7 Domain Scams You Should Watch Out ForPosted: November 12, 2011
In a previous article, we discussed a number of past issues in the domain industry, a couple of which centered around scams. Unfortunately many scams are still around today, and if you own a domain or are buying one, you may be targeted by one.
What domain scams should you watch out for?
1. Domain theft (via multiple ways)
Most people don’t realize how valuable their accounts with registrars might be. Your account being compromised is all it takes to lose your valuable assets. Take as much precaution as you would with a bank account – use passwords and questions/hints that are complex and can’t simply be guessed.
If you are selling a domain through PayPal or another method that can be reversed, you can run into theft issues as well. A thief may use a compromised PayPal account to pay you, and in many cases you would have no recourse after the domain is in their possession. For transactions of significant amount, you should use escrow or at least a payment method like a bank wire that can’t be reversed.
Lastly, a compromised email address can allow the thief backdoor access into your domain account. They can reset the password in your domain account, which gets emailed to you, and then can transfer your domains to themselves at will.
2. Money theft by scamming domain sellers
Scams in domain transactions can go both ways unfortunately. Buyers using payments that can’t be reversed are at risk for outright theft of their payment. Escrow is always recommendable for any transaction but especially if you don’t know the seller well or if the transaction is big enough.
3. Domain appraisal scams
One of the oldest scams relating to domains is the appraisal scam. A supposed buyer may contact you offering to buy your domain. If you accept their offer or show interest in selling, they indicate they need you to get an appraisal on the domain. They usually link to a fake forum thread where a particular appraisal company is championed. It’s all a setup to get you to get an appraisal with that company.
In general, the only reason you may need to get a paid appraisal is for asset reasons relating to transferring domains to your own new company. Paid appraisals are not worth getting to evaluate domains. Any buyer who would demand an appraisal could just as easily buy it themselves (and some legitimate buyers do). Simply put, don’t get an appraisal because someone asks you to.
4. Fake renewal scams
This scam preys on people that pay little attention to their domains. The domain owner gets an email or physical mail indicating their domain is expiring and they should renew it. The email/mail urges them to renew at a ridiculous price ($35+/year). One problem – the domain isn’t registered there.
You can always look up the whois record on the domain to see where it is registered, or search your email for the domain. It is important to make sure you stay on top of your registration, but avoid these attempts by other companies to gouge you.
5. Fake “search listing” scams
Similar to fake renewal scams, you may receive an email or physical mail saying the search listing on your domain is expiring. It will say your domain is in jeopardy of not being visible by search engines unless you “renew” the listing. In reality, you never bought any “listing” with the company and they’re trying to scam you into buying one.
6. Backorder scams
You’ll receive an email indicating a domain similar to yours is for sale with a link to buy it. It unfortunately may seem like a legit opportunity to buy the domain. In reality the domain is expiring and the company is getting you to pay for a backorder.
Usually a legitimate sales email would simply tell you the domain and pushing for an offer or giving its price. A sales email would generally not link you to a place to buy the domain.
The truth is that if a domain is expiring that you would like to get, you should backorder it. The main 3 places to backorder are SnapNames, Pool and NameJet – other places have very little chance of catching the domain if it is backordered at one of those 3 sites.
7. Scam to block your trademark registration in .cn
You the domain owner receive an email that says someone is registering your domain in .cn and .com.cn. It says through them, you have the ability to block their registration. It’s merely a ploy to get you to register those extensions through them.
This has been widespread but seems to have died down. I did receive one of these emails as recently as a couple months ago. If you’re not doing significant business in China, you do not need the .cn or .com.cn of your domain. Even if you did, there are many legitimate places to register them.
With domains being intangible assets and domain business being done primarily online, scams have always been around. Once you know of them, it’s much easier to avoid them, but always be cautious of any new scams that come about.