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Domain renewal scams

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Tuesday August 14, 2007 )

Received an email or snail mail item from your registrar regarding your domain name renewal? – watch that it’s not a scam.

A colleague forwarded me a notification today that his domain name was supposedly up for renewal and that he should click a link in order to renew it. The problem is, the company that notified him wasn’t the registrar he uses.

The email came from a Belgium based mob called (appropriately) Domain Renewal SA. The note read:

“Your domain name X will expire within 90 days. You may renew your domain automatically with Domain Renewal. Click on the link in this e-mail to renew the domain for another year. You should renew your domain as soon as possible in order for it to continue to be registered in your name.”

Clicking on the link takes you to a form asking for your credit card details – the price: an incredibly expensive 79.95 USD. At first I thought it was the old transfer bait and switch trick, where what happens is the renewal is actually a transfer order that transfers your name to a (higher-priced) registrar; but on closer inspection of their site, I found this:

“Domain Renewal offer you as a third party to renew your domain direct at your ISP/ internet service provider with our automatic renewal system/ DRS to avoid domain loss due to mishandling of expire date.”

So basically, they offer to supposedly keep track of your domains and renew them on your behalf as they fall due. People taking up on the offer could be paying as much as $70 per domain for the “service”.

From what I’ve read around the web, this company appears to be particularly dubious and it could possibly be just a phishing scam. Even if it weren’t, the price is outrageous and I suspect they don’t have the “expertise” they state.

“We operate with a grate number of partners all over the world and therefore have access to the grate competence and technical knowledge with in Internet”

… umm.. ok. I don’t think I need to comment further on that aspect.

Having not gone through the process, I’m not sure how they renew the domain on your behalf without access to your domain account; but I certainly wouldn’t be confident in giving them access to any of mine.

Anyhow, today’s incident was just a good reminder that iffy domain name “renewal” schemes are still rife. If you get a notice that your domain is up for renewal, check carefully that:

a) The company that has sent it is indeed your registrar

b) Go straight to the registrars site and renew from there rather than follow a link in an email

c) Check the expiry date on your domain name to see if it is up for renewal and if you can’t remember who the registrar was, what the company’s name was. You can do this using a free WHOIS service such as Domain Tools

c) If something appears fishy, contact your registrar for clarification


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