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Domain Name Recovery Scam

It is the oldest trick in the book. A malicious actor looks up recently expired domain names – then confirms the business is active (they forgot) and he registers the domain. Then contacts the former owner offering an expensive recovery of the domain name.

Common Domain Name Recovery Scams: How to Protect Your Online Assets

In the digital age, your domain name is not just a web address; it’s a valuable part of your online identity and brand. Unfortunately, this digital asset is susceptible to various scams and fraudulent activities. Domain name recovery scams are a prevalent threat that can lead to financial losses and the loss of your valuable online presence. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into common domain name recovery scams, how they work, and most importantly, how you can protect yourself from falling victim to these schemes.

Understanding Domain Name Ownership

Before we delve into domain name recovery scams, it’s crucial to understand how domain ownership works. When you register a domain name, you essentially acquire the right to use it for a specified period, typically one year or more. However, you don’t technically own the domain; you have the exclusive rights to use it as long as you continue to renew and pay for it.

Your domain registrar, the company through which you registered the domain, maintains records of your ownership and manages the technical aspects of your domain. To prove your ownership, you have access to a unique login (often referred to as a registrar account) where you can manage and renew your domain.

Common Domain Name Recovery Scams

  1. Fake Renewal Notices:

    One of the most common domain name recovery scams involves sending fraudulent renewal notices. Scammers send emails or physical letters that appear to come from legitimate domain registrars or regulatory bodies. These notices often claim that your domain is about to expire and instruct you to renew it immediately by clicking on a link or providing payment information. Unwary domain owners who fall for this scam may end up transferring their domain to the scammer or paying inflated fees.

  2. Phishing Attacks:

    Phishing is a widespread online scam where attackers send deceptive emails or messages, pretending to be a trusted entity. In the context of domain recovery scams, scammers may impersonate your domain registrar or a legitimate domain recovery service. They’ll send you a convincing email, often containing official-looking logos and branding, asking you to log in to a fake website. Once you enter your login credentials, they can hijack your domain or steal sensitive information.

  3. Unsolicited Offers to Sell Your Domain:

    Scammers often scour public domain registration records and target domain owners with unsolicited offers to buy their domains at inflated prices. These offers may come from seemingly reputable brokers or buyers, but in reality, they are looking to profit from your domain’s value or steal it through fraudulent means once you agree to sell.

  4. Unauthorized Transfers:

    In some cases, scammers may try to initiate unauthorized transfers of your domain name to their control. They might do this by accessing your registrar account through stolen credentials or by exploiting vulnerabilities in the domain registrar’s security systems.

  5. Impersonating Domain Recovery Services:

    Scammers may impersonate legitimate domain recovery services, claiming that they can help you recover a lost or expired domain. They often charge exorbitant fees for services that are available for free through legitimate channels.

How to Protect Yourself from Domain Name Recovery Scams

Protecting your domain name from recovery scams requires vigilance, caution, and knowledge. Here are some key steps to safeguard your online assets:

  1. Verify Sender Authenticity:

    Always verify the authenticity of emails or letters related to your domain. Check the sender’s email address, scrutinize the message for any red flags (poor grammar, spelling errors, etc.), and independently verify the sender’s identity by contacting your domain registrar directly.

  2. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

    Enable two-factor authentication for your domain registrar account. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide a second verification code (often sent to your mobile device) in addition to your password when logging in.

  3. Beware of Unsolicited Offers:

    Be cautious when receiving unsolicited offers to buy or sell your domain. Research the legitimacy of the offer and consider using a reputable domain broker or escrow service for transactions.

  4. Keep Your Contact Information Updated:

    Ensure that your domain registrar has your current and accurate contact information. This includes your email address and phone number, as this information is often used for account recovery and verification.

  5. Educate Yourself:

    Stay informed about domain name ownership and common scams. Knowledge is your best defense against fraud. Understand the expiration and renewal process for your domains and the procedures for transferring them.

  6. Use Reputable Registrars:

    Choose a well-established and reputable domain registrar for your domain registration needs. Avoid registrars with a history of security breaches or a lack of transparency.

  7. Regularly Check Your Domain Status:

    Periodically check the status and expiration dates of your domains. Most registrars provide user-friendly dashboards that display this information. Set up renewal reminders to avoid letting your domains expire unintentionally.

  8. Be Skeptical of Urgency:

    Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure you into making quick decisions. If you receive an email or message that insists on immediate action, take a step back and independently verify its legitimacy.

  9. Don’t Share Sensitive Information:

    Never share sensitive information, such as login credentials or payment details, through unsolicited emails or messages. Legitimate domain registrars and recovery services will never ask for this information via email.

  10. Report Suspected Scams:

    If you encounter a suspected domain name recovery scam, report it to your domain registrar and relevant authorities. Reporting scams helps protect others from falling victim to similar schemes.


Your domain name is a valuable digital asset that plays a critical role in your online presence and brand identity. Protecting it from domain name recovery scams is essential to maintain control and ownership. By staying informed, using caution when dealing with unsolicited offers or messages, and implementing security measures like two-factor authentication, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these common scams. Remember that vigilance and due diligence are your strongest allies in safeguarding your online assets.

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