Fake Website Domain Bills Arriving at Your Home?
Domain Listing Invoice and Billing Scams and Where to Put Them
Have you ever received letters in your home mailbox that claim to be from a domain company telling you it’s time to renew? If so, this is the article for you!
These letters are bogus! I get inquiries about these from concerned clients all the time and I even receive them myself. Here are a few things to know.
4 Ways to Spot a Domain Billing Scam
1. IT’S NOT FROM THE COMPANY WHERE YOU PURCHASED YOUR DOMAIN.
If you registered and paid for your domain at Godaddy, Siteground, Bluehost, NameCheap, or any of the many other legitimate registrars, they will NEVER send you a snail mail letter. Any communication from them, specifically about renewing your domain, will come in an email.
2. IT EMPHASIZES A SENSE OF URGENCY.
They use statements like “Act Today” or “Domain Name Expiration Notice.” You may also see words like “due to expire,”you must renew your domain name” and “please remit payment.” All things that sound official and urgent. When you are afraid is when you are not thinking clearly. Slow down and read the letter all the way through – even the small print.
3. THE RENEWAL PRICE IS WAY HIGHER THAN YOU PAID BEFORE.
Their “renewal” pricing can be anywhere from $50 to $300. Except in rare cases, a single domain shouldn’t cost more than $20 annually – usually less.
4. BY LAW THEY HAVE TO TELL YOU THIS IS NOT A BILL.
When you read the letter word for word, you will come across something that says “This is not a bill.” They do everything possible to make it look like one, but in fact it isn’t. It’s meant to trick you into thinking they are the people you are supposed to pay to keep your domain. They are not!
Things That Make Fake Domain Bills Look Legit
You may think that because they have your domain(s) listed in the letter, they have the correct expiration date and perhaps even the name of your actual registrar, that this letter must be real. In actuality, this information is made public by default when you purchase your domain. Anyone can look it up.
Examples of the Types of Domain Billing Scams You May Receive
These are just two examples that I have received recently. I’ll start with the one from Domain Registry because they seem to be one of the biggest offenders.
#1 It’s not from your original registrar. It’s from Domain Registry which is a particularly insidious offender.
#2 Note the urgency, and the language “Renewal Information.” Seems important, right?
#1 Again, not the name of your registrar. Also the use of the American flag to make it feel safe and official.
#2 Urgency that your domain is going to expire.
#3 They mention your domain information.
#4 They list other potential domains you may want to purchase.
#5 Again listing your actual domain and expiration date. Note the high prices!
Also read the content underlined in red and in the red box. What they say is true, but it’s twisted. Indeed “you must renew your domain name to retain exclusive right to it on the Web.” Just not through them. The text in the following paragraph is just manipulative, and then notice buried in there it says “This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to SWITCH YOUR DOMAIN name registration to Domain Registry.” Oh that’s the bad part!! After you pay this “not bill” they will try to move your domain under their control. This means you are now beholden to them for their outrageous prices and guess what? There’s NO customer service to fix it.
Now here’s another that’s a bit of a twist. It’s from “United States Domain Authority” (sounds important, right). They even put the American flag on there to make it official (rolling my eyes). This letter presents even more detailed, but still available to the public, information about my domain. They list my correct registrar and hosting servers. They describe their service as a “Website Domain Listing” which could be construed as a domain registrar. And it looks like an urgent bill. But in fact they want you to buy their “marketing service” to list your domain. Ugh. Sounds like it might be something good, but no.
#1 Not the name of your original registrar.
#2 They have all the correct information there. But remember this is all available to the public.
#3 Urgent language: “Deadline: Upon Receipt.”
#4 The reality of the service they provide: you get a listing on their worthless website.
#5 And they also use the American flag to make it look official and safe.
All of this threatening and worthless service for a mere $289! They do have the CYA (cover your a$$) text lower in the page, but many people don’t read into all those details. Hey this stuff works; if it didn’t they would be working on some other way to scam us!
This is page 2 of the same “United States Domain Authority” letter.
#1 Their name and the flag again to remind you they are “official.”
#2 Lot’s of info on how to make payment. I don’t see this much payment instruction on my gas bill!
#3 Repeating urgency: “Deadline: Upon Receipt.”
#4 Scam dollar amount again.
#5 More urgency by giving you a return-by date.
Boy this stuff really chaps my hide! It takes the jelly out of my donut! It burns my biscuits!! You get the point.
Hopefully this article will help you discern illegitimate mail whether it be in your mail box at your house or in your email (same rules apply). Oh, and to address the second part of this article title, “… and Where You Should Put Them” – in the shredder! Then go get a cup of tea and relax!
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