Internet ScamBusters #1
Why read Internet ScamBusters?
This zine will help you avoid the aggravation that come from scams, hype, and misinformation about using the Internet to promote your business or professional services. We want you to learn from the mistakes other people have already made, so you can avoid making these painful mistakes yourself!
Internet ScamBusters shows you:
- How to avoid getting ripped off by all the Internet hoopla
- Internet myths and realities: getting beyond the hype
- What REALLY works and what doesn't - especially on a limited budget
Who should read Internet ScamBusters?
Internet ScamBusters is the zine for entrepreneurs, business owners and marketing folks at small and medium-size businesses, and professionals who are currenty using or considering the Internet to promote their products or services.
When is Internet ScamBusters published?
We'll publish Internet ScamBusters as frequently as we have good stuff to share with you - probably once or twice a month.
Internet ScamBusters Reveals Domain Name Pricing Scams!
The scam we'll talk about in this issue is about registering domain names. A domain name is the way that computers use to find each other on the Internet. (By the way, we're trying to keep this zine relatively non-technical. Therefore, a tiny bit of technical inaccuracy avoids a ton of explanation.) The common domain suffixes are .com (commercial organizations), .edu (educational institutions), .org (non-profit organizations), .net (network), .gov (government), and .mil (military).
(At the time of original publication the following information was correct - updates are included where applicable.)
SCAM: Some companies are charging up to $1,000 just to register a domain name!
We didn't believe this either, but... we've gotten a number of letters from companies who say they will "only" charge $1,000 to register our domain name! Unfortunately, some innocent people have accepted this ridiculous offer.
Clearly, this is a complete rip-off. And we've received even more offers to register domain names for "just" $300!
OK. So what should it cost to register a domain name? The short answer is that it should cost you between $15 and $75 (plus a fee to InterNIC - see below). Anything more is a rip-off.
Here's why: There are two types of fees to register a domain name:
- A fee to InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center -- the group in charge of assigning domain names) and
- A fee to the company doing the domain name registration for you.
1. InterNIC is in charge of registering domain names. Until September of this year (1995), there was no charge from InterNIC to register domain names. Therefore, if you knew how to fill out the appropriate form and submit it to InterNIC, you could register a domain name for free.
Prior to the registration fees from InterNIC, some people registered huge numbers of domain names. For example, there were individuals who tried to register the names of as many major corporations as they could, so they could later sell these domain names to these companies (when the companies realized that "their" domain names were not available).
On September 14, 1995, InterNIC announced that the fee for all new domain name registrations would be $100, which would include two years of registration. So, all new domain name registrations now cost a minimum of $100, the fee to InterNIC. (Update: The fee for Web Addresses registered on or after April 1, 1998, is US$70.00. New registrations are in effect for a two-year period.)
The fee for annual renewals (for both new and existing domains) is $50. Therefore, all domain names that were registered prior to September 14, 1995 (when the $100 registration fee was initiated) will owe an annual renewal fee of $50 on the anniversary of their initial registration. (Update: All domain names re-registered on or after April 1, 1998, are assessed a US$35.00 re-registration fee.)
On the Web: For more information, the Web address for InterNIC Registration Services is http://rs.internic.net/rs-internic.html. (Update: Network Solutions now handles the registration services: http://www.networksolutions.com/ )
2. Many people hire their ISP (Internet Service Provider) or a consultant to register their domain names for them.
The process of registering a domain name almost always involves these five steps:
- Selecting a domain name to register
- Finding out if this domain name is currently available
- Selecting an ISP who will host the domain
- Filling out the appropriate form to request the domain name (done by you or the ISP)
- Submitting this form to InterNIC (done by the ISP).
A Useful Tip: It is now possible to use the Web to find out whether or not the domain name you'd like to register is available using WhoIs. This is a LOT more convenient than alternative ways to find out whether or not a domain name is available. But remember, the name may be assigned to someone else between when your application is submitted and when it is reviewed by InterNIC.
On the Web: Look at example information along with the instructions that are included as part of the Domain Name Registration Agreement to request a new domain name. Filling out and submitting the form is not difficult (however, it does require knowing what you're doing).
A reasonable fee to pay to have your ISP (or a consultant) fill out and submit this form for you is between $15 and $75. Our ISP charges us $30 and does an excellent job. Paying much more for this is unnecessary.
This means that you will pay a total of $115 to $175 (including the $100 to InterNIC) to register your domain name. (at the time of original publication)
Note: This scam is about consultants who charge $1000 for ONLY registering a domain name. If your ISP starts talking about fees of $1000, they are probably giving you more domain services than you need. (The service most of you will want from your ISP is sometimes called a "domain alias," and can be implemented for the prices we mentioned.)
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Don't cross the zines... Er, beams?... Nope, that's not it... Oh yes.... Make sure that YOU, not the company filling out or submitting the form to InterNIC, owns the domain name you are registering.
Some sleazy ISPs and consultants offer to do the work, charge for doing the registration, and then submit the form with their own company name rather than the client as the owner of the domain name. This means that you're not the owner, and cannot move the domain name if you become dissatisfied with your ISP.
Tip: Don't worry if you're not the technical or administrative contact (Questions 4 and 5 on the form) -- that's OK. Just be sure that Questions 3a to 3f are filled in with your company's name and info. That way, you'll own the domain name, not your ISP or consultant.
Where you gonna go? Internet ScamBusters!
Wondering about Internet ScamBusters? Does it seem too good to be true? We just don't like scams! Internet ScamBusters is a free resource to benefit the commercial Internet community, published by Audri and Jim Lanford at Lanford Inc.