Recognizing Domain Slamming

Your website doesn’t have a name.

It’s just a bunch of files which make up the structure of your website. Domain names are web addresses used to communicate on the Internet. Once you register an available domain name, you can use it as your website address or as an email address.  Your domain name must be pointed to where your website files are “hosted” so that when someone types it into a browser, your website results. Your domain name is your most important asset. Once you own it, no one else can. That is, unless you don’t renew it, release it or they offer to purchase it from you, in which case you can name your price. The incredibly popular domain Insurance.com sold for $35.6 million in 2010.

Domains mean business!

Domains can be purchased from popular registrars like GoDaddy and Network Solutions.  The latter is where “TheFacebook.com” was originally purchased in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg.  Since then, Facebook had to purchase “Facebook.com” and “fb.com”.  Facebook reportedly forked over $200,000 in August 2005 to acquire the domain “Facebook.com” from the About Face Corporation when they decided to lose the word “the” at the suggestion of Napster founder Sean Parker, and another $8.5 Million in 2010 to acquire “fb.com” from the American Farm Bureau Federation. Rest assured, domain names are serious business so it’s no wonder why domain slamming is on the rise.

What is Domain Slamming?

Domain slamming is a scam in which the offending domain name registrar attempts to trick you into switching from your existing registrar to theirs, under the pretense that you are renewing with your current register.  They attempt to mislead you by sending emails and even snail mail.  You may see them come from companies calling themselves Internet Domain Name Services or Domain Registration Services.  They threaten by using words like failure, lose and cancellation.  This is done to intimidate you into sending a check or clicking on a payment link.  Below are two examples of actual letters and emails received by our clients.  If you read the above spam letters you will see that they actually state that they do not register or renew domain names, but “sell” traffic generator software tools.  Of course it’s small and almost greyed out.

An example domain slamming letter from a scammer that you may receive around the time that your domain may be renewing.

An example domain slamming letter from a scammer that you may receive around the time that your domain may be renewing.  They are asking for 3 times the price this client pays with GoDaddy.

The same domain slamming scam sent as an email.

The same domain slamming scam sent as an email.  This time, they ask for over 4 times the normal renewal cost.

 

Be the master of your domain.

How can you avoid this mess?  The best thing for you to know as a website owner is where your domain name is registered.  Once you know that, know that any correspondence about your domain name will come from the company with whom you registered your name.  Your registrar will NEVER email your forms to download or fax…ever.  Avoid corresponding with these scammers and immediately trash their emails and letters.

Also note that when you first purchase and register your domain, you will be asked to enter multiple contacts.  You will need to designate a Registrant, Admin, and Tech contact.  They can be all the same person or you can designate different contacts for each role.  Our advice is to enter the domain owner as the Registrant, an office manager or spouse as the Admin and your web developer as Tech contact.  That way, all three people will receive authentic notifications from the registrar and all can be advised should a real issue arise.

If you think you may have fallen victim to this scam and paid them money, there are actions you can take if you respond in a timely manner.   Call your bank or credit card company ASAP to stop the payment or begin a charge dispute so that you can request a charge-back.  Be prepared to send them a copy of the email or letter you received.  You can also provide them a link to this article (and/or any of the other legitimate articles that expose these scams).  Finally, don’t forget to contact the company you originally registered your domain with and explain the situation to let them know that you have been scammed and that you are trying to take the proper steps to save your domain name.  As long as you can prove ownership of the domain, you should be able to save your domain name from getting into the scammer’s hands.

Sources
Wikipedia: Domain name scams
SD Professionals: Domain Services Scam

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