Is the Domain Listings Letter You Got in the Mail Legit?

Domain listings scam

Is the domain listings letter you got in the mail legit or a scam?

Recently I have had a couple of clients contact me about a letter that they received in the mail for $288 for domain listings and wondered if it was a scam or legit, and should they pay it.

At first glance, it’s not clear if it is an actual bill, fake invoice or a solicitation. They contacted Freelance Web Programmer because they receive website management services that include web hosting and domain management.

“I got a bill in the mail from a company out of Las Vegas, NV. It was for $288 for an annual renewal of the domain. I thought you set up our domain for us? Is this bill from the other company a scam?”

I knew right away what they were talking about because I to have also gotten this scammy looking letter in the mail. It looks like an invoice at first glance.

It is set up like an invoice/bill, but if you look closer, it is actually a solicitation to have your domain listed in a directory website – and not something you have purchased in the past.

Domain Listings vs Domain Registrar Renewals

A domain listing has nothing to do with your domain ownership or renewal, or your website showing up on the Internet.

A domain listing is simply an listing of your domain name in a web directory. The solicitors are selling a service to add your domain name to their web directory to advertise your website through them. They are selling you a service to include a listing of your website details in their website directory for one year. The service is similar to Yelp or Yellow pages.

Domain Registrars

Your domain name is purchased through a domain registrar. A domain registrar is a company that manages the reservation of domain names. Even though you own the domain name after registering it, they need to renewed annually with a fee to maintain ownership.  This means you need to buy a domain name, and then renew (aka re-register) it annually so your website continues to load when someone type the domain name into a web browser or clicks on a link to your site. If your domain name expires, your website will no longer appear online.  If someone else purchases your domain, they take control of it, you no longer own it, and their website will then load.

There are over 2,400 domain registrar companies. These are the largest in terms of how many domain names they hold. If you don’t know who your domain registrar is, there is a good chance, that your domain is held at one of these companies.

Largest Domain Registrar Companies Number of Domains Held
GoDaddy ~76 million
Namecheap ~14 million
Tucows ~11 million
Network Solutions ~6.8 million
Google Domains (which is now Squarespace) ~5.3 million
eNom ~4.8 million
United Domains ~4.4 million
1&1 IONOS ~3.5 million
Porkbun ~3.9 million
NameSilo ~3.2 million

How did they get my website and mailing address?

When you register your domain name, you are required to enter your company, name, address, email and phone. You can choose to privately register your domain name, often for an additional fee, or keep it public. If it is public, anyone can see your name. If you do not know if your domain name is public or not, you can do a whois domain lookup, or email me and I can look into it for you.

Is selling domain listings a scam?

No. Paid directory listings are a legit way to make money on the Internet.  People question if this invoice is a scam because of how it looks and the wording on it implies:

  • that is is an actual invoice
  • that it is an invoice for domain renewal

There is no scam in the sense that they are not stealing anything from you. It is not an invoice, but a solicitation.  If you sent them money thinking your were renewing your domain name, then you did not read the letter close enough, and they got one over on you. They did not steal your credit card information. The fact that you question the invoice in the first place makes it seem scammy though. Trust your instinct.

They are not taking your money and give you nothing in return. They are giving you a listing in their directory.  Is getting a domain listing for $288 for one year legit? Yes, if you choose to pay for it.  Is it a good value to get a return on the investment? That’s for you to decide.

My professional opinion is that there are better ways to invest that money into your website’s organic SEO. Getting your website listed for free in Google is a good start. (How you ask? Google will tell you – or hire me to optimize your website for Google).

So what do you do if you received mail for domain listings?

Protect your self by being proactive and doing the following:

  • Trust your “gut”. Why would an Internet based company be sending you a paper invoice in the mail?
  • Know who your domain registrar is and when your annual domain renewal date is. (Need help?)
  • There are multiple companies out there using similar tactics. Look the company up on the Better Business Bureau website. The invoice has a legitimate LLC company name, and address so you can easily search for them. (The invoices I have seen are located in Las Vegas)

You can decide for yourself based on feedback submitted by other people that received mail from the company. If you have sent them money, you can try to get a refund, explaining that you did not understand what the service was, and ask to be removed from their mailing list.

If you received a letter in the mail but have not done anything yet, simply throw it in the trash.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m just looking out for people’s best interest. I know the domain registration and renewal process is very confusing – especially if your skillset is not in the Internet industry.  Even many of the legit domain registration companies take advantage of  this and push all kinds of extra unneeded upgrade services on you renew your domain name. It can be overwhelming.

You may be wondering why my clients contact me about a bill from a company that has nothing to do with me.  Because I’m honest, and they trust me as a technical resource.

I have many long term clients that hire me for web consulting and website management services like web hosting and domain names, helping their small business websites thrive on the Internet.

 

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