One of the biggest scams perpetrated on American internet business users is the “Domain Registry of America”. This company sends out printed letters to anyone who is registered as a domain name owner, telling them that their domain name is about to expire. The problem is – this isn’t the company many people have registered the domain through.
The ‘scam’ part of this is that most business users of the internet just aren’t tech-savvy enough to be able to spot a fraud like this, and they end up responding to the letter by sending in a check – which gives the “Domain Registry of America” (DRoA) permission to move the domain away from the originally approved domain registrar. Click the picture below to see what a letter looks like:
As of this writing, DRoA charges $35 per year for a domain registration. Most domain registrars are between $5 and $20 per year – but most offer more than just domain registration for the money. Most registrars include a free email address or customizable DNS or other services, while DRoA offers very little.
One of the biggest issues is that DRoA makes it difficult to transfer the domain to another registrar once they have it in their grips. Users often don’t know how to login to the account DRoA setup for them, then when you try to transfer the domain, the “email privacy” option that they turn on seems to never send the needed information to the domain owner. I believe this is all designed to keep domain owners from properly managing their web addresses.
There are even reports of the ‘Domain Registry of America’ “buying” domains that expire and further holding them for ransom. When a domain name expires, the registrar usually tries to auto-renew the domain for the next year using a credit card. However, many people taken in by this swindle don’t write their credit card number on the form – they simply send in a check. So when the renewal comes due, there’s no way to “auto-renew” the domain and it sometimes expires. That’s when DRoA can “buy” the domain and then “resell” it… for the right price.
The Better Business Bureau (as of this posting) gives DRoA a “C-“ (http://www.bbb.org/upstate-new-york/business-reviews/internet-services/domain-registry-of-america-in-buffalo-ny-17000531/) – keep in mind, it’s almost impossible to get a D or F with the BBB. The BBB has over 250 complaints for this DRoA address. There are countless other people who haven’t taken the time to contact the BBB.
The best way to protect yourself from deceptions like this, or with anything computer or technology related, is to ASK A GEEK. Most everyone knows someone who’s a geek – and if you don’t know one, keep looking or ask the question on your Facebook page. Just make sure you understand (or trust) the answer before you do something. Just like the bad name auto mechanics have had for many years, it’s easy to be ripped off by questionable technology companies (and some geeks!)