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(Another) Domain Renewal Scam Alert

September 26, 2014

Another - and rather tenacious - domain registration renewal scam has popped up; ready to trap unwary registrants.

As we've mentioned in the past, the most common renewal scam is one where the renewal is actually a transfer to another registrar. In the latest one to surface; the 'renewal' isn't even that.

According to DomainNameWire, the email subject states the domain name belonging to the registrant, plus the word "expiration". It's relatively easy for parties to gather this kind of information using WHOIS; which queries public records to identify who owns a name and how to contact the registrant. 

The contents of the email advise the renewal fee is just a few dollars; making the offer rather tempting. A link in the email leads to a site that mimics the design of ICANN - the  Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This is another giveaway that it's a scam as ICANN does not deal with domain registration; however, many registrants may not be aware of this.

Once on the site, the target is again lured with the offer of very cheap renewal prices. It appears it's just a ploy to extract a few dollars from each victim, or more disturbingly, credit card details - which can then be used to carry out fraud on a much more devastating scale. 

The party/ies involved are so far using misspelling of the term "domain registration" in the URL of the site the ruse is being launched from. As one name is shut down, the scammer/s are simply registering new misspellings and resuming their activities.

At present it appears the scam is primarily affecting .COM registrants.

Registrants should be extremely cautious when they receive renewal notices and determine if the communication actually comes from their chosen registrar in order to prevent unauthorised transfer or worse. If you're unsure about a renewal notice you've received; contact your registrar directly to confirm authenticity.

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