Domain name registration can be tricky especially for a newbie. With thousands of competitors for the same name, you may be tempted to rush your registration without first becoming familiar with the details of your registrar’s terms. You may also commit some common mistakes in choosing and registering your domain name.
Domain names are also targeted by a lot of scammers who attempt to offer the owners a host of services in exchange for exorbitant fees. If you are not familiar with these practices, you may be tricked to sign up for their fake services.
Here are some domain name registration traps to watch out for:
1. Hyphens and numbers
While incorporating hyphens, numbers, and special characters may look appealing and may seem to make your domain name unique, they should be avoided. These characters are difficult to remember and are easily overlooked. Users are likely to type the wrong combination which will cause them to be redirected to another site.
2. Trademarked domains
The reasons why you should avoid registering trademarked domains are pretty obvious. First of all, these domains are protected under the law and you don’t want to have to defend yourself in an infringement case. If you choose combinations that look similar to those domain names that are already registered, you could still get into trouble for creating confusion or attempting to defraud consumers.
Second, these industries have a prior right to the domain name. They have also invested time, money, and effort in securing their brand names. They deserve to keep their domain names unless the registration has expired.
3. Free domain and hosting services
There are a lot of disadvantages of choosing free hosting and domain services. These include slow site loading, lack of customer support, lack of personal email address, limited features, and inability to fully implement SEO practices. Furthermore, while some companies may advertise free services, they may charge you with some costs after an initial period.
In other words, don’t take the risk of choosing free domain services when you can get quality services at reasonable costs.
4. Domain resellers
A domain reseller is one who sells domains or processes the registration of a domain name on behalf of another. They are not under the authority of ICANN, which means that if any troubles arise from your transactions with them, you’re entirely on your own.
In addition, domain resellers don’t guarantee your ownership to the domain name. You are likely to have problems later on.
5. Maintenance costs
Some providers will offer a cheap initial cost but will charge higher rates for monthly maintenance fees. This is true of companies that set you up on newer extension names. To your surprise, you may find their monthly maintenance charges may be three times more costly compared to other providers.
6. Transfer-out fees
Another thing to watch out for is the set of stipulations in the “Terms of Service”, which authorize the provider to charge your credit card for certain fees in the event that you decide to move your domain to another registrar. In most cases, such fees can amount to double or triple the costs of the initial registration.
This practice is a violation of ICANN’s prescribed policies on domain transfers. Should it happen, you can call your credit card company and ask that the charges be canceled.
To avoid these instances, make sure that you take the time to read the fine print of the “Terms of Service” carefully before you agree to abide by the stipulations.
7. Whois update charges
Information pertaining to your domain is saved on the Whois database. Some registrars charge additional fees each time you want to update the saved information. This is common among setups where the domain owner does not exercise ownership rights over the domain and its relevant information. Therefore, you need to verify that the registrar you choose does not impose such Whois maintenance fees.
8. Multi-year registrations
This is where you opt to pay a one-time registration fee to cover a longer period instead of having to renew your registration annually. For instance, when you choose a five-year period, you would naturally expect that you won’t have to make any renewal payments until the expiration of the five-year term.
However, there are registrars who can only guarantee your domain name registration for a year. They would either charge you for renewal fees yearly, or you would be surprised to learn that your domain name has already been listed as expired on the Whois database.
You can use some of the available tools such as the Whois.sc to check for the real expiration date of your registration. It should match the period for which you’ve paid. Otherwise, you’ve been scammed.
9. Domain slamming
Domain slamming refers to the unauthorized transfers of a domain name to another registrar under the pretense of registration renewal with the current registrar. This happens when scammers take the domain owner’s information listed in the Whois database and send out emails purporting to be renewal notices. Those owners who may not be closely monitoring their renewal terms may remit payments and as a result, their domains are transferred to another registrar. In some cases, when the domain is moved to the fraudulent registrar, the owner may be “locked” into paying future renewals.
You can avoid this situation by keeping informed of your registration term details so you won’t mistake a marketing spam for a valid term renewal.
10. Fake trademark protection
Another popular domain name scam is one where a fraudulent registrar sends the domain owner an email claiming that another company has tried to register the same or similar domain name which contains the current brand or trademark. The email will state that they have not yet processed the registration pending confirmation with the registered domain owner regarding his trademark rights. The scammer will then offer to protect the current domain owner in exchange for purchases of several domain name variations or extension names at marked up amounts.
This scheme is practiced by scammers because they know how companies value their trademarks. They take advantage of the owners’ lack of knowledge of a particular country’s laws and try to pocket money from the owners by offering fake protection.
It is recommended that you observe best practices in choosing and registering your domain name. To avoid scams or traps, make sure that you select a reliable provider who is known to deliver quality services and who offers a responsive customer support. Also, you should ensure the protection of your domain and personal information to avoid being contacted by spammers.
Most of the popular domain registrars offer private domain registration and security protection services at reasonable costs. Make use of these benefits and keep your domain secure.