Hey! I just received unexpected invoice for a domain name registration. Who are these people and why did they send me an invoice to renew my domain name or buy another domain name? What’s going on?

(Related question: What is an internet domain? Why is it useful? How do I register an internet domain?)

In brief, it’s a scam.

The selling of domain names is a lucrative business propagated by aggressive entrepreneurs who value profit over the welfare of their customers. These entrepreneurs send out official-looking notices that warn domain owners to renew a domain registration or to purchase additional (and probably unnecessary) domain registrations. Domain Renewal Systems, Domain Recovery Group, and other companies (with similar, contrived names) bank on common fear: Will I lose my domain name? Should I purchase more domain names? Heavens, I had better send these strangers a check right away.

The solution to this problem is your own knowledge and careful record keeping. Know your domain registrar. Understand what an internet domain is and what a domain registration does for you. See What is an internet domain? for a brief discussion of internet domains.

You should know the answers to these questions: Who is your domain registrar? With what domain registrar have you registered your internet domain? When does your internet domain expire and what can you do to keep it from expiring?

If you do not know this information, please ask me. I can find out for you. I always help my clients to manage their internet domains.

You do not need to work with shadowy groups like Domain Renewal Systems or Domain Recovery Group. They are entrepreneurs who try aggressively to insert themselves as a middleman between you and your domain registrar. They bulk-mail official looking notices that look like invoices and warn against the grievous consequences of not renewing your internet domain right now. They attempt to take over the task of controlling your domain name, when this is a task that you can easily and inexpensively do for yourself.

Domain entrepreneurs will urge you to buy additional domains similar to your existing domain. For example, I own the domain ebwebwork.com, but I receive (by postal mail and email) repeated offers to sell me domains ebwebwork.net, ebwebwork.us, etc. — just in case people try to find my business at these addresses.

It’s nonsense. I advise you to resist marketing tactics that are based on fear. If someone tries to make you afraid, then that is bullying, and you should question and challenge the bully. Choose one domain name, attach your brand to it, and stick with it. Do not be distracted by permutations of your domain name — .us, .net, .org, .info, .com, etc. For example, my domain is ebwebwork.com, and I do not worry about .net, .org, or other extensions of my ebwebwork domain, no matter how many urgent notices I receive.

Counter spurious marketing with valid information and careful record keeping. Know who your registrar is. Make a careful note of your domain registrar, and of your username and password at your domain registrar. Keep this information confidential. Deal only with reputable registrars like hosting.com, dotster.com, and register.com.

As always, please ask me if you have questions about domain name registration or renewal.

Finally, before you send off a check to any business, make sure you know well the business with whom you are dealing, and that you have read all of the fine print on the invoice.

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