If you own a website, and you don’t know what I mean by “Domain Slamming” please read the following post.
Domain registration is a critical part of owning a website. Your domain is your address on the World Wide Web, or at least it is for people. Anyone running a business understands the importance of having their domain; after all, you’re not likely to get many visitors if you tell people to visit 126.96.36.199. (an IP address, which is what your computer uses to locate a site).
Normally you register a domain with a domain registrar like namecheap.com or godaddy.com. There are tons of companies that provide this service, usually for an annual fee. For most top-level domains, or TLDs (.com, .biz, .net, .org, etc) a domain runs around $12-$15/yr. It varies a bit, but that will at least get you in the right area code.
Often times, if you sign up for a hosting package, or if you sign up for a service like Squarespace or Weebly Premium, your domain is included in the price of your hosting, if you pay for a year of service.
What is Domain Slamming?
The Domain Slammer looks up the registration information for your domain, which is publicly available if you don’t pay the extra $10/yr for privacy protection. They send you a very official looking piece of mail which tells you that your domain is going to expire. The letter is accurate in its claims, however, the notice is intentionally misleading. They tell you that your domain will expire and that if it does, you may lose it, and visitors to your site will be unable to find its location. This is true, but what they fail to mention is that they are merely a third party who wants you to transfer the registration of your domain over to them, so they can charge you a much higher rate than you are probably paying with your current registrar.
The Letter comes in a brown envelope so that it looks like it may be coming from the government, or some branch thereof. The company has a very official sounding name (I got one today from iDNS Canada) for a domain that I own which will expire in 5 months. Your domain registrar will send you multiple notices before your domain expires, but not 5 months in advance. The slammer is hoping you think that there is some sort of bill that you have to pay to keep your website, so they can lock you in as your registrar at a rate much higher than what the market dictates.
Avoid Getting Scammed
You can pay the $10/yr (or so) that most registrars charge for privacy protection or domain locking. I wouldn’t recommend this option because it’s really not necessary. Simply read your mail and ask yourself some questions. Is this from a government agency? A good indicator will be their web address. What are they asking you to do? If your domain is registered with one company, then you shouldn’t have to pay someone else for registration. Most registrars will start sending expiration notices about 90 days in advance. If you get them further out than that, then you can probably ignore it.
You may have a request to update your domain registration information. If you receive a request, just google the name of the organization making the request to make sure that the request is on the level. If you live in certain countries, and you use a country specific TLDs (I live in Canada, and I have a .ca domain) the government may request you to verify your citizenship or residency in such a country.
Read your mail. Don’t just look at what appears to be a renewal notice and pay it. Be clear about what you are paying. Keep track of where your various domains are registered; that way if you receive a request from someone else, you know that you can disregard it. Finally, just use Google to search for the name of the company which sends you any such notifications. A company called iDNS sent me the notice in the picture above. If I search for their name, the first page of search engine results is full of warnings about a scam.