When it comes to domain listings, many small businesses try to keep it simple. Registering a domain and then renewing it every year to keep it active are typically all it takes to keep your domain listings in tip top shape.
Unfortunately, some shady companies have started to take advantage of this relatively straightforward process by producing domain listing scams that they masquerade as important documents from website hosting companies.
By sending official looking letters and invoices with a logo and return address, these fake domain listing companies can coerce small, unassuming businesses into paying hundreds of dollars a year, or sometimes each month, to maintain their website domains. For many companies, signing on the dotted line and sending an initial payment for these fake invoices leads to annual commitments and contracts with no way out.
Fortunately, by paying close attention to details, small businesses can avoid these domain listing scams, protect their domain listings, and keep their website hosting secure without much hassle!
So-called “companies” like Domain Listings, LLC. will typically send letters with invoices attached for “annual listing services.” These letters will often include a fake BBB Accredited Business logo or some other form of false accreditation. The letters will focus on how to make payments, what the “website domain listing” includes, and how to avoid “expiration”. Depending on the company, some letters may include a fine print line that mentions the recipient has “no obligation” to purchase the services, but most will not. Many letters may come around the time businesses are set to renew their domain listings with their actual website hosting companies.
As many domain listing scam letters and invoices tend to be sent out around the same time that website hosting companies invite their users to renew their domain listings (usually towards the end of the year), it can be difficult to determine whether an official looking letter is a scam or not.
To separate the scams from legitimate correspondence, try looking for phone numbers and addresses first. Legitimate website hosting companies with nothing to hide will clearly indicate how and where they can be contacted. Find an address? Google it to see if the address listed is legitimate.
If you’re still not certain what kind of correspondence you’ve received, scan your emails and recent transactions to identify whether you signed up for the company’s services in the first place. Many domain listing services can be handled by third parties even in legitimate situations, but you’ll almost certainly have a record of the company that provided your original domain listing. If you’re not sure what company handles your domain listings, or if you want to make sure that what you received is legitimate, you can always call your website host to have them take a look.
These businesses that utilize these shady practices will most always have a website that you can visit that is really nothing but a shell of a website with basic content that is used to try to create a facade of professionalism. But when you dig a bit deeper, you can find that these businesses are a network of interconnected scams.
For example, after completing a simple google search of some of the content found on a “domain hosting” website, we have found 4 other websites that utilize the same two basic theme styles and the same content.
Reporting domain listing scams to the Better Business Bureau is a great way to get the company that’s sending these scams flagged. If the company is posing as something it’s not (like a website hosting company), the BBB can launch an investigation that will save others the time and hassle of being duped by the same old tricks.
Additionally, we recommend taking a photo of the letter or invoice in question and sharing it with your digital marketing agency. Here at Get You Found, for instance, we have a great team of pros that specializes in keeping domain listings secure. When in doubt, it never hurts to trust the professionals!
Domain listing scams are often only as deceptive as you allow them to be. By following a few simple tips, your business can continue to thrive without the pesky headache from scams!
Here are the current scams that we are seeing go around the small business community. If you have received any of these, please call the BBB to report them.
These Domain Listings LLC letters describe their services as a Website Listing Service providing “Annual Website Domain Listing” which includes “Annual Website Domain Listing on internet directory”.
They claim that this listing will provide 24/7 x 365 Worldwide Exposure Customer Access, and even try to make your payment look urgent by claiming the offer, and your domain, will expire if you do not send them payment of $228.00 for an Annual Listing.
This letter, from Vicco Web Llc looks like it is offering Yearly Web Hosting to “ensure your website remains active”. It warns that failure to register with them may result in website outages and a loss of your internet identity. This company wants you to send them a $180.00
This letter, from Domain Registry looks like it is offering a serious “value” with an option to pay for 5 years of renewal, but in reality is taking advantage of business owners who attempt to take on their digital marketing prescence on their own and are not experts in the field.
It is important to read the entire letter, because these domain scams often do mention that the letter is in fact not a bill, but a solicitation. If you have any doubts, make sure to contact the professionals at Get YOU Found!