Watch the video above for more information.
Anyone who has a website or blog generally has a domain name registered to it. For instance, my domain name is norakramerdesigns.com. When you register your domain name it is good for a certain period of time, depending on how long you choose at registration. Many people choose just one year, and then renew it again, before it expires, every year. Some people may pick five or ten years until it needs to be renewed again (a good practice, by the way).
When your domain comes up for renewal, chances are you will be notified by your registrar that it is time. If you aren’t on auto-renew, you may go in and take care of it at that time. But, a lot of people generally don’t think much about it, until they receive that notice. And, a lot of people don’t understand the technical terms and difference between “domain names,” “hosting,” and other internet and website terms. I know, because I get asked questions about that stuff a lot. And, that is what the type of scammer I am going to be talking about here is counting on.
So this morning I received an email in my inbox. I don’t know why, but this one really struck a chord with me. I get them all the time, just like the rest of you do, and I am always able to tell the real deal from a scam. Despite the fact that I knew instantly that this was a scam, this one really got to me. I think perhaps it is the “urgency” the sender is trying to create.
If you can panic people, they forget that they have no idea what they are dealing with, and their instant impulse is to react and make it all better. And, that’s just what the tone of this email is doing. So, here is the email I received:
Attention: Important Notice , DOMAIN SERVICE NOTICE
Domain Name: norakramerdesigns.com
ATT: NORA KRAMER
REGISTRANT CONTACT: +1.3864731132
Response Requested By
15 - May - 2015
PART I: REVIEW NOTICE
Attn: NORA KRAMER
As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration. This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your registration.
Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.
Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering. Search engine registration includes domain name search engine submission. Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.
This Notice for: norakramerdesigns.com will expire at 11:59PM EST, 15 - May - 2015 Act now!
Select Term and Package Here
Payment by Credit/Debit Card
Select the term using the link above by 15 - May - 2015
The information in this letter contains confidential and/or legally privileged information from the notification processing department of the SEListingReg 1521 Alton Road Suite #464, Miami Beach, FL 33139 USA, This information is intended only for the use of the individual(s) named above. If you do not wish to receive further updates from SEListingReg Unsubscribe here. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that disclosure, copying, distribution or the taking of any action in reliance on the contents for this letter is strictly prohibited.
A Sense of Urgency Throughout
I’m going to deconstruct this a little bit, to show you how someone might think this is the real deal.
The sender’s name in my box simply said “Domain Notice”. If you will notice, the subject line reads “Final Notice of Domain Listing.”
As you get into the body of the email you will notice they have included my real domain, my real email address that is tied to my domain, and my real phone number. This is all information that is very easy to get online, by the way, which I show you in the video above.
They start by saying they are notifying me of this as “a courtesy” (how nice of them!) and they use the words “important” and “failure to complete,” which will lead to dire consequences, to let me know just how important this message is.
They also have one line in there that says, ” This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your registration.” To someone who thinks it may be time for them to renew their domain, this may get their attention.
Then, in the paragraph below that, they point out that not doing so “by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.” Well, that sounds scary, huh? If you don’t do this, you are going to lose your domain and your website is going to go down! Yikes, you better act right away.
Oh, wait, they have given you a deadline and it is TODAY! I better act fast! They then proceed to point out that you better not “discard” this notice. It’s that important that you act…and fast!
Twisting Words to Sound Like Something They Aren’t
One of the key things I notice in the email is how they have carefully used their words to make you think this is one thing — an urgent notice about losing your domain name and website traffic, while carefully embedding information about what this is— a service where they will register your domain on search engines for a fee. Chances are they aren’t even going to do that for you, as you will see in my video, since we don’t even know who this company is.
Let me tell y’all something right now – you don’t need anyone else to register your domain on Google, Bing or Yahoo! You can do it for free yourself. It will take you maybe 15-20 minutes or so, but it is totally easy to do on your own.
But, in any event, while that is ultimately what they say you are paying for, that is not the tone of the email they are sending. The email makes it sound like there are going to be “dire consequences” with your entire website and domain name, if you don’t do this through them. Now.
Where Does That Link Go Anyway?
So, as I said, I knew right off that this was a shady email. But, I decided to dig into things a bit further. I clicked over to their link – not something I would recommend people doing, by the way, because you never know what that link will land on, malicious software, for instance – but I was going to take my chances because I wanted to find out just who these people were.
You might be better served by simply copying and pasting the bulk of their email into a Google search. It’s very likely that, if it is a scam, there will already be someone on the internet telling you that, just based on the wording you searched.
But, anyway, I clicked and was taken to this page:
This page looks to be a shopping cart of sorts. But, what was really glaring to me is that there is absolutely no company name or phone number, to know who you are dealing with, no branding of any kind, and it looks like they are charging you outrageous prices for something you can do yourself for free.
But, I try to put myself into the shoes of what a busy business person might be doing and think, “Oh wow, I better hurry up – they only gave me one day, after all — and get this done to make sure my name is registered on Google, Yahoo and Bing, so customers can find me,” and I click through on the $47 option.
That takes me to this page:
Have mercy! This is where the veins in my forehead start to pop! Another entirely unbranded page and they are asking you to input your credit card information in here, y’all!
While I am fairly confident that at this point most people would have kind of had the proverbial lightbulb turn on over their head, I shudder to think of the number of people who might actually have entered this information, just being in a hurry and whatnot, not really understanding the email they got, and/or just simply not thinking.
At this point, my friends, you have just given your personal information, along with your credit card information, to a complete stranger, for a service they may, or may not, be providing.
And, even if they are providing the service, you still don’t know who they are, or how to contact them, and you have just spent $50 on a service that you could do yourself for free in about 15 minutes.
And the kicker? It has absolutely nothing to do with the registration of your domain name!
Take Time to Investigate Where An Email Came From
So, I decided to try to track down just who the sender of this awful email is and learned their domain was newly registered, within the last month, to someone out of Columbia and their registered email address, after a search, leads me back to no specific legitimate company. Well, if that doesn’t scream BEWARE, I don’t know what does.
Be sure to watch my video above for more information on how to investigate whether or not an email is legit, before you turn over your personal information to someone.
This isn’t the first time this email has made the rounds, although it looks like it has been resurrected recently, nor is it the only email of this type that gets around. Always be diligent and on the lookout for this stuff.
If you have questions about an email pertaining to your website or domain, ask your website developer or designer, your hosting provider, or maybe a friend or relative who has more experience in these type of things, before following through on something like this.
I also have another post about various types of domain name scams and unscrupulous sales methods you might want to read.
OK. PSA rant over.
Here’s another one a client submitted that they had received. It is quite a bit more “professional” looking and convincing.
Note how carefully the email is worded. While they are misrepresenting themselves (I believe, to people that don’t know better), they aren’t. “Don’t miss out on this offer which INCLUDES search engine submissions for 12 months.” Then a few sentences later they say, “This offer for submission serves is not required to renew your domain registration.”
No, this offer has NOTHING to do with domain registration! It has to do with charging you an obscene amount of money for something that is easy and quick.
They also employ the “scare tactic” of not being found online with the sentence that reads: “Failure to complete your search engine registration by 6/6/2015 may result in cancellation of this order (making it difficult for your customers to locate you using search engines on the web).
Their checkout page is quite a bit more slick and professional:
But, again, you are handing over your credit card information with no idea who you are dealing with. Note the URL address for this page. Who is this? No branding or company name is ever given.
Just one more, in a line of never ending people out to prey on people with websites, but little knowledge of the procedures involved in registering their domain and keeping it registered.
Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to avoid this kind of thing. You can always follow me online by going to my Facebook page and liking it and/or subscribing to my newsletter, which will bring you more informative articles like this one.