It’s not often that I feel compelled to have a rant, but today I really feel it’s necessary… I hope you see this as a warning, more than anything else!

There are some unscrupulous businesses out there. Some of these target the owners of domain names when it’s nearly time to renew the name, saying things like—and I quote—”Registering your name with us will ensure you retain exclusive rights to it on the web”.

Now I’m sure that’s true, just as it would be for any other company that deals with domain name registration. I’m not implying that they’d steal your domain name and hold it to ransom. Rather, it’s misleading. Your domain name would be perfectly safe just where it’s registered already, but these companies are trying to poach your business by making you feel scared you’ll lose your domain name if you don’t go with them.

These approaches usually come in the form of an email or, occasionally, as a letter in the post (my receiving one of these is what has prompted this article), and the correspondence is usually very professional and above-board looking.

So what’s the big problem?

There’s a possibility they’ll take your money and run, but normally these companies are able to register domain names. It’s still a bad idea to go with them, though:

How did they get my details!?

Your registry details are usually publicly available. This includes your contact details as well as expiry dates, etc. For a small yearly fee most domain name providers will remove your domain name from this register.

What does a genuine renewal notice look like?

If the renewal notice is from your domain name registration company, then it’s legitimate! Otherwise, ignore all approaches. To double check, log into your control panel and check your renewals – it’ll be obvious if it’s coming up and you can do it there and then, knowing that things will carry on just as they were.

Be vigilant

There are some dodgy companies out there trying to make a quick buck by conning people. Your domain name is one of your most valuable online business assets, so make sure you stay vigilant. If you have any doubts, contact your web designer and they’ll be able to keep you right. We’ve seen a lot of this kind of thing!