Domain Name Registration Scams

scam alert signsHave you received one or more emails like this:

Dear {your business domain name}:
We are Shanghai Chooke Network Information Technology Co.,Ltd,which is the domain name register center in China.I have something need to confirm with you.
We have received an application company named “Wanda (China) Investment Co.,Ltd” applies for the domain names(  etc.),and the Internet keyword(yourdomain) on the internet November 13,2010.We need to know the opinion of your company because the domain names and keyword may relate to the copyright of brand name on internet.  we would like to get the affirmation of your company,please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

There are a variety of these emails, typically coming from China, that urge you (in broken English) to contact them to protect your company’s domain. Unlike the infamous Nigerian inheritance email scams, the domain name emails do not offer an unbelievable windfall, but instead pressure you by threatening the theft of your domain name.

The wording of these emails suggests that the fault will lie directly with you, and that your brand, client base and revenue will be compromised if you do not correct this. But how can this be corrected?

By paying a monthly domain name registration protection fee, that’s how.

These scam emails are from phony Chinese domain name registration firms, and they scam you by frightening you into protecting yourself and your trade name by subscribing to their service. Do not be fooled. Instead, be careful when corresponding by email with unverified third parties regarding your domain name’s registration. It is very likely a scam.

In the past, many companies were victims of domain name theft, or cybersquatting, from people who tried to profit from the value of an existing domain name. Close variations of the domain name – or the exact name of a famous brand – would be purchased, and the purchaser would then try to sell the domain name back to the brand at an exorbitant rate. As a result, some companies are still nervous about the same thing happening again, and these domain name scammers are trying to profit from it.

Domain name protection is a legitimate concern, but paying an unidentified overseas body for protection is not only mafia-like, it is unnecessary. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was drafted to prevent co-opting of trademarks and domain names. Additionally, genuine domain name registrars have protocols in place for disputes that do not involve extracting payment from domain name holders.

Like the Nigerian email scams, once you are familiar with the pattern of the domain name scams, you will be able to identify them easily. Do not enter into a correspondence with these solicitors. Instead, if you are concerned about your domain name, contact your own hosting company for a resolution.