Yesterday a client forwarded an email to me that said his domain name registration was expiring. All he had to do was to click on a link and he’d be taken to a screen where he could renew the name for another year.
The renewal email is a scam, although possibly not illegal.
What was wrong with this reminder notice and renewal offer?
- My client’s domain name (www.mycompany.com) is NOT registered with the sender of the email. He uses our recommended registrar, Webmasters.com.
- The sender of the email notice, ISP Renewal Domain Name Services, prices the one-year renewal at $79.95. We pay $9.95 at Webmasters.com.
- The renewal web page (at right) displays the logos of well-known companies, presumably to lend credibility to the web page. The companies whose logos are display, Oracle, Cisco Systems, IBM, and Microsoft have nothing to do with the renewal of my client’s domain registration. (I wonder if these companies know that their logos are displayed on the renewal page.)
- The “from” address of the email is [email protected]. The ending “.org” makes it look like the sender is a not-for-profit organization. However, no one has to prove that they are a non-profit to have a .org address. For-profit companies are free to register .org addresses to trick people into thinking that they are a do-gooder organization instead of a profit-making company. This practice isn’t illegal, but it rings my warning bells.
The fine print in the renewal letter does confess that:
If you wish to assign (emphasis added) ISPRenewal to extend your domain, please click on the link above. If you do not not wish renew your domain, you may disregard this e-mail. Note! No changes will be made in the WHOIS information if you choose to your domain with us. You will still have your current Domain Service Provider (sic) . You may also request your resent (sic) Domain Service Provider to extend your domain.
In other words, this company has no relationship with you. But, they want you to pay them to pay your current domain registrar to renew. The fee for this renewal is only 8 times what you would pay yourself.
Although their boilerplate renewal email includes a typo and admits to the worthlessness of the service, I am sure that some businesses fall for this scam. My client almost fell for it!
The truth is that many web site owners don’t know what “domain registration” is. They’re confused by hosting services, domain name registration, and all that “tech stuff”. The email’s conflating of hosting services and domain name registration into “Domain Service Provider” encourages this confusion. So, many owners will simply pay whatever “bill” that comes in to keep their web site up.
This scheme is similar to the phony invoice-looking mailings that businesses receive all the time. You know, the come-ons disguised as bills which the sleazy sender hopes will trick some business owner into paying for something that they haven’t ordered.
Another sleazoid is loose in the market place. All I can do is recommend that if you get an offer from ISP Renewal, trash it. It’s misleading and designed to trick you into doing business with them. And, based on their domain registration renewal ethics, I don’t think you want to do any business with them.