June 18, 2019
Beware of Fake Invoices for Your Website Domain Name
Churches need to be aware of two Domain Name notifications you might receive in your mailbox involving some official-looking "invoices" that aren't really bills at all. So here's the rundown of what to know:
You get a piece of paper in your mail that says "Notice," "Bill," "Service," or "Invoice." What's really happening? Someone wants you to mistakenly pay for a service that you never ordered from a different domain registrar or you don't realize that their service is not required.
So far there are two different versions:
1) Your Domain Name is about to "expire"
Looks pretty official, right? Except if you read the entire "Notice," especially the three areas circled in red. Seems odd that they have to state that you're "not obligated to renew" with them, that the "notice is not a bill" despite it looking like one, and they're making it easy "should you decide to switch your domain name registration." That's because they're not your domain registrar; they're trying to get you to change to them and usually their price is considerably higher than what you're currently paying.
We've talked before about the importance of not letting your website domain name expire. But most known domain registrars (GoDaddy, Name.com, etc.) do NOT sent you a paper invoice. They will send an email to you ahead of time 30-60 days from your expiration date. Note that this paper "notice" is conveniently wanting you to change to the new registrar earlier than when your current domain registrar will alert you.
2) You need to pay for a "Website Listing Service"
Yet another paper in the mail that looks a lot like an official bill. But it's really an advertisement for a service that, in our opinion, is not necessary. Check out the area circled in red. "Domain name submissions to the leading search engines." Huh? Your website and domain name are already listed for free by the major search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), no submission required.
"Domain name listed...on high traffic websites." Why would you need that when the major search engines can already find you? "Submission to social media sites." If your church already has a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, what use would this additional "submission" be?
Neither of these "notices" or "services" are required. You do not have to use them.
What you can do?
- Be familiar with the name of your current domain registrar (you can check this here; while you're there make sure your email contact info is up to date!) and make a note of when it does legitimately expire.
- Look for an email notice from your current registrar.
- Read all the way through mailed documents like this; if they keep having to state it's "not a bill" and "if you decide to switch," then it sounds like you're not doing business with them in the first place.
- Find out the names of the search engines, "high-traffic websites," or social media submissions that a "listing service" say they will provide.