If you are a small business owner who has purchased a domain name, then you may have come across a domain listing scam invoice. The documentation looks legit—the invoice has a logo, an account number, and includes your contact information and domain name.
But beware, these statements are designed to mask their true intentions. The statement may claim to be a registration for your domain name, ensure your site remains active, or optimize your website- however before you write a check, do some investigating!
A quick search of the company name or text from the letter might give you some insight into the legitimacy of the message.
Take a Closer Look
There are several companies that run similar website scams that have deceived many people; most scam statements follow a particular format. Check out some examples we have seen.
This website listing offer is provided to leading websites throughout the United States to enhance their Website exposure and to expose them to new customers through our directory. We are not a Domain Registrar and we do not Register or Renew Domain Names. The listing period is for 12 consecutive months and must be renewed annually if you wish to renew your Domain Listing and keep it active on our online website directory.
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.
MainStreet Web Pros
The following text is pulled from this web hosting company based in Wilmington, DE:
Hosting your website with us will ensure your website remains active, that you retain exclusive rights to it on the Web and now is the time to transfer your web hosting from your current provider to MainStreet Web Pros LLC. Failure to renew your web hosting by the expiration date may result in website outages and a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers to reach you on the Web. Privatization of web hosting and renewals allows the customer the choice of web hosting providers when initially establishing a website and also when renewing web hosting. Web hosting customers are not obligated to renew their web hosing with their current provider or with MainStreet Web Pros LLC. We would like you to renew your web hosting with MainStreet Web Pros LLC. There are no contracts and you are under no obligation to pay the amount stated here-within. This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services, or both, and not a bill, invoice, or statement of the account due. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to renew your hosting with MainStreet Web Pros LLC.
Internet Domain Name Services
The following text is pulled from this domain provider company based in Jersey City, NJ:
You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web, and now is the time to transfer and renew your current Registrar to Internet Domain Name Services. Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web. Privatization of Domain Registrations and Renewals now allows the consumer the choice of Registrars when initially registering and also when renewing a domain name. Domain name holders are not obligated to renew their domain name with their current Registrar or with Internet Domain Name Services. Review our prices and decide for yourself. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to switch your domain name registration to Internet Domain Name Services.
Read the Fine Print
If the format looks authentic, focus on the verbiage. Often, these forms use similar phrases.
Look out for the following claims:
“This website listing offer is provided to leading websites throughout the United States to enhance their Website exposure and to expose them to new customers through our directory.”
However, if you continue to read, the document will usually include:
“We are not a Domain Registrar and we do no Register or Renew Domain Names.”
Generally, the invoice will state:
“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.”
This last statement will appear towards the bottom of the last paragraph of text.
Real or Fake: 6 Tips for Determining If a Domain Renewal Letter Is Legitimate
Still unsure? We recommend:
- Thoroughly examine all paper domain statements. Usually, domain name registration renewals will come via email.
- While scanning the invoice, take note: does the invoice have a contact number? Generally, scammed documentation will not include direct contact information. If it does, try calling the number.
- Do a web search. Does the company have a website? Most of these scams are heavily documented on the internet, which can help you determine the validity of the source.
- Remember where you purchased your domain name. If you used a reputable company like GoDaddy, you will receive an invoice directly from the company. Normally, you will be charged $15-$20 a year for your domain name- an invoice for more is questionable.
- Track the date you are up for renewal. If you purchased your domain name for a year in December of 2018, you should expect to receive a reminder sometime in November of 2019.
- If you are still unsure, take a picture and call your digital marketing company.
What kinds of scams have you come across? We’d love to hear about it!