Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sell Your Domain Appraisal Rip-Off

Thanks to Tyler Reguly who writes at .:Computer Defense:. for letting us know about this notorious scam which has recently resurfaced. If you’ve registered a domain name, your personal information including your Email is probably accessible to anyone.

So what would you do if someone sent you an Email saying they’d like to purchase your domain name for what ever price you want? This happens daily to a lot of folks and while they’re already spending the money in their head, a follow up Email usually includes the following catch.

“Have you had your domains appraised already? Can you show me your valuation certificates? As fas I know it’s a common practice to show appraisal of domain name (even without traffic and web site) before doing business.

Without appraisal I risk to overpay. In other words I won’t be able to make a profit on reselling this name. It’s very important for you and me to know the current market value of your domains.

Naturally, the Email contains a link to a site which claims to be a forum discussing various domain appraisal web sites. Not surprising, it’s a read-only message forum. While I haven’t done all the investigative work to connect the dots, it’s pretty clear the domain appraisal fee will be the only transaction that occurs. A number of victims have come forward to report after $100 or more in appraisal fees, the buyer changed their mind.

There are legitimate sites who will appraise your site and provide services to help sell your domain name but beware. Personally, I think parking a domain name just to resell it is wrong but it’s a pretty common practice.

So here are a few tips.

  • If your name and other contact information shows up in a WhoIs request, you should check with your provider. Most web hosting services offer a feature to hide your contact information.

  • If someone does offer to purchase your web site make sure the transaction is final before turning it over. Even certified bank checks can be faked. Just because your bank hands you the cash it doesn’t mean the check is good.

  • Set your domain name to automatically renew without you doing anything. A lot of folks have tools which let them know the minute a domain name has expired so they can swoop in and register it.

  • You may receive regular mail from a company telling you that your domain is about to expire with a handy return envelope to send a payment to renew your domain. This company probably isn't the one you used to register your domain and they're just trying to steal your business so you're registered through them.

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