Now here’s a scam. I wish I thought of it. It’s gotta be a big moneymaker. A client of mine almost fell for it, but asked me first saving them $$$.
You probably realize that if you own a domain name for your web site, like gritzmacher.net, or microsoft.com, etc. you have to register it somewhere for it to work. I’m avoiding technical details here, because they don’t really matter for this discussion. And these domain registrations work for a period of time, then have to be renewed. Everyone has heard of stories where some big company somehow overlooked renewing their domain name, only to find it registered by someone else who eventually sells it back to them for big bucks.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone reminded you that your domain was about to expire and offer to handle it for you?
That’s what Domain Registry of America does. It might be a nice offer except for a couple things.
1. Your current domain registrar will probably notify you too. You may even have arrangements to automatically renew it.
2. DRA’s prices aren’t even close to competitve rates. They wanted $30 for ONE year. I pay $5.99. My hosting service throws in 5 for free. The biggest consumer domain registrar, GoDaddy has different deals depending on the TLD for prices from $.99 to $15.99. Most are less than $10.
Why would you want to pay more for someone new, who you don’t have any previous experience with, do the same thing your current registrar does already? Why would you want to deal with another company every time you needed to change your web hosting? You probably wouldn’t.
What they are doing is preying on those who aren’t knowledgeable about how this all works. They send the bill to the administrative address and hope it falls down to some clerk who pays what looks like a legitimate bill. They don’t realize DRA is not the current registrar. Next thing you know, it’s transferred over and DRA has the domain account at a premium price.
Fortunately, many registrars are aware of this practice and you can lock your domain to your current registrar. Changing to a different registrar than requires your authorization with the current one before a new one can take over the domain.
If you own your own domain, you should be aware of this practice and this company, which incidentally, has an office located here in Buffalo, and not be fooled by this tactic.
I’ve since discovered that DRA has offices in Canada and Europe and has been sued by the FTC over these practices. The current letters are very carefully worded to skirt the law and avoid being out-and-out illegal.
http://log.does-not-exist.org/archives/2004/04/01/1519_domain_registry_of_america_again.html (includes PDF of a typical letter)