We have all heard about the devastation in the Greater Houston, Texas area from Hurricane Harvey. Over the next days and weeks as the media focus begins to shift to helping people from Houston begin to recover from the disaster, I think we are going to hear about various scams and schemes that try to take advantage of the vulnerable as well as the generous.
Unfortunately, domain names are often the gateway to these scams. Some people register disaster related domain names to either sell them to others and some people also register disaster related domain names to try and scam others. PBS already published an article that mentioned domain names related to Hurricane Harvey being registered:
“On Wednesday, the government-funded Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center reported more than 500 domain names associated with Harvey had been registered over the preceding week. The majority of those names, the center reported, used words associated with philanthropy and aid, including “help,” ”relief,” ”donate” and “victims.””
Sadly, my bet is that this is just the start of domain name registrations like these, and many more domain names related to the storm and recovery will be registered – some by people whose intentions are bad. Many will be bought by people with good intentions though. In fact, Houston.com is being used for good right now, encouraging people to donate funds to the American Red Cross to help with the relief effort.
Perhaps serendipitously, the government of the City of Houston already owns one of the best domain names for the recovery effort that will surely follow: RebuildHouston.com. According to the ReBuildHouston.com website, “ReBuild Houston is the City of Houston’s initiative to improve the quality of life and mobility for residents of the city by rebuilding our drainage and street infrastructure.” Because of the hurricane and associated flooding, the focus of RebuildHouston.com may change a bit in the coming days.
ReBuildHouston.com was created back in 2011, and the registrant email has a @houstontx.gov email, confirming that it is owned by the City. Smartly, the City also owns the .net and .org domain name extensions as well.
As the city of Houston rebuilds, I think this domain name will come in handy. It is good to see that the domain name is owned by the City of Houston and not a third party.