During these lean economic times, unscrupulous individuals will undoubtedly be exploiting the opportunities available on the internet to make money. Domain names scams are one such opportunity; consequently, it is worthwhile to review the characteristics of some of these scams and the measures that can be taken to avoid them. Fake renewal notices for domain names are a common scam. The goal of this scam is to cause the registrant of a domain name to switch registrars. This is done by sending the registrant an official-looking document claiming to be from the internet registrar used by the recipient or an agency of the Government of Canada. Once the registrant sends the payment information needed to renew the registration, the scam artist will then transfer the domain from the registrant’s current domain name registrar to its own registrar. Typically, the fees for the renewal and subsequent renewals will be higher than those charged by the incumbent registrar. Another common scam occurs where a registrar sends to a domain name registrant a notice stating that the registrant’s domain name, or a similar name, is proposed to be registered by an undisclosed person under another generic top-level domain. The notice will encourage the registrant to immediately register her domain with that registrar. This occurs frequently with the newer domains “.asia”, “.cn” and “.biz”. If the registrant takes the bait, she could be spending money on a registration that is unnecessary.

There are several things you can do to avoid these traps:

  1. Keep track of your registrations and the identities of your registrars. Instead of seeking out several registrars, use just one or two that you know are reputable.
  2. Even though your registrar will contact you when the renewal comes up and even if you subscribe to your registrar’s tracking systems, keep an internal record of when your domain name registrations need to be renewed. Log into your calendar containing this information on a regular basis.
  3. When you receive a renewal notice for a domain name registration, make it a practice to check with the registrar that you have used in the past for that domain name.
  4. Have a plan for your domain name registrations. Know which top level domains are important to your operations and proactively register your domain name(s) in each, rather than responding to unsolicited notices alleging the existence of a potential cyber squatter.
  5.  Lock your domain. This security feature is available from some registrars. This will require you to unlock your domain prior to changing your registration.