Protect Your Web Address Like Your Social Security Number!
I have covered this topic in the past, but every so often a client will forward an email to us in a panic thinking their web address is about to expire due to an email or fax they received. I’m sure you’ve seen these emails before. They are easy to spot: lots of capital letters; scary phrases like “FINAL NOTICE” in the subject line of the email. Click the image at right to see is a sample email one of our clients recently forwarded to us. (Note they are charging $75 for one year!! If you manage a domain yourself, a basic domain renewal should only cost between $10-15 annually.) Unique identifiers have been removed to protect our client… and to prevent this company from sending us a cease and desist letter for exposing their tomfoolery. If you read the fine print on this “notice”, you will see this solicitor advertises a Yahoo email address to contact them. This is a huge red flag–legitimate businesses typically do not use Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or other “free” email accounts.
Here are a few simple tips to keep your domain name safe:
1) Know where your domain is registered!
I can’t believe the number of people who don’t know who their registrar is. If you don’t know your registrar is Network Solutions (or GoDaddy, etc.) how can you protect yourself when you receive an email from the “Domain Renewers of America” prompting you to renew your web address with them?
2) Purchase Private Domain Registration.
If you manage your own domain and you did not purchase Private Domain Registration, all your account information is public for the world to see. That includes the home/business address listed on your account, your home/business phone #, your fax #, your cell #, your email address…. any of the information on your profile is public unless you purchased an additional service to protect your privacy. This is why it so easy for scammers to target you. If your “WhoIs” information is not private, anyone can see where your domain is registered and when it expires and contact you by email, phone, fax and snail mail.
Not sure if your information is private? Use any registrar website to search for your web address and see what information is public to the world. For example, here you can search the GoDaddy website.
3) Practice safe email etiquette.
Even if you receive an email you believe to be legitimate, you should never click a link in an email to go log into an account. Read the email, and if you believe it is legitimate open your web browser and go to the website and login to see if the message is legitimate or not. If you’re still not sure, call the customer support # listed on your registrar’s website and ask for assistance.
Once you lose your domain name, it can be very difficult (sometimes impossible) to get it back. Think about the expense of changing your web address on your business cards, letterhead, email signatures, fleet vehicles, and anywhere else you have it plastered. Next you will need to notify all your customers, vendors and strategic partners that your email addresses have changed. Then factor in the fact that all the history and trust you have generated with the search engines will be wiped out and your company will fall off the search engine results.
It’s not difficult or expensive to protect your domain name, so use these preventative tips to protect yourself!