I have fourteen domain names that I've registered with TCH. I occasionally receive a letter in the mail from various domain registrars stating that whateversite.com is set to expire soon so I better send a check to them tout-suite or else I'll lose the domain. Of course, I never respond because I can renew the domain on the registrar's website for about 1/3 of that price and just chuck the letter into the circular file. Besides, I have them all set to auto-renew (save one), and information regarding their renewal has always come via email in the past.
So a few hours ago my phone rings. The first thing I noticed is that the caller ID is blocked. I answer it anyway and the guy tells me he is from some company (unfortunately, I was busy at work and distracted, and didn't take a note of the name of the company or the person), calling regarding one of my domains (coincidentally, one that I don't use and was planning on letting expire).
The guy proceeds to tell me that he needs to verify my contact information, and requests a fax number so he can send me some "very important information" regarding the domain. I refuse to verify anything or to provide a fax number, and ask him what the call is regarding.
We basically go in circles for a few minutes -- him insisting that I (actually, that "Mr. Kelly") need to give him a fax number so that I can receive this "very important information" and me asking for more detail as to what this phone call is in regards to.
I eventually hung up on him, which was childish I'll admit, but I was getting fed up. In hindsight I should have given him the fax number here at work so I could see what this "very important information" is, since it wouldn't really do any harm. I just didn't want to give him the satisfaction.
As with the letters I receive in the mail, I assumed from the start this wasn't a legitimate phone call since anything that regards the domain names can be (and has always been) done via the website or over email. Besides, why would a legitimate business block their number from caller ID, and also refuse to give me more information?
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It is very easy for anyone to find out your contact information via a whois on your domain name, unless you pay extra for a private registration. Some of the less ethical registrar companies use this fact to harvest names and try to get you to switch over to their service.
Please, if you receive a letter in the mail, an email or even a phone call warning you to renew your domain name, the first thing to do -- before you hand over any information or money -- is to make sure that you verify that the company you registered your domain with is the one contacting you. In fact ignore the letter/email/phone call, go to the registrar's website directly, log in and renew it there.
By sending money to one of these companies that contact you, you are essentially allowing them to transfer your domain over to their service (usually for many times the cost), and you may even end up losing the domain entirely.
Also, make sure you put set up "domain locking;" this makes is to that attempted transfers will fail until the domain is unlocked, and you can only unlock it by logging into the registrar's website and manually unlocking it.
Google has a lot of info on this subject -- do a search for "domain slamming." I'm sorry for the long-winded post. I thought it would be worth mentioning.