“Your domain name expires today – hurry and pay us before your website goes offline!” Have you received an email like this in the past? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of phony domain expiration emails are sent out each day.
We all like to think we would never be duped by one of these scams. But the truth is scammers use extremely effective tactics, such as playing on our fears and sense of urgency, to trick us into paying up. We want to help you protect your business from succumbing to one of these phony domain expiration notices. Read on to find out how.
Signs of a Domain Renewal Scam
There are several tell-tale signs of a domain renewal scam. Below is an image of a phony email one of our clients received.
Here’s what to watch out for:
1. Dramatic Sense of Urgency
If the sender is notifying you that your domain expires today, it is likely a scam. At Informatics, we give our clients notice several months in advance and send out frequent reminders.
2. Unfamiliar or Suspicious Senders
If you are not familiar with the email address that sent the notice, this is a clear sign it may be a scam. Additionally, if the sender’s email or name is suspicious – filled with numbers, strange characters or nonsensical words – you’re probably getting scammed.
3. Odd URLs
Similar to the suspicious sender, if the URL that the email address belongs to is strange or unfamiliar, it is probably fake. Your actual expiration notice should come from your hosting provider or domain registrar.
4. Multiple Spelling Errors
As with all online scams, if the email is filled with spelling errors or poor grammar, it cannot be trusted.
5. Unrealistic Renewal Costs
Renewing your domain should not cost an arm and a leg. While it varies depending on who you go through and the type of domain you own, an email asking you to provide credit card information for a $100+ renewal fee should be treated as suspicious.
What a Legitimate Notice May Look Like
A legitimate notice of domain expiration should appear trustworthy and come from a familiar sender. The company that hosts your website or the company your domain was purchased through will likely be sending you the notice. In addition, the notice should come well in advance of the actual expiration date.
How to Verify Legitimacy
If you cannot tell if the email you received is legitimate or not, there are a few steps you can take to verify.
1. Check who it is from
First and foremost, verify that the sender is someone you are familiar with. Did your hosting provider send it? What about the domain registrar?
2. If there is any uncertainty, reach out to your hosting provider
If you do not recognize the sender, contact your hosting provider. We often receive emails from our clients regarding this and are more than happy to look into it.
3. If you do not know who to reach out to, check Whois.com
Finally, if the sender is unfamiliar and you have no idea who to contact, visit Whois.com. By searching your domain name in the upper right hand corner of this website, you can find out when your domain actually expires, who your domain is registered through, who your technical contact is and so much more.
It is always best to err on the side of caution. If you receive one of these emails, give us a call and we will gladly look into it for you. And as always, do not click on any email links from unfamiliar or suspicious senders. Contact Informatics today for more information on hosting and domain registration.