Domain Name Pitfalls and Scams to Avoid

Last Update: May 20, 2014

I realized today that with all the domain name questions here at WA , about how to buy and transfer them, that there was another area that needs to be touched on. Many here being new at the business (and even some of us older ones) could be fair game for the pitfalls and scams that abound around domain names.

Buying a name.
Buying a name can be a straight forward process, but here are a few guidelines. Reputation of the Domain Registrar. Don't go with someone just because they are the cheapest. Check for customer reviews and rip off reports.

Another thing to watch out for when trying to save money is the, "we will provide a 'FREE' domain name if you sign up for hosting". If you are considering this, be sure to check who will actually own the domain name.

It would suck to build a website, get traffic flowing, have a brand established and then learn you do not own that name. I have seen rip off reports of people losing what they thought was their own domain name. That or either having to pay an outrageous fee to renew the hosting and domain name, or charged prices of up to $250.00 to transfer the name to another Domain Registrar. It is simpler to check the details going in then to have to pay for the oversight later.

After the purchase is finished.
Know the name of your Domain Registrar and make sure if it is them that you are receiving emails or snail mail from.

When you have bought your name, you may get an email or snail mail later about how you are going to lose your domain name because someone is trying to register another Top Level Domain (TLD) with a name which coincides with your name.

They will explain how they are so nice to hold that transaction so that you can purchase those TLD yourself. usually at 2-3 times the normal price. In reality you cannot lose YOUR name, even if someone does register one of the other TLD. Even if you wanted to buy one of the other TLD, check with your registrar first. Most likely you will find it available for a much better price then the other company wanted for it.

Use, repeat, use, your domain lock. I have not seen it as prevalent as in the past. but there are unethical company's that will file a false transfer request, and if you are not careful you may end up clicking the wrong link in an email and then you have a new registrar, which is glad to charge you an inflated fee your your business.

Along with that there is fake domain renewal invoices. What they are are domain transfer requests that are made to look like they are a renewal notice. They may state that your name is about to expire and you may lose it, and ask you to complete the renewal process.

In reality it is transferring your domain to their registrar and usually at least twice the price or more for the same service. You will then be locked in for at least 2-4 months before you can transfer again. Also if you desire to transfer do it at least 90 days before your domain is due to expire. If you have to pay your new registrar for a renewal to get it transferred, the time will be added on to your existing time, so you do not lose any time paid for.

Selling Your Domain name.
When and if you decide to sell a Domain, NEVER let the buyer use PayPal to pay. Use an established escrow service for selling domain names. The reason is that once you provide the domains Auth code, they can transfer the domain and once it is transferred you may find that payment did not go through as there was an unauthorized credit card used for the transaction. That or the payment is disputed as not theirs. You will be out the money and the domain.

As a side note.
When doing business on the internet, I have found it handy to make use of screenshots. I take them of Splash Pages, Terms of Service, e-mails if needed, service desk tickets, and any agreements within a website that may be in addition to the TOS. Reason being that you never know how a business deal may go, or if it will fall through. I had an incident where things had gone bad, and I had requested a refund for the balance of my year with them. I was told that their TOS stated refunds had to be requested within 30 days. I looked at their TOS and it had been changed since I had made my agreement, and I found 3 areas where they had violated their own TOS in their dealings with me.

I just kindly mentioned that if they wanted to go by their TOS then they would not mind my going to the business forums I am a member of and posting my screenshots of my emails and their responses, service tickets and the TOS showing where they were in violation. I was informed within 24 hours that I was being given a total refund for all services from the date of my account creation.

Then they wanted to know if I wanted a free year of service with them to make amends lol. I was just happy to get my money back and be on my way. My refund from that company is what payed my yearly membership here at WA so I am very glad I received it.

In all I hope that this does not scare anyone off, but rather helps you to be aware so that you are not scammed in the future.

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KatieMac Premium
Good post I have gone with namecheap so hoping it is ok cannot not see Kyle pointing us in a direction that would be a problem,, thanks for sharing
geney33 Premium
Hi Kyle It sounds like good advice from Drawshot but is our domain names from Name Cheap safe from these Domain pitfalls. Gilles
Drawshot Premium
I'm not Kyle ;) but I can tell you that Name Cheap is ok. Just watch out for the email and snail mail scams trying to get your domains away from Name Cheap.
nomda ploom Premium
seriously good advice
Getwealthy77 Premium
Thank you Drawshot, I can't believe how much there is to learn !!!
bonnie2512 Premium
This is a very helpful blog post because I didn't think of many of these incidents happening. You opened my eyes, so now I have to leave to make sure everything listed is in order.

Thank you!