As a local business owner with an online presence, there’s a good chance you’ve received an “invoice” in the mail for an annual domain listing on an internet directory. Business and website domain owners just like you, have received similar “invoices” from a company called Domain Listings. And while it may seem like a perfectly reasonable invoice seeing as you own a website domain, it’s actually a scam. Domain Listings is a predatory company designed to trick individuals into paying for a fake service. The service they are supposedly providing is to list your domain name on sites like Google. But ultimately, it isn’t a legitimate service at all—it’s simply a ploy to exploit people for their money.
In this article, we want to give you the knowledge you need to identify and avoid fake domain renewal services.
What is the Domain Listings scam?
Domain Listings is a fake company which preys on businesses who think they need to pay a fee to be listed on the internet for their business’s website.
If you have been scammed by a fraudulent marketing agency, domain listing, or search engine business listing company in the past, you know it isn’t fun. It can be detrimental to your business’s finances.
Below we’ve included an example of a fake invoice received by other individuals to help you identify fraudulent invoices. Please note not all fraudulent invoices will look exactly like the example we’ve included below. However, we hope we can give you some tips and tricks on reading the fine print so you can avoid being taken advantage of.
Why does it matter for business owners?
Domain Listing scams are actually quite common. If you browse the internet for examples, you’ll notice several articles discussing instances in which individuals were taken advantage of. While for some companies, getting scammed out of a couple hundred dollars isn’t a big deal, for local business owners with so much at stake, it can have a detrimental financial impact.
Here’s How to Spot a Domain Listings Scam
Be aware of what it actually costs to run a website.
As a domain owner, you only have two mandatory costs to keep your website live. One is registration, typically through a website like NameCheap or GoDaddy, and this service protects the ownership of your domain. This is generally under $50 per year depending on promotions and length of registration. The other is website hosting, typically through a website like SquareSpace or Wix, and this keeps your website up and active. Hosting should be under $50 per month.
If you find yourself paying for any additional website-related fees, revisit your bills and pay serious attention to where they’re coming from. If they don’t come from a domain registration or domain hosting website, it’s likely a scam. As a business owner, it’s essential to know where your domain is registered and where your website is hosted. A great way to remember is by writing down the information wherever you keep other important business records, like your bank information.
Pay close attention to details.
A simple way to identify a fake invoice is through the wording of the invoice. Strange wording may not always be easy to spot—literally. On some ‘invoices,’ the text may be gray and on the backside of the document, so it’s easy to miss. Predatory companies often keep phrases like “This is not a bill. This is a solicitation,” on the invoice to make it more difficult for authorities to come after them for their predatory behavior.
Here are a few phrases you can use to identify fake invoices:
- ‘WEBSITE LISTING SERVICE’—It’s important to note there’s no such thing as a ‘website listing service.’ There are only ‘domain registration’ and ‘website hosting’ in regards to your website domain.
- ‘DOMAIN NAME EXPIRATION NOTICE’—Unless the invoice is from the website you registered your domain through, you can be confident the invoice is fake.
- ‘THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.’— First and most obviously, this phrase indicates the invoice is not a bill, meaning you do not owe the company anything. Second, and again, unless the invoice is from the website you registered your domain through, you can be certain the invoice is fake.
Check out the company information.
As soon as you get a questionable invoice, Google the company online. If the company doesn’t show up on common search engines, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. For example, when you search “domain listings” in Google, the following results come up:
Simply scrolling through and doing a little research can help you avoid being taken advantage of.
Check company reviews.
If you aren’t entirely convinced after searching the company name, consider typing “reviews” in following the company name to see what comes up.
When we searched “domain listings reviews,” these were the following results:
And when we searched a known company, GoDaddy, these were the following results:
The big difference? When we searched “Domain Listings,” there were scam warnings. When we searched GoDaddy, nothing of the sort came up and star ratings were available.
Domain Listing scam Q&A
What is Domain Listings Service?
Domain Listings Service is a fraudulent company and their primary goal is to scam people out of their money with fake services. Other fake businesses with similar ‘services’ may exist under alternative names.
What does domain listing mean?
A domain name or a domain listing is essentially your website’s equivalent of a physical business address.
A domain name takes the form of two main elements: the website’s name (ex. FaceBook), and the domain name extension (ex. .com). When a business or a person purchases a domain name, they’re able to specify which server the domain name points to.
What is National Domains LLC?
National Domains, LLC is an informational resource and online directory. They do not provide domain registration or domain renewal services. On National Domains, LLC, you can check to see whether or not a domain name is available, identify a domain’s registry domain ID, and more.
Do What You Can to Protect Your Business
And as a small business owner, we know you’re trying your hardest to stay in business and stay profitable, so the last thing you want is to send money to a fake company providing fake services. So, if you receive a paper invoice or an unknown phone call regarding your hosting or domain name, be incredibly cautious. Beyond keeping your business safe, if you’re looking to encourage more traffic on your website, Podium Starter can help you generate and close more leads than ever before.