Beware of Scammers!

Occasionally, we’ll get a call from one of our members asking us about an “official looking” domain name expiration notice they’ve received in the mail.  In short, the notice is a scam.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the only scam that deceptive marketers are pushing.  We want to expose several of these cons, so you don’t fall victim to their deceptive marketing tactics.

What to Watch Out For

All of these scammers try to lure you in by including enough technical information to look official.  Unless you take the time to read the fine print, you’ll miss the “this is not a bill” language tucked inside their deceptive notice.  There are too many of these scams to list, but the following are the most prominent:

First, there’s the domain name expiration notice.  It has your domain name on it, a bar code, credit card logos, etc., all designed to make it look official.  At a glance, the letter gives the impression that you need to take action, yet, when you read the fine print, it has the “this is not a bill” language in it.  It’s really an offer for services designed to look like a bill.  It’s a scam.  Note: If your domain name is currently managed by ProSites, we automatically take care of your domain renewals for you, so you can ignore any such notice from third parties.

Next, there’s the notice for DNS services.  Again, the notice has your domain name on it, a bar code, and a bunch of technical information to lure you in to thinking it’s official.  In fact, they even added our ProSites names servers within the notice (ns1.prosites.com, ns2.prosites.com, etc.) to really sell the lie.  You have to read through the notice to find the “this is not a bill” language.  It’s a scam.  These invoices are NOT from ProSites and you DO NOT need to pay for this service.

Finally, there’s the foreign domain name registry (typically in China) that sends you an email stating that someone has applied for an Internet Trademark or keyword using your domain name.  The kindly worded email shows your domain name (with the “.cn” or similar China/Asia extension) and states that they want to give you the opportunity to secure the domain name before they are forced to allow the other party to register your name.  It’s a scam.  What’s really going on here is the domain registrar in China is trying to drum up foreign domain registrations by scaring you in to thinking someone is about to infringe on your name.

How Deceptive Companies Find Your Information

Since you have a website, you naturally own the domain name for your site (e.g., www.yourdomain.com).  Current ICANN regulations require that your contact information be included in the publicly accessible domain name database (referred to “WhoIs Info”).  This means your private contact information is on display and made available to anyone who wants to see it.

Because domain registration information is open to the public, spammers and solicitors can easily lookup your contact information (i.e., your name, address, phone number, email address, etc.) and use it to send you spam and advertisements deceptively designed to look like an official invoice or renewal notice.

Private Registration Protects Your Information

In an effort to protect the domain owner’s information, many of the world’s leading domain name registrars offer “Private Registration” services.  Private registration privatizes your personal information within the WhoIs database by switching your “public” domain registration to a “private” unlisted registration.

The following is a before and after example of how Private Registration can protect your information:

As you can see, Private Registration shields your personal information from the public WhoIs database.  The registrar acts as a proxy agent and maintains your real email address on file so you receive important information regarding your domain name but reduces spam emails by using a dynamic email address that that changes frequently.

This inexpensive service is just $9.95/year (per domain) and provides the following benefits and protection:

•  Shields your private contact information
•  Reduces unwanted spam and email harvesting
•  Forwards important communications
•  Curtails data mining attempts
•  Reduces risk of domain highjacking
•  Reduces the risk of identity theft

ProSites members are encouraged to add Private Registration to their domain names by contacting our Domain Administration team at (888) 932-3644.

How to Verify if ProSites is Contacting You

While scammers may try to mislead you with official looking letters and emails, please keep the following in mind:

•  An email from ProSites will always be from an email address with our domain (such as service@prosites.com or domains@prosites.com)
•  A letter from ProSites will always be on our corporate stationary (with our logo)

If you’re ever questioning whether a piece of mail you received is legitimately from ProSites, please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at (888) 932-3644.