It’s no secret that the internet is full of scammers and when it comes to domain names you will find scammers everywhere. This article intends to warn the business owner and others who own domain names of a well exploited scam.
You may have registered a domain name that is precious to you, matches your business name, or product or service name, and worked hard to create a wonderful website that you are very proud of. This website then becomes a huge asset for your business and in most cases these days it is an integral part of business operations.
When you register a domain though, it’s wise to think of it as it is being “leant” to you for your use for the period of registration. The fact is you never actually own it, instead you have paid for the right to use it.
Like many business owners, you are probably very busy and pay the little to no thought to your domain name and its registration. This opens up a trap which is what many scammers are exploiting.
At some point, your domain name can expire if you do not register it prior to the expiry date. Should you forget to renew it, in Australia for .com.au domains, you have one month grace period (officially known as the expiry period) to renew the domain before it becomes available to everyone else. Other domains such as .com’s have up to 75 days renewal period however services most likely will cease to function, i.e. the website and email services won’t work.
The problem then becomes if it expires, scammers are watching these domains that expire and if they determine a domain name could be valuable to someone, they will snap it up straight away. This is known as “cybersquatting”.
After they have completed the purchase, they will send an email to the previous registrant offering to sell it to them for an outrageous some of money – often over or near $1000 which is a huge markup for the $12-$20 they may have paid for it.
Unfortunately, in this situation there is not much you can do. You’ll need to decide if buying back the domain name is worth the asking price or if you can continue without it.
It is a terrible situation and can have a major impact on a business. If your domain name is super critical to you and the functioning of your business, you should consider registering a trademark for that name which will help you in any disputes about domain name ownership should they arise.
The easiest way to prevent this from happening is by renewing your domain name on or before its expiry date. No one else can touch while you have the rights to that domain. Most domain registers will send out multiple emails to remind you to renew before it expires. Don’t ignore these emails and put the expiry date in your calendar.