There’s a nice post over on the Tucows blog warning about fake domain name renewal notices. Tucows is a wholesale domain name registrar, so the advice is aimed mainly at other domain registration companies, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

Fake renewal notices are basically a variation on the phishing schemes you might have seen before. In short, unethical companies (some would use a stronger word than ‘unethical’) try and con people into transferring their domain name(s) to them.

This is how it usually works:

  1. The dodgy company gets a registrant’s information and domain expiry date from the WHOIS database.
  2. They then contact the registrant with a fake email telling them they need to renew the domain or risk losing it.
  3. When the registrant follows the instructions in the email, they end up transferring, not renewing, the domain.

If you get conned, you can end up stuck at a new domain registrar, potentially locked into unfavourable terms or unable to administer the domain as you need to. In some cases people have even lost domains altogether.

But I don’t want to overstate the risks. The chances of being targeted are generally quite small, and here at 123-reg we provide several ways to thwart the transfer thieves:

  • Hide your details. With many domains, (like .co.uk), you can opt to remove your personal details from the WHOIS database. Take advantage of this. If they can’t see your details, they can’t contact you. You can find out how to do this on the 123-reg support site (scroll down to the Whois opt out heading).
  • Keep your domain locked. A locked domain can’t be transferred. If your domain is registered with 123-reg, you can lock and unlock it from within your 123-reg control panel.
  • Use auto-renewal. By default, we’ll renew your domain name automatically unless you ask us not to. You just have to make sure the credit or debit card details we have stored for you are up-to-date. If you do this, you’ll know that you don’t have to do anything else to renew your domain name. To check your card details, log in to your 123-reg control panel and scroll down to Update credit card details.
  • Remember that you can control every aspect of your domain names through your 123-reg control panel. So if you get sent some instructions which tell you to go somewhere else to renew, they’re almost certainly dodgy.

You can find help with all these things on our support site.

Has anyone ever tried to pull a renewal scam on you? Leave a comment here and let us know.

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5 Responses

  • seo by seo

    If I have a domain registered and login with another provider and then transfer to 123 is there a lapse period from when you actually recieve it and they let it go.

    February 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm
  • John

    There’s no period of ‘limbo’; your domain is always held by either the company you’re transferring it away from, or the company you’re transferring it to. It’s not like when you move money between bank accounts and it disappears for a few days before reappearing in the other account.

    When you transfer a domain to 123-reg, you’ll find it shows up in your control panel as ‘pending’ as soon as you initiate the transfer. But until it says it’s completed, the domain itself will still be with your old domain company.

    Also, once the changeover has happened, it can take a little while for the various servers which hold this information to pick up on the change and update their databases accordingly.

    You can read more about transfers on our support site. (You’ll need to log in with your 123-reg username and password to see the article.)

    February 15, 2008 at 6:17 pm
  • Tony MacDonnell

    We received a domain renewal notice from Domain Renewal Group. We are not registered with them but with 123. The address given is Gloucester Road London. The notice which looks very official aslo offers a purchase of different extension versions of our domain.

    Blatant scam. Please be warned.

    January 23, 2009 at 2:46 pm
  • Alan

    Also just received a letter from Domain Renewal Group even though Im registered with 123 (which is why Im here looking for info in the help section!) glad to know its a scam

    June 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm
  • Tim

    Glad we were able to put your mind at rest Alan.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm