Domain Registration Thieves Are At It Again!

December 4, 2009

domainthievesemail

I received this yesterday on one of our domains.  If one was just casually going through their email, it would seem like a standard renewal notice, enticing the domain name owner to go ahead and click to renew their domain name.  After all, you don’t want your domain name to expire right?

Problem is, these people aren’t the current registrar of the domain name.  We have it registered through our service, Flatfilehost Hosting, which utilizes Enom.  When you click through the link, it shows the renewal price at a whopping $79.95 per year!  This is a completely ridiculous price as you can register/renew .com domains in many places for $10/year or less. We charge $9.95/year.

This is a classic slamming method developed by long distance phone carriers years ago, and now used my some of these dishonest domain companies.  See our previous post on one of these domain registration scams.  The company I am writing about today is called ISP Renewal Domain Name Services.

If you had clicked through and paid their extortionist fees, and your domain name wasn’t locked at the current registrar, it would have been transferred to them.  Would you still be able to manage and control it? Maybe.  But you have to wonder, if they are willing to use dishonest tactics to get your business and an overinflated rate, then how honest are they going to be in all areas of their business.  You might well lose complete control over your domain name.

This is why it’s vitally important to enable the registrar lock wherever you have your domain name registered.  We do this by default for you at Flatfilehost Hosting.  You can always disable the lock if you ever want to transfer your domain to another register on your own.  By enabling the lock, a company like this ISP Renewal Domain Name Services would not be able steal control of your domain name.  You may be out the $79.95 fee, but you could always dispute that fee with your credit card company.

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November 29, 2009
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Your Domain Name has been Hijacked!

March 17, 2009

computer_thief

Did you know your domain name could potentially be hijacked and taken from you by your webhost?

I’ve had it happen to me in the past, as well as to a number of customers that have moved over to us from another host.  It’s very frustrating and makes you angry in the least, and in some cases could cause you to lose a domain name you have built a business on.  In fact, I am currently helping a customer that is having that exact issue.

In that case, the host has just become unresponsive over time, for support or other issues, and when they wanted to move, they won’t respond to necessary requests for needed information (such as the authorization key to transfer it away from them).

There could be many reasons this happens.  Perhaps the host is just shady, perhaps they got too big, too fast, and can’t handle all their support issues.  Perhaps they are one man operations and they got bored with it.  This happens quite a bit in cases of what is known in the industry as “kiddy hosts”.  These are usually teenagers that set up some sort of hosting service on a reseller account.  How many of you knew that was a common thing?

Having your domain name hijacked can usually only happen if  A) You registered your domain through your webhost B) The domain name registrar (or reseller of them) decided to go our of business or become unresponsive.

In the next post I will give some tips on how to try to prevent this from happening to you!

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Domain Name Registration Scam

February 22, 2009

One of the things that has been going on for a while in the Domain Name arena is a company that sends out postal mailings to renew your domain names.  The problem is, they aren’t the company you have currently registered your domain name with.

While I have called this a scam, I suppose it’s not a scam in the true sense of the word, assuming they actually provide the renewal services they offer, but the mailings are incredibly deceptive, and look like a bill to renew the owners domain name.   If the owner of the domain doesn’t read the letter carefully, and just sends in the payment, they get switched to a new provider when they didn’t intentionally do so.  In my opinion, they way these letters are presented are meant to do just that, deceive the owner of the domain in to switching to their service, at what is usually a much inflated cost over what the domain name owner is currently paying.  A similar thing took place several years ago in the telephone industry, and was subsequently made illegal.  This was known as slamming in the phone industry.

I have received a number of these mailing myself, being that I own quite a few domain names.  They come with different company names in the top of the letter, but they all are strikingly similar in format, and they all have a similar or even exactly the same return address in New York State. Some common names they use are Domain Registry of America, Liberty Names of America, and Domain Renewal Group.

The finer print does say “THIS IS NOT A BILL”, but it’s buried in so much other text you could easily scan over it. In fact, it’s not even bolded or in capitol letters like I just put it. They are even “nice” enough to offer to register other extensions of your domain name for you, at 4 to 5 times the price you can register it yourself through most places.

I’ve included 3 examples of these mailings here (blocking out certain info for privacy reasons).  If you receive any of these, my suggestion would be to throw them in the trash immediately.  While you can certainly renew or transfer your domain names to any provider you wish, it should be your choice on your own initiation, not a scam mailing like this trying to ambush you in to switching for a higher price.

At Flatfilehost Hosting, we will automatically renew your domain names for you (unless you set them to not auto-renew) and you can lock the domain name to prohibit unauthorized transfers.  In addition, you can also protect yourself from these sorts of things by adding an Identity Protection feature to your domain.  Most places you register your domain name now offer this extra service for a nominal fee.  These places that send out these scam emails get your contact information by harvesting the info from the whois information on domain names.  Identity protection features will prevent that.

We have actually had customers who received these scam mailings, thought they were from us, and paid them the money demanded.  Have you ever received one of these?  Comment and tell us your story!

EXAMPLES below  Click on them to see a large version:

domain registry of americas cam domain renewal group scam liberty names scam

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Selecting a Proper Domain Name

February 10, 2009

domainname
Before you pick out your domain name, there are some important considerations to consider.

1. Try to make your domain name match your website name.

This may seem obvious to some people, but you’ll find that not every website is named after the domain name even when the webmaster owns that domain name.

The reason this is important is that when people think of your website, they’ll think of it by its name. If your name is also your URL, they’ll automatically know where to go. An example would be, when people think of Flatfilehost Hosting, they don’t have to wonder what URL to type into their browser to get there. The name of the site is also the URL http://flatfilehost.com.

Suppose your business (or website) is called “Widgets”, but somebody else has that domain name. You instead have a domain name called, “mystuffforsale.com”. So what happens when your customers, recalling that Widgets has a product they want, type “www.widgets.com”? They’ll end up at your competitor’s website. Kiss that sale goodbye!

These days, people automatically turn to the Web for information. It’s important to have a domain name that reflects your site or business accurately. It just makes it easier for your customers or visitors to remember. You can’t really expect them to try to memorize an unrelated URL just because you want them to. The only people who’ll memorize it are you and your competitors who want to compare your prices.

So what do you do if the domain name you want isn’t available? It really depends on how you want that particular name. If you already have an existing brand name that people know you for, you’ll probably not want to ditch that name just because you couldn’t get the domain name. It took you a lot of time and money to establish that name. If this is the case, you might simply want to try to buy the domain name from the current owner. Check the “whois” information for the domain, and contact that person listed to see if they’re willing to sell it. They are likely to want to charge a higher fee than you’ll normally pay when buying new domains (assuming they will even sell it in the first place).

Of course, if you’re just starting out, you can go the cheaper route of getting the domain name first, and then branding your website (or business) after the domain that you’ve registered. So if you have registered the domain name “coolwidgets.com”, then your website and business might be named “Cool Widgets”. This isn’t the ideal route to go, but sometimes it’s a reality in today’s Internet world.

2. Generic or Brand Name Domain?

Some people seem to think that your domain name must be some generic name like “suv.com” if you are selling SUV’s.  For example, how much money those generic names are being sold for. But if you were really looking for an SUV, you would most likely already have some brand names in mind, and you would probably try out things like ford.com or hummer.com rather than just suv.com.

For that reason, it’s our opinion that a domain name that matches your brand name is very important. The name that you use to advertise your product is the same name that you will want for your domain, because that is the first thing that people will try to look up. It’s easiest for them to remember, and what is easily remembered, is more likely to be tried out than than something obscure.
3. Short or Long Domain Name?

Domain names can be of any length up to 67 characters. You don’t have to settle for an obscure domain name like wsam.com when what you mean is widgetsstuffandmore.com.

That being said, there is some disagreement about whether a short or long domain name is better.

One argument is that shorter domain names are easier to remember, easier to type and far less likely to have typos: for example, “getwidgets.com” is easier to remember and less prone to typos than “getsomewidgetsatmywebsite.com”.

Another arguement is that a longer domain name is usually easier on the human memory – for instance, “gacnw.com” is a sequence of unrelated letters that are hard to remember and type correctly, but if we expand it to its long form, “GetACheapNewWidget.com”, people are more likely to remember the domain name.

Some of these arguments actually make sense. It’s getting harder and harder to get short meaningful domain names. Most if not all 2 and 3 letter domain names are already taken, as are many two word combinations. If you somehow manage to get a short domain name though, it’s important to make sure it’s a meaningful combination of characters and not some obscure “gacnw.com” in the example above.

Long domain names that have your site keywords in them also have an advantage in that search engines seem to love them. The appear to give preference to keywords that are also found in your domain names.

4. Hyphenated Names or Names with Numbers?

Should you get a hyphenated name or name with a number? There are a few things to consider:

A) Disadvantage: It’s easy to forget the hyphens when typing a name. Most users aren’t used to it. They will probably leave out the hyphens and wind up at someone else’s site.

B) Disadvantage: When you tell people your website URL verbally, having hyphens or numbers in your domain name leads to more potential errors.  Did that contain a hyphen?  Was that “five” or “5″ in the domain name?  People won’t remember as easy.

C) Advantage: Search engines can distinguish your keywords better and thus return your site more prominently in search results for those keywords in your domain name.

D) Advantage: The non-hyphenated version may no longer be available. At least this way, you still get the domain name you want.

5. What extension? COM, ORG, NET, etc?

One common question we encounter is from people who can’t get the “.com” domain of their choice, but find the “.net”, “.org” or other country-specific top level domains (TLDs) available. Should they get these?

Generally speaking .com is the best.  The vast majority first thing of .com when they think of a website. This is even more true if you have a commercial website.  It you happen to have the .net or .org domain and someone else has the .com, many visitors intending to come to your website will end up on someone else’s.

However, if you are running a non profit site, you may want to go with .net .org, or even some of the newer .us .info or .tv domains.  If you take this route and promote a domain with one of those extensions, we still suggest you also obtain the .com version, or someone else will later and you will lose traffic to them.

Historically, .org was for organizations and .net was used for ISP’s and other similar types of network sites.  This is generally no always the case these days.

6. To wrap it up…

In case we lost you in there some place, let me restate the main point of this article: get that domain name before you start your site or business!

Don’t make the mistake of attempting to retrofit your domain name to your business or website. It’s a huge pain in the rear to go back and try to retrofit after the fact.
You will find some more domain name selection tips on our website:

http://flatfilehost.com/domain-names/domain-name-selection-tips.html

where you can also check and see if the domain name you want is available, and register it there!

Have questions about domain names? Post a comment and let us know!

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