Ever see something like “your domain is about to expire” or “you need to be listed on Google” in an email from an unnamed company in your inbox?
Domain and SEO fraud is a serious issue that can impact your business’ website and online marketing efforts and cost you money – especially if you don’t know much about how domain registration or SEO works.
How Does It Work?
If you own a website for your business, your contact information is posted publicly when you register your domain name, like mycompany.com. This is standard practice for registering a website, but it also means that anyone can contact you already knowing things like your company’s address, phone number, name and your email address.
The email usually suggests that if you don’t pay, your website will be de-listed from Google. If you read closely, you see that they’re actually selling a fraudulent service that capitalizes on events that would otherwise occur anyway. Eventually, Google and other search engines will automatically crawl your website and list your information, which is how these “companies” eventually seem to be paying off.
What Should You Do?
In a word: nothing.
The only people that can affect your domain are you, your website designer, and your domain provider (companies like GoDaddy, Register.com or Gandi.net). When it comes to your domain actually expiring, Sophie Gironi, the Head of Marketing & Communications at the reputable domain registrar Gandi.net let us know that “customers receive a notification by email, several times, BUT, and that’s the most important think to check, they have a message in their Gandi Dashboard about the domain expiration. That’s a good way for them to check if we really are the sender.” Your domain name will always remain yours so long as you pay your reputable service provider your annual dues and don’t let it expire.
Does This Mean Someone Has Sold My Information?
Most reputable domain providers do not sell your information. While they may sell additional services like SEO, email marketing, etc., they are obligated to release this contact information. Sophie from Gandi.net also let us know that their customers won’t be intentionally spammed because “We are not selling/renting/giving any information about our customers to anyone, except the mandatory information we have to provide to registries and ICANN.”
Ultimately, it’s best to just delete the email that sounds suspicious and move on. If you have any questions or concerns about your website or its performance, your best bet is always to contact your website designer or domain provider before you allow anyone to have access to your website.