As the circus showman P.T. Barnum once reportedly said, “there’s a sucker born every minute.” While Barnum just wanted to get customers to pay for a ticket to the show, Internet scammers take advantage of our ignorance, gullibility, and apathy in order to make an easy dollar.
Even if you delete every email offering you the opportunity to share in princely riches, and decline to provide your bank information to the urgent requests that show up in your spam folder, you’re still vulnerable to wily and wicked scammers. For example, consider the oldie but goodie domain name scam, which has recently been revived by a company that goes by the name DNS Services.
A Simple Invoice, Or Is It?
Here’s how it works. When you register your domain name, your contact information—including your email address—is set by default to be public. DNS registry scammers use Whois, a directory for domain names, to look up people who might be good marks.
Once they’ve identified their targets, the company will send the unsuspecting users an “invoice,” that includes a bill for domain renewal for an inflated price. Although the fine print disclaimer notes that the invoice is actually, “a solicitation for the order of goods or services,” the company obviously hopes that you won’t notice and send in a payment for, effectively, nothing.
Preventing the Problem
In addition to being on the lookout for unsolicited invoices, you might consider setting up Whois privacy with A Small Orange (read more about it here). The cost is $7/year, and you’ll make it much harder for scam companies—and anyone else, for that matter—to get your contact information through Whois.
Internet scams have been around for a while now, and scammers tend to not be the most innovative bunch. Instead, they keep reviving the old tricks and hope that you weren’t paying attention the last time a warning went out. Just because there’s a sucker born every minute doesn’t mean that you have to be one of them.
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Photo via Robert Couse-Baker