Owning a website and keeping it secure is a full-time job in today’s world. Whether you’re trying to keep it mobile-friendly or merely protect it from the latest rounds of hackers and exploits, it’s easy to get disgruntled with the whole process and just cross your fingers hoping for the best.
Scams are a dime a dozen, and they spare no expense when it comes to getting inside your website and costing you incalculable amounts of money. Last time, we talked about SEO scams and what to watch out for. But, today, our blog focuses on some common domain name scams and what to watch out for when someone tries to pull a fast one on you.
What is a domain name?
To know what a domain scam is, you first must know what a domain name is. Wikipedia describes a domain name as “an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet.” It goes on to add that domain names “are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System, or DNS. Any name in the DNS is a domain name.”
If that were all you had to go off of, that all seems very technical and complicated—because it is. Scammers depend on that misunderstanding and confusion to make money off of you. In a more laymen sense, domains names are what you type into the address bar to take you to a web site.
They are a helpful marketing tool if used correctly. Making your domain name something memorable, or at least easy to remember, is key. Some companies even opt to use their domain name as a sort-of call-to-action such as www.buythisproduct.com. The mark of a great domain, however, is usually one that is short and gets the point across.
Common Domain Scams
Easily the most common domain scam you’ll see is known as domain slamming. This tactic deceives the site owner into believing they are renewing the lease on their current domain when in reality, they are signing up for a new domain that looks very similar to your own. The difference can be as minute as one letter, but it is enough to keep you out of your own website.
Scammers will essentially data-mine databases to find domains that are coming up for renewal, making this a lucrative business by targeting many web sites all at once. The scam depends on a person’s lack of attention to detail—the invoices they send look legitimate, and the easiest way to avoid falling prey to this scam is to always make sure the invoice is from the company you’ve purchased the domain from, and to double-check the domain name being renewed is yours.
Less common than slamming, is the bogus trademark protection claim. Trademark protection is pretty important to companies, as it is asset protection in a sense. Laws across the globe say that brand owners need to be seen to protect their specific brand or they will lose the right to protect it in the future.
A scammer can play on this fear by sending you a notice that basically suggests there’s an organization trying to register a domain with your branding in that country. Again playing into your unfamiliarity, they offer their help by letting you register the domain through them like they are doing you a favor.
Failing to notice these scams can result in a devastating blow to your website and business.
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