Nothing, it seems, is sacred these days; not even your domain name – the name of the website you’ve sweated blood over – as you could easily fall prey to domain slammers.
What are domain slammers and how do you avoid them?
Domain slammers are scammers posing as your official registrar so that you sign over your domain name to them. Typically, slammers send you an email telling you your domain name is about to expire and that you must take urgent action to keep it. As you see the word “urgent”, you want to keep your name and you couldn’t really say when your expiration date is (but it’s around now…), you’ll pay the fee.
Unfortunately, completing this transaction transfers your domain to the scammers. You’re at their mercy – your website or email can be made to go offline at their whim or you may even lose the domain altogether. To add insult to injury, you’ve probably paid over the odds for this, too.
How slammers get your details
Unless you’ve paid for a private registration, then your web address, contact details and expiry date are publicly available. The slammers see that you need to renew soon and so send you an email.
What’s the point?
The aim is to get you to transfer your domain name to their registration so they can charge you higher fees than your genuine registrar and then, essentially, hold your domain to ransom.
How to spot a slammer notice
The slammer email will look as if it came from your real registrar and tells you that you need to renew your domain. However, many scam emails use phrases like “urgent renewal notice”, “failure to renew” and “your domain will expire” so that you pay the fee out of panic.
These scam notices also contain sneaky disclaimers to keep the slammers out of, well, the slammer. Look out for words like “offer” or “solicitation” as these can be pointed out by the scammers when they are faced with legal action.
It’s safest to ignore a message if you’re not sure it’s genuine
If you’re not 100% sure the email is from your real registrar then ignore it – your genuine registrar won’t just let your domain expire without warning.
It’s easy to find out who your registrar is
After all, the slammers have just done it! Search through the WhoIs database for your domain name to see who your registrar is and when your renewal date is.
Renewing your domain name safely
Most registrars offer automatic renewal and they’ll send you a notice before they take payment and an invoice afterwards – you won’t be asked to do anything. If you prefer to make the renewal yourself, log into your registrar and pay the fee before your expiration date. Genuine registrars don’t send urgent emails days before your renewal date so there’s no sense of panic.
You can also pay for a few years in advance
Extending your domain registration for five or even ten years is a good way to weed out scammers. If you know you’re paid up until 2028 then tha`t email telling you your domain won’t exist unless you pay your fee next weekcan go straight to Scamwatch, where it belongs.