Domain Renewal Scam: iDNS

By October 5, 2015tech

Recently, a former Google employee managed to buy the Google.com domain name briefly, through Google’s Domain service. While it looks like it was internal glitch in their system, it highlights the sometimes confusing nature of renewing domains. I’ve had 2 clients recently ripped off by an outfit called internet Domain Name Services, so this post is a warning to anyone who gets their “invoice.”

Background

For a website to be visible on the internet it must have a registered domain name. these names have to be renewed every 1 to 10 years depending on the interval you choose when renewing. Once you have purchased that domain name there are some settings you have to adjust – the big ones being the name servers (which link your domain name to the server that hosts the files for your website) and your contact records. The contact records consist of 4 parts – the registrant (owner), the admin, the tech contact, and the auxiliary billing contact. All have their reasons to exist – a company (the admin) can manage a domain for a client (the registrant), and have one of their employees (the tech) take care of it. In that regard, the registrant, admin, and tech contacts would be different, and perhaps the auxiliary billing would be two if it was added in the first place.

These records are publicly available information that can be searching using something called whois records. Just search the phrase “whois” and a list of sites shows up, and all you have to do is put the domain name into their search field to get a bunch of info. You can see where that domain is registered, who hosts the site, when it was created and when it expires, and the contact details for the different contacts we talked about above (long pic, contact details at bottom):

The whois info for yahoo.com. Most domains display this info.

The whois info for yahoo.com. Most domains display this info.

iNDS

Now it’s important to note that only a person who has access to the account in which a domain is registered can renew it. Which brings us the shady firm Internet Domain Name Services. They will send you a notice like this:

An official looking iNDS "invoice"

An official looking iNDS “invoice”

It looks like they are billing you. But they aren’t, and can’t. Remember, your domain is already in a different account that they do not have access to, and therefore they can’t renew your domain. They pull public info, dress it up to look legitimate, charge 4x the going rate for a domain renewal, and stone cold scam people. I don’t know of anyone who has had success getting their money back either, due to the wording of the document.

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