I get an email or phone call from a nervous friend, entrepreneur or small business owner every once in a while telling me they’ve received a notice that someone is trying to register their trademark or company name as a domain name. “What should I do about this?” I get asked in a panic.
Anyone who has registered a domain name has probably received one of these notices before.
These notices typically appear in two forms:
The scare tactic
Sender: Usually a foreign entity, more recently Asia and Europe. Some of these happen to be domain registrars; others don’t appear to be a valid company at all.
Method: Typically by email.
Message: “We have received an application for a domain name which is similar to one you own or is one of your trademarks. So we thought we would let you know so you have the first chance to register it through our company, before someone else gets their hands on it”.
Purpose: A clever marketing ploy using a scare tactic to fool you into registering domain names.
The transfer notice disguised as an invoice from a domain registry
Sender: Private companies named “The Domain Registry of…” a certain country.
Method: Typically by post. The letter looks like an official invoice from an official department of the government.
Message: “Renew your domain registration or it will expire in the near future. It’s easy, just fill out the term of renewal, your billing information and sign it.” The catch is that this deceptive “renewal form” is actually an unsolicited domain name transfer agreement that can result in the transfer of your domain away from your registrar of record to a registrar that engages in deceitful business practices.
Purpose: A practice called “Domain Slamming” that attempts to trick domain name registrants into transferring their domain(s) to a different registrar.
Tips on how to protect yourself against domain slamming
- Read the fine print – when you receive any notification, make sure you read it carefully. Make sure you aren’t transferring your brands or intellectual property to somewhere you don’t want it to be.
- Do your research – Does the company you are receiving the notice from exist? Are they a legitimate company? A good place to start your research is Companies House.
- Check the WHOIS record of the domain – Do you know who your current registrar is for your existing domains? If you receive a renewal notice for your domain, check your domain against the WHOIS system.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions relating to your domain.