Internet Scam from DNS Services Sends Solicitation That Looks Like an Invoice

I've worked as a web developer for 15 years and I've seen a lot of scams related to domain names. At least a couple times a month, one of my clients will forward an e-mail to me with some sort of "request to verify domain name" or "domain name registry" service. Scams like that are pretty commonplace. These services lure you in by being technical enough to be confusing, but legit enough looking to make a person think it's real.

Today, however, I got a new one. A customer scanned an "invoice" he received from DNS Services for $65. He was skeptical that it was real, but wanted me to verify it for him. It's a good thing he did because this is one of the more sophisticated scams I've seen. Basically, it's a solicitation in the form of an invoice with only a small paragraph of text stating that it is not a bill.

Generally, when these types of offers come in the mail, they are stamped NOT A BILL or NOT A CHECK or whatever. This one was much less conspicuous and, as a result, substantially more confusing. My customer was smart enough to ask me, but if you don't have a resident nerd, there are some things you can look for to avoid these scams.

Know the names of your providers.

Know who you purchased your domain name from, the name of the company who hosts it and any other companies that are involved in your website's operation. This is the equivalent of knowing who provides your electricity or your cell phone service.

Keep track of your domain name registrations.

This is especially true if you own more than one domain name. Have one registrar (Network Solutions, MyDomains.com, Register.com, GoDaddy -- God help you) and use it to purchase all your domain names. It will save hassle and make them easier to track.

Look up scams online.

If you think you got a scam e-mail or letter, do a search for a few of the words in it or the name of the company sending it along with the word "scam." Chances are you are not the first person to encounter this issue and others have already talked about it online.

When in doubt, ask a professional.

If you really aren't sure and are concerned, speak to a reputable professional in the Internet business who can give you advice on what is legit and what is fake.

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