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Don’t fall for bogus email offering search engine registration for your website

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Saturday, March 18, 2017, 12:20 p.m. — The email looked reasonably official and just ominous enough to get my attention. The subject line “Re: nelsoncountygazette.com expiration” was indeed worrisome.

scam_mainThe email stated this my Final Reminder of a “pending domain cancellation notice.” I was puzzled because the domain is set to automatically renew … how could it be canceled?

The simple answer is the domain name is up-to-date and in no danger of cancellation. The email is a scam that has been circulating from time to time for a number of years.

If you read the email closely, the sender is not making an offer to renew your domain name registration — despite the claim that it is just that. What they are trying to sell you is “search engine registration.”

Domain name registration is a legitimate service; search engine registration is not, and it is not the same as a service known as “SEO” — search engine optimization — which is aimed at getting your website higher visibility in search engine results.

The email gave me four days to pay for search engine registration “may result in the cancellation of this offer (making it difficult for your customers to locate you.”

The “service” they are trying to sell you isn’t cheap, either — one year is $75, two years – $135; three years, $280; and four years, $450.

One of the clues you are dealing with a scam is that there’s no name on the website. The link in the email goes to an invoice page that never mentions the name of a business. The only link on the page is an alleged “unsubscribe” link. The invoice is at least a secure webpage. Nice of the scammers to offer a secure webpage for its victims’ credit card information.

PROTECT YOUR CONTACT INFO. If you received a similar email solicitation, you may be wondering how the company got your information regarding ownership of your website name.

They mostly likely got that information directly from the domain name registry, which is a public record. When you register a domain name, your registration information is published for anyone to access. However, there’s a way to protect your registration details.

Most companies that register domain names also offer a service to protect the privacy of your contact information. This is nearly always an extra-cost feature; but if you want to keep contact information private, the fee is worth the cost. If you are interested in protecting your domain name contact details, contact the company with whom you registered your website domain name.

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