Predatory Scam that Targets Small Business Owners – Domain Listings
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There are many companies out there that may be technically “legal”, but their sole purpose is not to provide a worthwhile or beneficial service, but to outright scam businesses (especially small business) out of money. The intention with these quick posts, is to shine a bit of a light on these unscrupulous companies and to help people avoid them before falling prey to them.
Earlier in the month one of our clients reached out to me in an email and asked … “Is this the correct place we should be paying for our domain? I haven’t paid it before…”
I always tell our clients that if they receive any email, physical mail, or phone calls that just don’t seem right or are from a company they are unfamiliar with, to run it by us first. In this case, the company is Domain Listings.
The letter you’ll receive …
What’s the scam?
If you read the letter closely, you’ll see they describe this as a “subscription” for an “annual website domain listing on internet directory”. Many business owners receive these and assume this is a bill to renew their domain (which also occurs annually). It’s easy to make the mistake. The letter liberally uses your domain name all over it. The second paragraph, they actually go into more detail:
“This website listing offer is provided to leading websites throughout the United States to enhance their Website exposure and expose them to new customers through our directory. We are not a Domain Registrar and we do not Register or Renew Domain Names.’
They even put this:
“THIS IS NOT A BILL. THIS IS A SOLICITATION. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO PAY THE AMOUNT STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.”
So they are flat out telling you what is it and that it is not a bill. However, there are some key things here that up the chances of small business owners falling victim to this:
- they have crafted this thing to look like an invoice;
- they use your own domain name all over it;
- they know the average small business owner does not have time and will most likely not read the whole thing/make an assumption it’s an actual bill they need to pay.
Just taking a look at all of the complaints this company gets on the Better Business Bureau site, it’s clear the vast majority claim “deception”, and they’re not wrong. The whole letter is visually designed in hopes businesses will make that mistake and since most of them are busy and not carefully reading this letter, it certainly sets the stage. Sidenote: the company does appear to give refunds, but going through the hoops to reach customer service and get one seems problematic. Best to avoid sending them money in the first place.
So here’s the thing …
Yes, this company has a “directory” website with all the listings of businesses who paid them, but the kicker is, I guarantee the majority of their traffic is probably coming from other companies who get one of these letters. Some may visit the site and think, “oh, nice, people can find my business this way”, but I could find nothing anywhere on the internet concerning the company, Domain Listings, except for tons of others trying to warn about this scam. They seem to do zero marketing in order to get actual people who may be looking for a particular service in their area and that is the real key here and why I file this whole thing under “scam” rather than legitimate marketing for small business. There is no ROI (return on investment) here.
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