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I'm talking about a scam aimed at every person who has registered a domain name.

Every Web site needs a domain name, such as And each domain name must be registered with a domain registrar. The registrar makes sure that the domain is properly placed in the central Internet databases so that the Web site for the domain is accessible from the Web.

If you do not have a domain name, you can skip this article.

If you have registered a domain name, you know that you must renew that domain name every year. That is, you pay a fee to the domain registrar so that you can continue using the domain. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it?

It is straightforward, but domain registrars are businesses, and many of those domain registrars are marketing far too aggressively. The unscrupulous registrars are attempting to trick domain owners into transferring their domains from their old registrar to the unscrupulous registrar. The unscrupulous registrars do this by sending renewal letters to owners of domains due for renewal, even when the domains are not registered with them.

Although it is appropriate when my domain registrar reminds me to pay my fee, it is not appropriate when a different registrar "reminds" me to pay for my domain renewal. If I pay a new registrar, the act of paying will start the process of transferring my domain to the new registrar.

I'm receiving these inappropriate notices for my domain names. My clients are receiving these notices and most are asking me whether the notices are important. More worrisome are the clients who don't ask me and simply pay the aggressive registrar. The domain will be moved and the next time we need to make a change, the entire process will be more complicated. Here we have companies resorting to underhanded tactics to make money, leaving domain name owners confused, paying more than necessary, and facing complications in their domain name dealings in the future.

Even the largest of the registrars, VeriSign, is preying on the public by sending renewal letters to owners of domains registered at different registrars. These aren't letters stating that VeriSign has better service. Rather, the letters are written to look like a proper invoice.

What should you do now? Be sure that you know the name of your registrar. To see the registrar name and your renewal date, you can search on your domain name at Then when you receive a renewal invoice, pay the invoice only if it comes from your own registrar. Throw out all bogus renewal invoices.

~ Virginia Lawrence is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online.  Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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