Purchasing and renewing domain names for website clients are tasks I’ve been performing for over 10 years. Over those years I’ve seen many different types of Internet scams and suspicious marketing practices but one that’s persisted over the decade is the Domain Registry of Canada’s (DRoC) renewal/transfer letter.
The letter is sent via the post and arrives in a government-style envelope with a maple leaf logo, both not so subtle marketing strategies to lead the recipient to assume the DRoC is affiliated with the Canadian government. Upon opening the letter, readers will see, in large letters on the top of the page, “Domain Name Expiration Notice.”
Most people don’t realize that domain name companies do not contact you by post, they send renewal notifications via e-mail. What DRoC is sending is a solicitation letter, which attempts to get people to switch their domain names from their existing registrar to the DRoC.
The DRoC preys on people who may not have a thorough understanding of how the domain registration process works. If you receive this letter in the post my advice is to rip it up and throw it away. It’ll save you from purchasing an overpriced domain name and the headache of trying to get your money back from the DRoC.
Here are a few tips to keep your domain name secure:
- Check to see if your domain is up for renewal. You can check this by running a whois.com search on your domain name. As long as you haven’t paid extra for domain name security, you’ll be able to see who your domain is registered with. If the company name matches the company requesting the renewal then it’s safe to go ahead and renew the domain. You have until the date of expiry to renew your domain, although I’d advise renewing it earlier than that, just not six months in advance, which is what DRoC is requesting.
- Make sure your domain name is locked. Locking your domain name stops the domain from being transferred from the existing registrar. The transfer process requires the domain be unlocked and an authorization code provided to the new registrar.
- Have more than one person listed on the domain registry contact information. Having a secondary contact listed spreads out the correspondence. Listed as the technical support contact for a client, I intercepted an e-mail requesting their domain name be unlocked. Had I not received that e-mail, I never would have known my client had fallen for the DRoC scam.
- Hide your contact information. This is usually an extra charge, but it will stop marketers and other unwanted eyes from viewing your contact information.
- Read the small print. If you’re receiving correspondence from someone, are they requesting you renew or transfer your domain?
If you’re still unsure about that letter or e-mail you’ve received, contact your web developer or web hosting company to ensure the safety of your domain name.