Misleading Domain Name Renewal Offers

Misleading Domain Name Renewal Offers


The following information can apply to several different companies who use the ploy of sending what appear to be bills for Domain Name renewals in order to take your business away from your existing registrar and charge your more than you need to pay for the service. A recent question from a client prompted me to include this information on my blog:

Q: “I recently received a domain name expiration notice from something called the Domain Renewal Group.  They want me to send them $30 to renew my domain name for a year and to transfer my name to their group.  To me, this sounds like a scam, but I wanted to know what you know about this, if it is legit, and if I need to take some action. “

A: Technically it’s not a scam. However, it is somewhat dubious. It’s known as “slamming”. They notify you that your domain name is expiring soon and you risk losing it. Their intent is to mislead you into switching your domain registration to them.

First of all changing your registration to one of these companies will cost you more. Godaddy’s current prices for domain registration of .com domain names are around $10. Switching to another company to pay $30 per year is not really frugal. Some of them become “managers” for your domain. Meaning you don’t have access to a control panel where you can go in and administer it. You must make changes through them. They can also block your ability to move your domain to another registrar.

The document they send appears to be a bill, but if you look closely at the fine print somewhere on the back or front you’ll see that they want you to change your registrar to them. These promotions usually have a disclaimer somewhere that it’s an offer, but you really have to search for it.

How do you find out your current registrar in case you’re just not remembering and you don’t want to search your credit card receipts?

Most registrars have a link to what’s known as the WHOIS system.

For instance on godaddy.com’s home page just scroll to the footer and in the links under “Resources” you’ll see “WHOIS Search”.

Click on it and enter your domain name in the form field (without the suffix), choose the suffix (.com, .net, .org, etc) from the pop up menu and click go.

You’ll be taken to a report that shows you all the info about your domain name.

Two caveats. In the event you have “Private” registration, certain personal details won’t be available.

Sometimes, certain registrars will want you to go to their specific WHOIS search. When submitting the godaddy form you’ll get a notice pointing you in their direction.

In general, when you receive a promotion like this, google the company name along with the word scam, if it’s  questionable, you’ll find plenty of information about them.