Domain Scams & Spams
If you have your own domain name and/or website, you can expect to receive a large number of "special offers" related to your domain. The most common ones are:
- Web Hosting: Offers to have your site hosted more cheaply and reliably than your current provider.
- Search Engine Submissions: Offers to increase your site's traffic through search engines.
- Site Updates: Offers to improve your site's design.
- Marketing: Ways to advertise your site.
- Bulk Email: Ways to target lots of people through mass emailing.
Except for bulk emailing (aka spam) each of these things are genuine measures you can take to increase your site's performance... if they are undertaken by a genuine professional. However the picture isn't that simple. This brings us to the issue at hand...
The internet is rife with unscrupulous people wanting to take advantage of the unwary website owner. Virtually all the offers you receive in your inbox are SPAM! This means they are internet junk mail, sent to literally millions of email addresses at random. Spam is the scourge of the internet and you should never, ever do business with a spammer. If you do want to find a new provider or investigate different options, find them yourself (see below).
Every web company in the world knows that spamming is considered unethical. The only people who send unsolocited emails are those who don't care. Is this who you want to do business with?
Spammers use some amazing tricks to make their messages appear to be addressed to you personally, but don't believe it - it's all done with mirrors. A few examples:
- TrafficMagnet.com is a company which allegedly helps attract visitors to your website. They have a very well-designed site and a professional image. The problem is they are spammers. They have a program which automatically identifies you as a domain owner, then sends you an email which includes a small picture of your site's home page and what appears to be a personal message addressed to you. It claims that someone from their company has visited your website and "noticed that you're not listed on some search engines!" But it's okay because they can fix it for a fee. As hard as it is for the non-programmer to believe, this email was created entirely by a computer, is only one of thousands of similar emails sent by this company every day, and is a complete fraud.
- A popular tactic is to tell you that your "other" domains are in danger of being taken by someone else. For example, most .com owners have been contacted with a panicky email telling them that the .info or .biz version of their domain is in danger. Unless you have a good reason to acquire additional domains, ignore these emails. If you do want the extra domains, hire someone legitimate to help.
- Some cons are even more devious. Some firms send out carefully-crafted invoices for a domain which is very similar to yours, but which you don't own. These scammers rely on the fact that you'll think it's a genuine invoice and just pay.
The sad fact is that, almost without exception, none of these offers are from genuine, reputable companies. They have never visited your website, they know nothing about you. You're just a number in a database of millions. Reputable web companies do not send out mass email, they advertise through other means or contact you personally.
Note: Never reply to spam, even to unsubscribe. Most "unsubscribe" links do no such thing - they actually confirm that you are reading the spam and you get sent even more.
As we said at the top of the page, most of the services in these offers are actually real measures which can help your site. The point is that they are being offered by unethical people who probably have no intention of providing good service. In order to find someone who really can help you...
- Buy computer magazines, they are full of advertisements from legitimate companies.
- Look in the Yellow Pages.
- Use a search engine.
- Visit newsgroups.
- Ask around.
Before doing business with anyone, check their reputation. Any good provider can give you references.