Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Businesses Need To Stay Aware of Domain Name Scams

We recently received an email from a Chinese domain registry company, warning us that someone was applying to register a set of domain names based on our company name. It is not the first time we have received such an email, so I figured a warning to other businesses may be a good thing.

According to these messages, the company contacting you is trying to "warn" you that someone else is trying to claim your trademark, brand or domain. They give you a limited amount of time to reply, and warn that if you don't you are at risk of losing your rights to your name. It sounds so very official and scary, right?

The letter that businesses are receiving reads something like this (or variation of this):
Dear Manager,
 (If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO)
We are a Network Solutions Service Company which is the Inernet Brand and domain name registration in China. Here we have something to confirm with you. We received a formal application on 11/08/2013. A company named "THD Import & Export Co. Ltd" was applying to register "yourdomain" as its Brand name and the following domain names:

yourdomain.asia
yourdomain.cn
yourdomain.com.cnyourdomain.com.twyourdomain.hkyourdomain.net.cnyourdomain.org.cn
yourdomain.tw

After our initial checking, we found the names were similar to your company's, so we need to check with you whether "THD Import & Export Co. Ltd" has any relationship with you and whether the registration of the listed domains by "THD Import & Export Co. Ltd" would bring any impact on you. If no impact on you, we will go on with the registration at once. If you have no relationship with that company and the registration would bring some impact on you, please inform us within 10 workdays.Out of the time prescribed we will unconditionally finish the registration for "THD Import & Export Co. Ltd"
Please contact us in time in order that we can handle this issue better.

Best Regards,

Daniel Chang
Auditing Department.
Registration Department Manager
Business owners, be aware that the claims in letters such as this are lies designed to coerce you into registering a series of domain names at prices that have been inflated by this company, so you can "secure" your rights to your company's name and brand.

In reality, these companies have, in all likelihood, not received any such application. They are sending these emails out to thousands of different website owners, replacing the area that says "your domain" with your actual domain, in hopes that some people will take the bait and purchase the domain names in question, at their outrageous prices, to keep their brand "safe."

If you receive one of these scam emails, it is best just to hit the delete button and not follow any of the links to reply back to the original sender.

If you reply, some versions of the email will have an "agent" contact you with instructions on how to pay the registration fees for the domains you wish to "secure," and other versions will direct you to a link where you are requested to pay immediately. Either way you are handing your credit card information over to someone you didn't contact directly. A big no-no in security terms.

On the flip side, if a legitimate third party does try to register a domain name that is similar to yours, for example the ".net" version of your ".com" domain name, it is highly unlikely that the registrar will contact you to let you know first. From a business perspective, if you want to keep your "name" safe, it is never a bad idea to go ahead and register all the common versions of your name, such as ".net", ".com", ".biz", ".co", ".info", etc. That way you maintain control of your brand and no one else can try to capitalize on your good name.

You can get additional information about domain name scams by clicking here.
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