Quick overview: If you should ever receive a letter like this one, dispose of it. It is NOT what it seems at all.
The letter below is a scam. Companies like “Domain Registry of America” simply look for domains without privacy features enabled and send them junk mail. There are ways to look up a domain name and find information about the owner (unless they have opted to pay to keep their personal details private).
How It Works: Companies, or even individuals, find unprotected domain names. They then harvest the information they find and shoot you out a letter that makes it sound as if you will lose your domain should you not do what they say. It is my opinion that this practice is dishonest, unethical, and uses dirty business tactics. The problem is that they seem to get away with it despite the FTC Having Addressed This way back in 2003.
How Easy Is It To Do? Unfortunately, it’s a very easy thing to do.
There are many services which provide such information to anyone who wishes to look it up. You can give it a try yourself. Enter a domain name on the page I’ve linked to and you will see what information is available about the owner of that domain name.
If you get a letter like the one shown below it is your responsibility to identify it for what it is – a scam.
Below is the letter I received – if you get one, trash it.
“Domain Registry of America” does a fantastic job of making this appear to be some kind of official document don’t they? They use a name that envokes “America”, throw in some patriotic graphics, and use threats of losing your domain to perfection. Ignore the name and the graphics. The FTC originally identified them as a Canadian company.
Of course this is all just a method of getting you to transfer your domain to them. If you should fall for these tactics you will not only pay much more than you should for renewing your domain name, you may have your domain name held hostage by these clowns. You could even lose control of your domain name completely.
That would be a bad day, wouldn’t it?
It’s also possible that you will just send them a bunch of money and never hear from them again. It’s hard to say exactly what their angle is.
How to protect yourself and your domain(s)
- Know who your domain registrar is (e.g. GoDaddy), and NEVER share your information with anyone but them. Make certain that you are really communicating with your registrar. Go directly to their website or call their phone number. Do NOT take any chances by replying to email correspondence directly.
- Know when your domain is due to be renewed. Rogue companies will send these letters out whether the domain is up for renewal or not.
- Always view ANYONE you don’t know who is asking for money unexpectedly with great suspicion. This obviously does not just apply to domain names.
- If you are afraid you will not remember about this post, and you do not want your personal information available on the web – purchase privacy protection. If you don’t know how, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to explain how to go about doing so.
- Lock your domain so that it cannot be transferred. Do not share transfer keys with anyone unless you are absolutely sure of what you are doing. Do not share your registrar login information unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Use an encrypted password manager such as KeePass Password Safe (Free). Try not to keep passwords written down where others could potentially get access to them.
- Use strong passwords to protect your registrar account(s). A strong password should contain at least 8 characters containing both letters and numbers. KeePass can automatically create very strong passwords for you and store them in its database.
Please don’t fall for the “Domain Registry of America” scam. At best, they are trying to drum up business by unethical means. Who knows what other motives they may have.
There are other companies doing this, but “Domain Registry of America” seems to be exceptionally prolific. Be warned and protect your domain accordingly.
If you have any doubts about something you receive which is website related please contact MidState Design before doing anything.