Domain Name & Internet Related Scams

There have been a lot of scams out there, but one that is a continual thorn in the web world are the scams that somehow surpass e-mail and are mailed or faxed directly to clients:

* Domain Registry of America
* Internet Listing Service (ILSCORP.NET)
* Simple.net
* Domain Registry Support

Let’s examine all of these a little closer:

DOMAIN REGISTRY OF AMERICA (DROA):
At this point, they are not really doing anything illegal. This company mails a letter to the admin contact of a domain name reminding the person to renew the domain name before it expires. This becomes a problem when the domain is NOT registered through Domain Registryof America. The letter makes it look like if you don’t go ahead and renew, you will lose your domain. What you lose is your money because if you do not unlock your domain to be transferred to Domain Registry of America, then you have to go through the added headache of cancelling the check or credit card you gave them.

At Giraffe Web, we manage hundreds of domains, and invariably one of our clients gets the dreaded DROA letter. Most of our clients inform us they received the letter. However, we have a large handful of clients that manage their own domains, or their ISP manages it for them, and we have no control over those being transferred.

Domain Registry of America appears to be a legitimate registry if you go to their website, but you cannot find them on the ICANN approved list of registrars (so appears they are a reseller).

INTERNET LISTING SERVICE (ILSCORP.NET)
This letter is mailed directly to the Admin contact of the domain name. The reference here is “Subscription.” An unsuspecting person will think an annual fee is required to keep the domain name showing up in search engines. For someone who doesn’t understand much about web sites, they will go ahead and the pay the $65 annual fee. The letter does have this disclaimer in the middle of the page: “THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.”

The best way to get your web site listed in search engines is to have your site coded correctly and make sure it validates according to w3C recommendations, among many other factors, and there is NO guarantee where your site will show up on search engines. If you have any questions about your site and search engines, discuss this issue first with your web designer/developer or a firm that specializes in Search Engine Optimization.

SIMPLE.NET:
Another scam is one that arrives in the mail as the form of a check. You deposit it and you have just approved an automatic, monthly draft to your account for internet services. One such scam is Simple.net and the deposit provides bank routing numbers to Simple.net, an ISP and website building, hosting provider. (Thanks to Oregon Sue for alerting us to this one!).

DOMAIN REGISTRY SUPPORT:
Another scam is coming over fax machines. One that looks like your domain name is going to be available for sale and it is actually not a domain name you already own… such as if you own www.mydomain.com it will tell you your domain, www.mydomain.us, is about to be lost, when you own the .COM not the .US version of your domain. The top of the fax says, “URGENT NOTICE OF DOMAIN EXTENSION”. It will look like an official document, and contain wording such as, “Please be advised that the above noted domain has become eligible for registration. Consequently, the possibility of conflicting domain name registrations may occur.”

Before you pay that invoice from any of the above companies or someone else, do your homework first:

1. Check a legitimate whois information service if you do not know where your domain is registered, such as http://www.checkdomain.com or at Network Solutions where you can click on the WHOIS link.
2. Call your webmaster to confirm your domain registration information. If you webmaster is not available, call the registrar listed under your whois information (at the very least, the technical contact).

If anyone finds any other scams that fall within the above categories, please post them here!

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