Scams are everywhere. Phone callers are asking for money. Emails are saying your data has been breached. The messages come in all shapes and sizes, and we all have to be on the lookout – especially as these scams become increasingly professional and hard to spot.
For example, have you received a letter from a Domain Registry of America scam or something similar? A lot of people have. In fact, frauds like this one are becoming the norm these days. The FTC received 2.8 million fraud reports in 2021 alone. These scams targeted adults, senior citizens, and even teens.
Fraud losses were up nearly 70% from the year before. So how do you protect yourself, and how do you avoid a website domain scam?
Ayokay is committed to helping you identify and prevent being swindled by unscrupulous people who prey on others. We’ve already heard some clients say they’ve received scam messages in the mail, and we want to make a few things clear.
What Are Domain Listing Scams?
Domain listing scams are becoming increasingly prevalent. The letter from the Domain Registry of America is just the latest example of an alarming trend that targets unsuspecting individuals and business owners.
The letter or email will typically tell you to act “now” and renew your domain. Do you recognize the company? Maybe not, but it sounds professional, right? You start to think that maybe it’s legitimate.
Stop right there.
If you own a website or a domain name, you need to be aware of these scams. You don’t want to lose either, and these messages are not legitimate.
The letters or emails are designed to get you to send scammers money and personal payment information, but also to switch your domain or hosting company. If you pay close attention, though, they don’t usually mention that they ARE your current hosting company.
That’s because they aren’t. These scams count on catching you off guard before you think about what you’re doing or notice something that’s off.
Another reason these domain scams are effective is that they look pretty official. They provide your domain name and a bill stating your domain is going to expire soon. This creates a sense of urgency and scares you into paying before you have time to think.
But how did they find you? How did they get your information? Most likely, they got your information from a website like WhoIs. These sites list domains and contact information that anyone can find. Since they have your information, it’s important to know how to spot and avoid website domain scams.
How to Spot and Avoid Domain Scams
1) Always read the fine print in any letter or email you receive.
You’ll probably see in tiny print that the “bill” you have in your hands is technically a solicitation. Also, pay close attention to any misspellings or other telltale signs that this is a scam. The message’s language can tell you a lot about its legitimacy.
2) Examine your invoices.
Make sure that all the information is actually correct, based on your legitimate hosting or website development bills. A big red flag is if the invoice wants you to pay for long-term extensions that aren’t needed.
3) Try calling the phone number on the bill.
This is an easy way to avoid a website domain scam. If there is a phone number provided, call it. You might get a disconnected number or someone who has no idea who you are or what you’re calling about. Hang up and throw away that bill.
4) Search for information online.
Look up the company asking you to renew your domain. Do they have a website? Is it up to date and has contact information? Search for the company online and see what people are saying. A surefire way to root out a scam is to use the power of Google (and the warnings of other would-be victims).
5) Look through your records, emails, and invoices.
Find out whom your domain is registered with and what your yearly fee is. In a lot of these scams, they’re not only trying to get you to move your domain, but they are charging you significantly more money to do so.
What to Do If You Got a Notice in the Mail
Many people think that website-related scams only occur on digital devices through email messages, but that’s not true. Many scammers are still using traditional mailing to prey on victims.
Never send any money or personal information to any company until you know they’re legitimate. If you’re suspicious, chances are you have a right to be.
If you think you have a potential scam on your hands, report it as soon as possible. You can report all scams and fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), It’s convenient to report by email or phone.
Another way to protect yourself and your website and domain is by investing in a domain privacy service. There are many services out there that will keep your information sheltered, which will help prevent other scammers from obtaining your data and using it to send illegitimate messages.
It’s important to know how to avoid website domain scams. Ayokay is your digital agency partner, and we want you to know how to spot and avoid attacks like the Domain Registry of America scam.
Knowledge is power. At Ayokay, we’re authorities on website security and can answer many of your questions about fraudulent schemes. We have made it our business to work closely with our customers to give them the best possible experience – and that includes helping to keep them safe.
We don’t want anyone to fall prey to these scam artists. Contact us with all your questions and one of our website experts will get back to you.
Jack Shepler is a Marketing and Search Engine Optimization expert. He founded Ayokay, award-winning marketing, and web design firm in Indianapolis, Indiana that has built brands, increased sales for businesses, and helped nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions since 2011. He uses his decades of experience to educate through the Ayokay blog and through public speaking. You can follow him on LinkedIn.