A warning from Blacknight, Ireland's leading domain name registrar. Beware of scammers who try to lure people into overpaying for domains they don't need.

Stop! Don’t Be Scammed into Buying a Domain for 10 Years

A large number of people have been in touch recently to seek our advice, after receiving emails soliciting them to buy the .COM equivalent of their .IE domain name for 10 years. While they may not be entirely fraudulent, these emails are certainly dishonest and misleading, and could lead people to pay far more than the market value, for domain name registration services that they most likely don’t need.

The emails are dishonest because the sender claims that they are prompted by having received “a request” to register the .COM version of a .IE domain name currently held by the recipient. This is highly unlikely, to say the least.

The email goes on to claim that the sender is “under the obligation to contact you, in order to offer you the first right of registration”. This is simply untrue. No such obligation exists for domain registrars.

The email goes on to misleadingly suggest:

We are usually under the obligation to register the domain name and to protect it for a period of 10 years. The annual price for the .COM extension is €19.95 per year. This means a one-off payment of € 199.50. When the link has been completed, all the Internet traffic that goes to the .COM extension, will be automatically linked to your current extension and website. This process will take a maximum of 24 hours. This domain name will then have a worldwide reach. The third party will be rejected and can no longer use your domain name.

This is nonsense, and a transparent attempt to extort as much cash as possible from someone who may be unaware of the realities of domain name registration.

Yes, it is possible to register a domain name for multiple years at a time, and many reputable registrars such as ourselves offer such arrangements.

But domain registrars are not ‘the trademark police’ and they are not obliged to give you “first option” on a name in one top-level domain (TLD) simply because you own that name in another. To suggest otherwise is a dishonest attempt to make you think that they are somehow acting in your interest, when they are actually trying to deceive you.

The clearest indication that this is a scam, is the price. Shop around. Dot-COM domain names don’t cost €19.95 per year. At Blacknight we currently sell them for an introductory special offer of €4.99 for the first year, and you can renew them each year for €11.95. And you don’t have to register them for multiple years. You can do so if you wish, or you can configure your account settings so that they auto-renew each year.

Unfortunately domain name scams like this are common, and they prey on the unfamiliarity of the general public with the domain name industry.

If you have a .IE domain name, should you register the .COM equivalent? That’s up to you. It’s entirely possible and legal for two entities to use the same name in different top-level domains, without infringing on each other’s trademarks. On the other hand, if your brand trades internationally, you may wish to assert your international intellectual property rights. And there are dispute resolution policies adhered to by generic (as well as national) domain registries, for cases where it is asserted that an entity has acted in bad faith to usurp another’s IP rights.

If you want advice on intellectual property rights, consult a lawyer who specialises in that area. Don’t take the word of someone who mails you an unsolicited offer to lighten your wallet by €200.

If you want domain registration advice, take our word for it as a reputable ICANN-accredited domain name registrar:

  • There is no such thing as a “first option” for rights holders in domain name registration.
  • Domain name registration is highly competitive. Shop around. Compare prices. Don’t take the word of a stranger who tries to imply that they are doing you a favour.
  • One year? 10 years? If you are unsure how long you will require a domain name, choose one year (and set your account to renew automatically unless you change your mind).
  • Check the bona fides of any company you are dealing with. Ask your friends and business associates. For a registrar of generic domain names like .COM, are they accredited by ICANN? Are they rated on independent review sites?

Still unsure who to trust? There’s a method from the old days that still has validity. Pick up the phone and call. There’s no number listed? What does that tell you?

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5 Responses to Stop! Don’t Be Scammed into Buying a Domain for 10 Years

  1. Denis O'Donovan January 9, 2019 at 22:04 #

    Got that same email stating that someone wanted to register my .ie domain as .info and they wanted to give me the option of buying it first for exactly the same amount you mention. Needless to say their email went in the bin but it’s easy to see how people could be taken in by it.

  2. Teri Morris January 10, 2019 at 12:27 #

    Conn, I’m delighted to see you writing about this to help spread awareness of this terrible marketing scam. I’ve had clients contact me with the exact same email. I wrote a blog post this morning then also did a quick Internet search (is anyone else talking about this? I thought) and came across your article. Well done. It looks legit which is what makes it so deceptive. https://www.impulsehub.ie/blog/businesses-beware-marketing-scam-or-aggressive-marketing

  3. Steven Jacobs January 28, 2019 at 11:51 #

    I could use some advice. A customer of mine fell for the scam and dnsireland have registered the domain for one year so far without receiving payment. The customer received an invoice with 30 days to pay. For the moment, I’ve advised my customer to hold off on paying this invoice. Would you advise them to go ahead and pay at this point? Should they ignore the invoice? Or is there some other action they should take? They do wish to protect their name and reputation. Thanks
    Steven Jacobs

    • Michele Neylon January 28, 2019 at 14:37 #

      Steven
      Without knowing what was agreed upon, how and under what terms it’s impossible for us to give you any real advice on this.

      If your client wants to protect their brand then they should register the domains they want via a reputable registrar. They can always move any domains registered elsewhere to us as well.

      Michele

  4. Steven Jacobs January 28, 2019 at 15:43 #

    They just replied to the dnsireland email without asking or checking first whether it was a scam. Then they asked me and I told them it was a scam but it was already too late. I wonder how many others fell for it without checking first? They haven’t paid the invoice yet, but dnsIreland have registered the domain for one year based on the response from the holder of the .ie equivalent. I’d be afraid if they don’t pay the invoice, dnsireland could do something nasty with the domain.
    I’d also advise them to make sure to get assurance that dnsireland will apply correct registrant and administrative contact information to the domain. At the moment, the way it is registered, only dnsireland has access to any settings.