Phishing Alert: Domain Name Renewal Scams

By: Julian Wong

Web Security

23 Sep 2022

Phishing scams have been on the rise here in Singapore. However, while we know how to avoid bank-related phishing scams and spoofed messages, there is one that continues to terrorise the digital world—the domain name renewal scam.

What is a Domain Name Renewal Scam?

What is a Domain Name Renewal Scam?

The domain name scam relies on your business not checking invoices carefully. Domain name renewal scammers primarily target website owners who own one or more domain names. They contact the website owner, pretending to be from a domain name registry company or a web hosting company. They inform the victim that their domain name is expiring and that they need to pay to renew it immediately. The unsuspecting victim, unaware of their renewal date, assumes it is actually time for renewal and proceeds to make payment. However, when they make payment, their payment details have already been made known to the scammer, who proceeds to empty out their bank account.

Things to Look Out for in Domain Name Renewal Scams

Things to Look Out for in Domain Name Renewal Scams

Falling for domain name renewal scams can be costly, hence it is important to know what to look out for:

  1. The renewal notice appears out of the blue
    Domain name renewal scam emails do not follow a routine. Scammers are mostly unaware of your domain’s renewal date and send these phishing emails blindly. Hence, it is important to be aware of the domain renewal dates for your website(s).
  2. The Sender
    Checking the sender’s name can be a telltale sign if the email has malicious intent. If it appears to be from a different ‘company’ that registered the domain name, it is likely that you have received a phishing email.
  3. Email Body
    Along with the sender’s identity, the email body is equally important. Reputable companies would never use strong language like “take action immediately or lose your domain forever!” Or have poorly written and punctuated emails.
  4. Suspicious Links
    While URLs that end with a random string of characters may be obviously suspicious, some scammers have changed their approach. They use of link shortening services like bit.ly to make their links appear legitimate. They may also hyperlink the text in their email to hide the link destination. As a rule of thumb, you should never click on any link in your email. If you feel the need to visit your hosting provider’s website, it is much safer to manually enter the link into your address bar!

How do I Check My Domain Expiry Date?

How do I Check My Domain Expiry Date?

Being aware of your domain’s expiration date is the easiest way to filter out scam emails that appear out of nowhere. Simply keeping track of the renewal date in a calendar can eliminate second-guessing, and a cross-check when you receive such emails would give you the confidence to know that you do not have to “pay immediately” as they claim.

  1. Contact Your Website Developer
    If your website is designed professionally by an agency, like Verz Design, we would have registered your domain for you. Contact your developer to confirm your domain expiry date and avoid falling for the domain name renewal scam.
  2. Domain name expiry checkerUse a Domain Name Expiry Checker
    One tool you can use to check your domain name export is whatsmydns.net. Simply enter your domain name into the search bar, and it will calculate how long before your domain name expires.

If your domain name expires, it goes into a redemption period that lasts from 10 to 40 days. If it is not renewed within this time frame, it will be released to the public, and you cannot guarantee its retrieval. Getting the domain back may also incur additional fees.

Options to Renew Domain Name

Options to Renew Domain Name

Once you have ascertained the need to renew your domain name, there are six different methods you can use:

  1. Automatic renewal
  2. Manual renewal
  3. Renewal through a registrar, which is a business that handles the reservation of domain names
  4. Third-party renewal through a provider like GoDaddy
  5. Renewal through an auction site that facilitates the buying and selling of domain names that are currently registered
  6. Renewal through a drop-catcher, also known as domain sniping where a domain name is registered immediately after its registration has lapsed.

Benefits of Domain Renewal

Benefits of Domain Renewal

Aside from avoiding additional fees and hassle, there are many benefits to renewing your domain name. Renewal can social-proof your business by showing your customers that your site is running and your brand is still doing well. The retention of the domain name also ensures that you own your web presence and your competitors cannot take it up for their use. Lastly, domain renewal allows you to safeguard and secure your website from attacks and cyber criminals who may attempt to hack into it.

Practise Good Digital Hygiene

Practise for good hygiene

When using the internet and accessing emails, having good digital hygiene can remove you from the crosshairs of scammers.

Below are some digital hygiene tips to protect yourself against scammers:

  1. Never respond to anything that asks for your personal information
    If an email requests your personal information, there is a high likelihood that the information you provide may be compromised.
  2. Never open attachments or links from unfamiliar email addresses
    If you receive an email for a sender that you do not recognise, never click on any links or attachments. You could expose your device to malware that can steal your sensitive data.
  3. Update your operating system and software
    Keeping your device’s operating systems, firewalls and antivirus software updated creates an extra line of defence against online threats. The ‘scan’ function of your antivirus can also help to detect and eliminate potential threats.

Secure Your Website Domain with Verz Design

As with any company, it is vital that you ensure the safety and security of all your assets. When it comes to online businesses, your eCommerce website is one of them. With the help of a team of experienced and trained eCommerce developers in Singapore, Verz Design will ensure your e-stores are safe and protected from cybersecurity risks. Equip your eCommerce website with extra layers of security today! Contact Verz Design at 6841 1680 or via [email protected] to get started!

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