A domain name carries your business identity and your website depends on it. Imagine receiving an email or a notification stating that your domain is about to expire and that you need to renew it urgently. In your haste, you might end up renewing it, especially if the email sounds legit, and you’re not sure when your domain expires.
But unfortunately, you might later find out that you have actually fallen prey to a scam known as domain slamming.
So, what is domain slamming and what type of issues can it pose? Are there ways to spot the signs of this scam?
What Is Domain Slamming?
The term “domain slamming” was coined after telephone slamming, where phone companies lure you into switching your current phone service to theirs.
But domain slamming is shadier because the victims are not informed beforehand that they will be transferring their domain name to a different registrar—instead, they get tricked into doing so.
During a domain slamming incident, you might receive an email, text message, or even a social media notification, stating that your domain registration is about to expire and needs urgent renewal.
These messages sometimes resemble invoices and also convey a sense of urgency, empathy, and professionalism, making it easy for anyone to overlook the malicious intent.
Issues Caused by Domain Slamming
So what happens if you naively end up transferring your domain to a scam registrar? Here are some potential problems you can face after falling victim to a domain slamming incident.
Losing Ownership of Your Domain
As a domain owner, losing ownership of your domain can be your worse nightmare; yet many face this stark reality once they fall prey to this scam.
Losing Your Website or Email
Depending on how you configured things, you might lose access to your important digital assets, including your emails.
In the worst-case scenario, your precious website might even go offline.
Paying a Higher Renewal Rate
Victims of domain slamming always end up paying higher fees to renew or transfer their domains with fake registrars.
The price for domain renewal with scam registrars is often way more than the actual purchase price of your domain. In retrospect, domain renewals should generally cost less than the initial purchase.
You Have Nowhere to Turn To
Sometimes, the scam domain registrar may disappear right after you complete the transaction.
And some domain slamming companies operate from overseas, which can further complicate things. They might even deny that the transaction ever took place, to keep you subscribed to their domain registration services.
How to Spot Domain Slamming
While it’s easy to fall for the domain slamming scam, there are ways you can safeguard yourself against it.
For instance, you should watch out for suspiciously-worded messages that include phrases like “Domain Registration Expiration Notice”, “You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web”, and “Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration may result in a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web.”
Always be on the lookout for the following:
- Ignore any email or correspondence that instills fear, urgency, or confusion.
- Ignore correspondences from a registrar unless they come from a company you are actually registered with. If you don’t recall who your registrar is, then conduct a WHOIS search. This will help you identify the registered owner for your domain, and you can even search for your domain expiration date there.
- Consider it a red flag if the registrar is asking for renewal fees that are higher than normal.
- Check if the domain name listed in the correspondence is similar to yours but not accurate. These alterations can be tiny, but make all the difference.
- Avoid any notification that is threatening you with your website ranking on Google or other search engines.
When it comes to safeguarding your domain, one little oversight can land you in a heap of problems. The good news is that by paying extra attention to those signs, you can keep your domain troubles at bay.
Register Domains Cautiously and Intelligently
Buying or renewing a domain name can be a tricky process, especially when you have to watch out for scams.
But a little caution and planning can go a long way. Besides making sure you are signing up with a legit domain registrar, extend your domain registration for many years. Luckily, most domain registrars can renew domains for up to 10 years in advance.
Setting up domain auto-renewal might be your best bet. Not only will it prevent your domain name from lapsing, but it will also help you in ignoring all types of domain slamming solicitations.
Cybercriminals can exploit abandoned domains for malicious reasons. Learn how to protect your domain from getting expired.
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