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Domain scams to watch out for

By Matt Adams on September 10th, 2016

I own a lot of domain names. Not just for Factor1 projects, but for some client work as well. So basically my name is the public owner of more domains than I care to admit. Daily, i get 25+ emails and about 2x a week I get physical mail spam (is that still spam?) about my domain names, but rarely legit.

First off, I only have domains registered 2 places, GoDaddy and NameCheap. I have reasons for the 2 but that’s not what this post is about. I share that I only have domains 2 places, because I know and expect communication from them, but anything else I know is a scam.

Domain Scam #1: Early renewal. 

I just got this the other day. A physical mailing about my domain name needing renewed from IDNS for the low low price of $45 a year.

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They demanded I act fast. I looked more, and what’s odd, is they wanted me to renew my URL by mid October. I know this domain well (factor1studios.com) and I KNOW it renews in January.  I follow a pro tip from our last post and set domains on my calendar as birthdays. Also that price. Sheesh thats about 3x the cost I actually pay for a .com.

Pro tip: Domains usually only cost $10 – $20 a year. Yes, some vanity domains, like .io or .ninja (never buy this unless you are actually a ninja) can cost $50 – $99 a year.

Domain Scam #2: Verifying country codes on behalf of a potential buyer.

This is a little trickier to explain. Basically, you will get a call or email from a domain verification company (Not a real thing) telling you that someone in their country (usually China, but sometimes Canada, or Australia) is trying to buy global rights to YOUR domain name in 15 – 20 other country codes (.ca, .cn. .aus, etc). They are following the “law” (There is no such law) and verifying with you that you release them to this other company.

Don’t worry, you can “protest” the purchase, by simply buying all these domains conveniently through the person contacting you. So you can spend hundreds of dollars “securing” these country codes. The scam is that they have no other buyer, there is no due diligence required, and they are only selling you domains you don’t need. Personally, I say they can have factor1studios.cn in China if someone wants it.

Domain Scam #3: SEO submission service renewal. 

This is usually mailed, but sometimes emailed. It’s an invoice for “Search Engine Listing” service. And without this $69 – $99 a year service, your domain won’t be in hundreds of search engine directories. Fun game–name more than 3 search engines (no Lycos and Altavista no longer count). Search engines rank on content, and index the web constantly. They don’t want or need you to submit your site to them, and if they did, it would be free.


The trick with all these, is that they look legit, have a real internet sounding name, Under $99 and have an urgent call to action. Their goal, is that your business will have some accounts payable person just pay it and never question it. There are similar scams for all kids of business related things like copier toner.

If in doubt, google it, you will find tons of scam alerts on that that company name. They change names often, so always know who you actually do business with for this stuff. If you are big enough for an accounts payable department, have a policy that no new vendors get paid without approval, no matter what the cost.

Be safe out there, too many people are trying to make a buck anyway they can.