Back in 2012, domain renewal scams were extremely popular false billing scams which seemed to be targeting everyone who had domain names registered. One widespread scam that was occurring around 2012 was in the form of a letter (not email) from a sender called “Domain Renewal Group”. The letter looked fairly genuine as it looked professional, stated your domain name, a few terms to which you could renew for (as in 1 year, 2 years and 5 years), contained a list of other available domain names for you and a credit card section at the bottom. Unfortunately, at the time a lot of registrars and resellers were coming across clients who believed their domain name had already been renewed, only to find out that they had supplied credit card details to a company that didn’t even intend on renewing their domain.
Since 2012, these scams and similar types of domain scams have slowed down just a little, which would most likely be because people seemed to be catching onto them. However, since we still get the odd domain name renewal scam sent by email, we thought it would be worth alerting you again of these scams so that you’re aware of them and know how easy it is for cybercriminals to lookup a pre-existing domain names and obtain your details to scam you.
As you would be aware, domain names must be renewed with accredited domain name registrars/ resellers every few years. All .com.au domains must be renewed every 2 years. For others, such as .com or .net, you get yearly options when renewing. While the big registrars won’t generally call you to notify you that your domain name is expiring, they will definitely email you a few times before it expires to let you know. If your domain name is registered through a reseller, the reseller may often give you a courtesy call to let you know it’s up for renewal.
There are several domain registrars out there today and also several resellers for the large registrars. When you register a domain name, it’s important that you take note as to where your domain name is registered and who it is registered through. Not only will this send out warning bells if you do receive a scam email, but it will also save you time if you ever need to login to your domain name and make any changes to your records or contact details.
If you have a domain name and you do receive an email renewal that doesn’t look correct or seem to be from the company you registered your domain name with, it’s always best to contact your IT tech who may know, or point you in the right direction. If you don’t have an IT technician and can’t locate any emails from your original registration, feel free to contact us or another local IT company who can point you in the right direction. Your domain name can always be looked up and located.
Before you go, we have put together some examples of scam emails that we have come across. In these examples, we have circled a few things that stood out to us as unprofessional.
Domain Name Scam Example #1:
- Email: The first and most obvious thing that stood out to us was the fact that the email didn’t come from a recognisable domain name registrar. Even if it did, the company wouldn’t use their “newsletter” email to alert you of your expiring domain. You can always Google a domain name that an email comes from and see if it is a legitimate company, but in this case, we knew it wasn’t.
- Expiration and Registration Dates: We noticed that this email contained three different dates. The date for the registration period was a date two weeks after the expiration date.
- Date: When sending out emails, we don’t usually place a date on the top right corner.
- “SEO Service Registration”: Search Engine Optimisation has nothing to do with domain name registration. It appears that the cybercriminals have tried to sound clever in this email.
Domain Name Scam Example #2:
- Email: Once again, the email that this email was generated from isn’t a domain name registrar.
- Date: Although we don’t place email addresses on the top corners of emails, if we did, the date that this email was sent on is different to the date typed in this email on the top right.
- Renewal Domain Service: This wording doesn’t make sense.
- “Please click on”: This is not wording that a professional company would use.
Read more on false billing scams on Scamwatch here.