Have you ever gotten a piece of mail, or an email, that looks like this?

Looks pretty official, right? And your domain IS about to expire. So you might very well go “ah yes, this is how I renew my domain, I shall send them some money!”

Don’t do it.

These “domain name expiration notice” letters, and the near-identical emails our clients forward to us a few times a year, are a scam. They do NOT come from your domain name provider (who may very well send you emails, but they won’t look like this, and they’ll come from a company you have an existing relationship with), they come from predatory domain name providers who want to trick you into switching over to their domain name registry.

Not only are they acting in bad faith and trying to trick you, they’re also charging more than twice the going rate for domain registrations. You’ll note that this notice wants me to pay $50 per year to register my domain with them. My existing domain name provider will charge me about $15 per year.

So how can you know if you’re receiving a real domain expiration notice/domain renewal notice or a scam notice? Look for the words “This notice is not a bill” or “This is not an invoice”, or any similar language. Those phrases mean “you don’t have a relationship with us” and are big flashing warning signs of a domain renewal scam.

This is not a bill circled in purple on a false domain registration letter
See that bold-yet-still-easily-missed “this notice is not a bill”? Yeah. Not a bill.

Now, what happens if you DO send money to one of these places? Great question. I have no idea. It’s entirely possible that some of them are full on fraud, and will just take your money and run, leaving your domain to expire at its current registrar. Some of them no doubt will take over the registry of your domain…which might be fine (the overpayment for this notwithstanding), IF they also take care to point your domain at your hosting. If they don’t, your site will suddenly go down and you’ll have a bit of a challenge getting it back up and running. So your best case scenario is that you significantly overpay, and your worst case is that your site goes down. None of this is going to make your day go well!

The web is, unfortunately, full of bad actors. Frauds and scams abound. Domain renewal scams are sadly just the tip of the iceberg. The hasOptimization team is ALWAYS happy to review emailed or mailed domain expiration or domain renewal notices that our clients receive so that you don’t fall prey to a scam–or fail to respond to a real notice, which has consequences that might even be worse than falling for one of these fraudulent domain name expiration notices. If you’re not confident in managing domain registration and hosting services, we recommend you engage a web services company you trust to help ensure you make good choices–and we’d be delighted if you’d consider us. We are able to assist with domain registry and hosting for businesses anywhere in the United States, as well as web development and a full suite of marketing services.

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One response to “Fraud Alert: Domain Name Expiration Notices”

  1. Lily Anderson says:

    Yeah, I keep getting these “DOMAIN FINAL NOTICE” in my emails and its getting annoying. I only act on my domain provider even then I know when it is about to expire and I always renew before it does.