As a business we get a lot of letters and calls telling us to renew our domain name. Companies will try to tell us that if we don’t renew our domain name with them, they will take it down and remove it from the internet, taking down your website with it. If you own, manage, answer phone calls, or open mail at a business, you’ve probably encountered this, too.
What is a Fake Domain Renewal?
Fake domain renewals come in a rainbow of colors, styles, and forms. We want to give you a few pointers that can help you identify spammy or fake domain website renewals in order to spot them when they show up in your mailbox or on the phone.
If you have been scammed by a fraudulent marketing agency, domain listing, or search engine business listing company in the past, Art Unlimited is sincerely apologetic you had to endure such a situation. These are the people we are trying to help you fight on a regular basis. No one should deceive customers in order to profit, ever.
Below we have a scanned in a recent Domain Listings “bill” received by one of our customers. We will walk through the the wording and strategically placed words that can make a person pay money they don’t owe. We will also cover the red flags that let us know this domain renewal is a fraud.
There are so many different solicitations for online scams. We cannot say the one that has shown up at your door will look exactly like the one we will be analyzing today. However, we hope we can give you some tips and tricks on how do your research and read the fine print, so you don’t become one of the frustrated businesses that has been taken advantage of.
What Do Spam Domain Listing Renewals Looks Like?
From first glance, it looks like an ordinary invoice for some sort of service. This is an extremely sneaky tactic for spam companies. Businesses with billing departments or with multiple hands in charge of paying invoices or bills may let this slip through their scam radar as it looks like an official invoice document.
Initial scan of document:
Now, we could walk through how to spot the red flags from left to right, top to bottom. This is a standard reading pattern in English, it is not always the order we read in. When first scanning this document , the older lettering and watermark catch the reader’s eyes.
Step 1. Check out the company information. On this one, the website listed does not exist. This “company” only has a PO box. If you are a business managing a multitude of domains, you probably have multiple employees, and an office. Either way, the best thing you can do is a little research. Here is what happened when we searched
“domainlisting.org” in Google:
This is a good indicator that we aren’t going to have to worry about paying this “invoice.”
Step 2. Check company reviews. When I searched this company, I went to the first credible review platform I saw, the Better Business Bureau. Here is a shot of this company’s latest reviews in the BBB:
Reading these, it is clear the “bill” we received in the mail is a solicitation attempt.
If you are not convinced or want to see all the colorful language that has been used on their other reviews, check out their Yelp Listing here.
Step 3. Read the fine print. We cannot stress this enough. It literally says “This is not a bill. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the stated above unless you accept this offer.” This text is gray, and it is on the backside of the document, so it doesn’t stand out. Scamming companies keep such phrases on there because the government would be able to go after them a lot quicker without it. Although, it can still pass as unfamiliar to you.
We have also uploaded a similar domain scam we received from a different company. Feel free to check it out and see the similarities between the two!
How can a business owner double check that payments are valid on a domain renewal?
If you have a domain, you have purchased it from somewhere. When that happened, your domain provider most likely gave you a login for their system. You can log into your account and see your account information, like when your domain is actually up for renewal. You should also be able to see your billing history or request a copy of your transactions from your provider’s billing department.
If you are collaborating with a marketing partner that manages your domain for you, you should be able to contact them and have them log into your domain provider account. Your marketing agency has probably encountered their fair share of these scams, and should be able to let you know who your domain is registered with, and when you’ll need to renew it.
Will a company bill a business owner even if they have never contacted them before?
Doesn’t this question just sound weird? We think so! It is not very often that you pay a company to perform a service, that you have never spoken with. If you have never heard of a company, and haven’t seen what they are providing for you, it is probably a smart idea to investigate that situation.
The reason scammy domain renewals are paid by unsuspecting employees is that they are designed to fly under the radar as a mundane, regular bill.
If you are unsure who or what a company does for you, look into it before you pay them! There is nothing wrong with double checking where your money is going. We hope these tips can help prevent you from the headache of paying one of these unprofessional scams. If you would like to learn more about how Art Unlimited manages domains and securely hosts websites, just ask! We are happy to help answer your questions.