A few days ago, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (WV) issued a warning to small business owners about a new scam that tries to trick people into paying more than they should for domain names that could be considered “relevant” to their business.
A business owner receives an email that appears to be from a foreign domain registration service. The message might say that another company (perhaps a competitor) is attempting to register the owner’s company business domain name in a foreign country. Then they offer that they can register the domain before the other company does. They prey on people who don’t understand enough about domains or domain registrars, and who’s mere thought of potentially losing their domain name (even if it’s in another country) is terrifying. The truth is that there is no “other” company, nor another competing business overseas trying to buy anything. The problem is that the scammer convinces the business owner to use their services to purchase the “desired” domain name and charges them a much higher price than it would cost to buy the domain themselves.
What to do
- Contact your webmaster if you’re not clear about domains, registrations, etc. They should be able to guide you in the right direction.
- If you conduct business overseas, you might want to buy the country-specific domain name of your website (some local requirements may apply depending on each country).
- Use one provider to register all your domain names (even for multiple businesses) and keep your passwords safe.
- Register your domains yourself. Don’t let your IT guy or your nephew or agency do the registration. The domain name of your company is YOUR asset.
- Pay attention to grammatical or spelling mistakes on emails, and if you’re suspicious, Google the sender’s name or even sections of the email by pasting a sentence or two right in the search box. You might find that others are receiving the same type of email.
- Check your domains periodically, say on your business anniversary or some easy-to-remember date, to ensure things are in order.
If you receive these types of emails, contact local law enformcent and the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338 or go to www.ftc.gov/idtheft