The Better Business Bureau published a “Scam Alert” warning related to domain names. Specifically, the BBB warns businesses that there are companies looking to get business owners to unnecessarily register expensive ccTLD domain names with their brand name or keyword. The emails are typically sent from domain registrars or others under the guise of a trademark or brand warning.
Emails like this have been making the rounds for quite some time, and they probably have a decent success rate because they can appear to be legitimate warnings. I don’t know if it really qualifies as a “scam” per se, but it’s definitely annoying to receive these emails, and businesses should know to be on the lookout for them and avoid the hefty cost of registering a bunch of unnecessary and sometimes expensive ccTLD domain names.
According to the BBB, here’s how the scam works:
“You receive an email addressed to the owner of your company. It appears to be from an Asian domain registration service. The email says that a third party company has requested to register your business’s brand name as a website domain in China or elsewhere in Asia.
According to the email, the “domain registrar” realized your company owns that brand name. And they decided to do you a favor and offer to register the domain for you instead of this other company.
The catch? There is no competing business, and the price to purchase the domain is much higher than you would pay elsewhere. Often, the email sender isn’t even an actual domain registration business. He/she simply purchases the domain elsewhere for a few dollars and immediately sells it back to the victim for an inflated price. “
If you own domain names, you’ve probably received an email from what appears to be an overseas registrar giving you a warning about someone trying to register your keyword in various ccTLDs. I wrote about this spam / scam tactic a few years ago with a sample email, and it does not appear to have abated since then.
I would not be surprised to see similar emails from companies attempting to sell the new gTLD domain names. In fact, I have heard about registrars sending emails to clients imploring them to protect their brands by buying their keyword or trademark in a new gTLD. Personally, I think that tactic is far more spammy than scammy.
The BBB Scam Alert offers some good tips to business owners, and domain advisors would be wise to heed their advice as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to read about the BBB offering advice regarding the new domain names.