
- Domain Registry
- Simple Domain
- "Act Immediately" - Domain Service Expiration Notice
- Domain Listings, which is a bogus listing company, purporting to improve your searchability on the web.
Make no mistake... THESE ARE ALL SCAMS. DO NOT PAY THEIR BILLS
All they want to do is get money from people who aren't paying attention, knowing that some people just write checks against any bill they receive, thinking they're safe from scammers.
Let's go through them one at a time, and review what their invoices look like.
Posted: to WebWorks News on Mon, Apr 12, 2021
Updated: Mon, Apr 12, 2021
iDNS - Internet Domain Name Services
Also sometimes known as "Domain Registry" with an American flag logo, and with the title "Domain Name Expiration Notice" at the top of their notices, these people want you to transfer your domain name to them so they're your registrar. Unfortunately, they charge $45 or $50 per year, three times what other registrars charge, and getting your domain name back from them will be difficult. And, in fact, their notice lists the incorrect date of your domain name's renewal date, often off by months.
DO NOT PAY THIS NOTICE
Here is the text of the notice:
As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification of the domain name registration that is due to expire in the next few months. When you switch today to Internet Domain Name Services, you can take advantage of our best savings. Your registration for ______ will expire on [incorrect date]. Act today!
You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web, and now is the time to transfer and renew your name from your current Registrar to Internet Domain name Services. Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web.
Privitization of Domain Registrations and Renewals now allows the consumer the choice of Registrars when initially registering and also when renewing a domain name. Domain name holders are not obligated to renew their domain name with their current Registrar or with Internet Domain name Services. Review our prices and decide for yourself. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to switch your domain name registration to Internet Domain Name Services.
Domain Service Expiration Notice
This notice arrives by email and so far has appeared in two forms: one with PAY ATTENTION - DOMAIN SERVICE EXPIRATION NOTICE at the top in all-caps white text on read header; and another that says ACT IMMEDIATELY - FINAL EXTENSION, also white text on a red background header.
Both versions of this email scam include hyped-up text like "Final Extension" and "LAST OVERDUE NOTICE FOR DOMAIN" and a green button that links to their "Secure Online Payment", followed by "PAYMENT OVERDUE!"
Clicking that link will likely cost you money. They are not your registrar, and, unlike other scammers who send you a paper bill in the mail with text indicating you don't need to pay this solicitation or notice buried in the copy, these people are purporting to be your registrar and urgently telling you to click and pay them.
JUST SAY NO and delete that email!
Simple Domain Host
"Simple Domain Host" is a company that purportedly will host your website for you if you pay them $180. Doing a search on them, we found that there are 48 complaints so far at the Better Business Bureau, and other websites have posted similar warnings.
You can read the full text of their "solicitation", below.
Simple Domain Host 7306 Hwy 21 Ste #314 Port Wentworth, GA 31407
For Inquiries Call 1-845-335-7112 Monday - Friday www.simpledomainhost.com
[_] CHECK HERE IF YOUR ADDRESS HAS CHANGED. PLEASE PROVIDE UPDATED INFORMATION ON REVERSE SIDE.
Please make checks payable to: Sample Domain Host
- Please make Checks payable to Simple Domain Host
- To pay with a credit card or to avoid receiving paper invoices in the future please sign up for paperless billing at www.simpledomainhost.com
- Hosting your website with us will ensure your website remains active, that you retain exclusive rights to it on the Web, and now the time to transfer your web hosting from your current provider to Simple Domain Host. Failure to renew your web hosting by the expiration date may resort in website outages and a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers to reach you on the Web.
- Privatizettion of web hosting and renewals allows the customer the choice of web hosting providers when initially establishing a website and also when renewing webhosting. Web hosting customers are not obligated to renew their web hosting with their current provider or with Simple Domain Host. We would like you to renew your web hosting with Simple Domain Host. There are no contracts and you are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated herewithin. THIS IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE ORDER OF GOODS OR SERVICES, OR BOTH, AND NOT A BILL, INVOICE OR STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT DUE. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to renew your web hosting with Simple Domain Host.
Domain Listings -- Website Listing Service
Similarly, there are several "Internet Listing" companies out there that, for $200 or more, will "list" your website on theirs... as if that is some sort of magic bullet.
For instance, this company, shown on the right, wants to charge you $228 per year to be listed on their website, http://domain-listings.org, which forwards to the website http://domainlistings.directory.
Not only is this website NOT SECURE (no https://) but they don't even display your full contact info or any content, nor do they add an inbound-link to your website, all of which are essential to SEO value.
Here's their page for Greenfield and Sunderland.
Notice how everyone's business is showing up as in Bristol, Rapid City? Huh?!?
This company is taking your money and giving zero value.
If you want to be listed on "listing" websites like this, you can check to see if you're already on one or both of these sites:
There are clearly more business listing sites out there, like Yelp, etc., but many of them charge a fee, or will call you incessantly to get you to upgrade.
Certainly make sure you're in Google's MyBusiness database, and make sure you set up a Facebook page with a link pointing back to your website.
Web Listings Inc -- Website Listing Service
Not to be pinned to just one company name, Domain Listing Service is now also trying to get your money through a new name, Web Listings, Inc. with an invoice titled "Website Listing Service RENEWAL NOTICE"
You can clearly see the invoice is very similar to Domain Listings, but now they call the service ANNUAL WEBSITE SEARCH ENGINE LISTING
The want to charge you $85 for adding your website to their website.
Well, if you go to their website www.web-listings.net you'll get a danger alert that the SSL is not working. Always a bad sign.
Again, if you ever get a bill from an Internet company referring to your domain name, please look closer, and check your records to ensure these people actually hold your domain name, or are a valid vendor.
Windows Advance Security v10.21.4
And, then there's these guys. Not a domain name scam, but a scam nevertheless. And, gotta say, very cleverly written. It does look real, but the language on it had that tinge of "not a native speaker" to it.
"The Windows Account Team" says I renewed my two-year subscription to "Windows Advance Security v10.21.4" to the tune of $332.81. Obviously that didn't happen, and so an unsuspecting customer might call the phone number, only to fall into their trap by submitting a credit card number or something to verify and "cancel." BEWARE
Here's the full text of the invoice:
|Hi [your name],|
|Cheers for completing 2 years of your subscription with us!|
|Customers like you are the foundation of our business. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and the confidence you have placed in us.|
|Please make sure to keep this invoice in your records to avoid any discrepancy in future.|
|Invoice Details:||Software Description:|
Invoice No: APM1904215901
Renewal Date: 04/19/2021
Expiration Date: 04/18/2023
Username: [your name]
Email: [your email address]
Title: Windows Advance Security v10.21.4
Subscription: 2 Years
Total Amount: $332.81
|Thank you for your payment!|
|This invoice was automatically generated as per your device settings and the transaction might take a few hours to reflect on your card/bank account records.|
|If you have any queries concerning the invoice, call us at: +1 615-442-7761|
The Windows Account Team
Stay Ever Vigilant
If you have any questions about bills you receive from any company regarding your domain name or any "listings" from any company other than us or maybe Google, please call Mik before you do anything.
That's what you pay us for.