If you’re the listed contact on your domain registration, you’re going to face scammers. They’re hoping you’re a bit nervous and uncertain about what it means to have your domain name registered. After all, it can be confusing to people if they don’t spend a lot of time working with the Web (like we do here at Square Bear Studio). And so these vultures prey upon the fear that somehow, somewhere, you’ve missed something and are going to suffer for it.

I received a doozy today, titled “Domain Service Notice”. As with all such scams they reveal themselves quickly if you read them calmly. But the veiled threats (you’ll lose exclusive rights, your time is running out, people may have trouble finding your site unless…) are there to keep you from reading calmly. After all, they make sure to underline the following: “Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.” Let me assure you that it may also cause pigs to fly. Oh dear, they’re going to cancel their offer to scam me?

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I knew immediately that this one was a scam because it ended up in my very clever spam trap. But beyond that, there were a ton of clues:

  • This didn’t originate with my domain registrar (you should know who your registrar is, after all you paid them to register the domain for you).
  • There is no company name listed.
  • There is no contact email address, simply an email address in the small print for opting out (never do this with spam, you’re just letting them know they have a live one on the line).
  • Fax-only reply? What is this, 1986?
  • It’s a “final notice” even though I’ve never heard from them before.
  • The deadline is today! Goodness gracious, there’s no time to lose…
  • They want money. Asking for money or personal information should ALWAYS be a red flag when you receive a mystery email.
  • Though you don’t see it here, it originates from a Hotmail address. No offense to those of you with Hotmail, but it seems to be the go-to for people trying to scam you by email.
  • Most importantly: they never say exactly what it is you’re gonna get for your money. Most likely the most work they’d do is process your payment.

These guys are pretty careful, too. They don’t want you to send any payment details. After all, they don’t want to be caught taking payment through this method. And in the small print, they make it clear that if you accept you don’t hold them liable for anything. In this case, I’m sure it’s holding them liable for actually doing anything for you. Instead, they get you to create a relationship by contacting them. Then they bill you.

Don’t let them get that far. If you’re uncertain, contact the company you are actually registered with.

You can read about another scam to watch for here.