Let me amend that title: If you simply own a domain; you know, like “awesomestuff.com,” even if you haven’t built a website on it yet, watch out. You might get a bogus invoice in the mail one day from a company claiming you’re a customer. One of my clients got one this week:
Thank goodness my client is a smart cookie. Rather than just paying the bill, she took a shot of it and emailed it to me, asking, “Do I need to pay this?”
Since I’m her webmaster, I monitor not only the performance and security of her website, but her hosting account and her domain registration as well. And her domain is not registered through this bogus company.
Just for fun, I looked up DNS Services, Inc., located in Vancouver, Washington, to see if this was just a mistake or part of a larger scam. And scam it is. Yelp features 3 full screens of reviews that consistently say this company is sending out bogus bills. Wow. I wonder how much money they’ve collected from innocent people? The Better Business Bureau gives them a C+, which even at that poor rating sounds too good for them, but then the BBB is limited to rating companies based on complaints that are lodged with their service, and grade accordingly. If you’ve been ripped off by these folks, I urge you to register a complaint with the BBB so that they will lose even the pitiful C+ rating that they currently have. It sure seems that they deserve to be demoted to an “F.” Honestly, “DNS” should stand for “Do Not Send,” as in, Do Not Send them money when you receive their bullshit bill.
So you might be asking, how was this operation able to find out that my client owned her domain, and send her an invoice? Answer: they apparently spend their time looking up domain owners by going to a site such as WhoIs and searching for domain names that are not privately registered, i.e. domain listings that include the actual owner’s name and address. They scrape the information and send out a bill.
My client actually owns two domains: one that’s inactive (no website on it) and one that’s active, meaning she uses it for her website. The active domain is shielded by a privacy setting, for which she pays an extra fee to her domain registration company. The inactive domain is listed publicly. Thus, DNS Management was able to find her contact info for the inactive domain name.
Sigh. I guess it’s worth paying an extra fee to keep ownership of even inactive domains private. Such is the world today.
My advice to you: Look up each domain that you own on WhoIs, and determine if you are personally listed as the registrant. Here’s how: Click here to reach WhoIs, and enter your domain in the top window (not the area that says, “Get A Domain Name”).
Then scroll down your domain’s listing to see if your name and address are given as the owner. If so, you might want to contact your domain registration company and switch your ownership setting to “private.” It shouldn’t be an expensive change. The registration company that I use most often charges about $8 per year for a privacy setting.