Domain Registry of America is a scam. Don't let your nonprofit get fooled.
I know how registering a website domain goes in a small nonprofit: A volunteer or an intern or a staff person’s nephew set up the website years ago and registered the domain somewhere — which perhaps you only found out when it suddenly expired, the email address renewal messages were being sent to having long ago been deleted or moved. Remembering to renew your domain is probably something you learned (perhaps the hard way) to schedule on your calendar, to make sure the website doesn’t go down — as it did once for me — when the single “tech person” on staff is away at a conference.
Into this confusion steps Domain Registry of America, a bottomfeeding company that intentionally misleads low-information website owners into vastly overpaying for their domain registration by switching to their “service.”
You don’t need to and shouldn’t register your nonprofit website with Domain Registry of America — don’t be fooled!
Here’s how it works: Domain Registry of America sends the owner of a website domain an official-looking “expiration notice” (pictured at right), urging the owner to “act today” to prevent “loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you.”
How does it get your mailing address? Domain Registry of America trawls “whois” records, the official listings of contact information every website has.
Many domain registrars offer “whois privacy” or “whois anonymization,” enabling registrants to substitute the registrar’s own contact information for yours. But nonprofits, either because of a need for transparency or a lack of knowledge about the service, often have their official mailing address listed.
Domain Registry of America isn’t any kind of official or government-sanctioned company (I’ve intentionally refrained from referring to it as the Domain Registry of America), although that’s clearly the impression they’re aiming for with their name.
When a harried nonprofit staffer gets a letter that says “domain name expiration notice” in big letters at the top, they might well think back to the last time their website unexpectedly expired and send back their “renewal” — not realizing they’ve unintentionally transferred their domain.
Now to be fair, Domain Registry of America carefully words its documents to specify that this “is not a bill” and that responding will “switch your domain name registration.” But they’re clearly banking on people not reading closely.
Domain Registry of America vastly overcharges for domain registrations — $35 per year with their “service,” whereas reputable registrars usually charge between $10 and $15 per year.
This company can’t compete on price or service; their entire business model is built on swindling people into switching their registration. Because nonprofits are more likely to be low-information customers in this space, and because they’re likely to have their real contact information listed, nonprofits are at particular risk of being exploited by Domain Registry of America. I’ve seen at least two nonprofits nearly go through with the switch before they realized what was happening.
Don’t let it happen to your nonprofit. Just say no to Domain Registry of America!
Other resources on Domain Registry of America
- “Domain name scams,” from Wikipedia
- “Domain Registry of America,” by Peter Forret
- “Domain Registry of America scam” from GreenNet
- “Scam Alert: Domain Registry of America,” from Moore Web Exposure
- “Domain Registry of America Scam Alert,” from studio1c
- “Domain Registry Of America: Scam Alert!,” by Garrett Blanton
- “The Domain Registry of America scam,” by Michael Reynolds
- and my favorite, “Want an Example of Everything That Is Wrong in This World? Domain Registry of America Does Us the Honors,” by The Naming Dude