We agree that it's difficult to know which emails you get are real and which are fake because there are so many attempts now to "phish" for login information. There's one email that you need to look for and respond to if you get it. This email is from your domain name registrar.
We just had a client's website get shut down. At first, we couldn't figure out what was going on. It wasn't the hosting (which was our hosting) but it had to do with their DNS. We were able to login to their account at Dotster (their registrar) and we saw a notice that a verification email was not responded to. They missed clicking on a link in this email and not doing that shut down their website and email even though the domain was still registered and valid for a few more years. Here's a screen shot I grabbed:
Here is more information on why this is happening:
How to Stop New ICANN Rule From Shutting Your Website Down (smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com)
ICANN's new rule went into effect Jan. 1. It states that ICANN accredited domain-name registrars that have signed the 2013 contract with ICANN must verify the email address or telephone number of its registrants, Ward said. A list of affected registrars can be found on the ICANN website, and it applies to new customers and existing customers that update their information. "If the contact information is not verified within 15 days of the change, registrants run the risk of having their website shut down," Ward told Business News Daily. In addition to the domain suspension, any websites, emails and associated services will also be disrupted.
It's because ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), who is the governing organization for domain names (for the meantime), set up this new rule that some domain name registrars have agreed to enforce.
We don't think this is the best way to handle things since these emails can easily be mistaken for spam but there's really nothing that can be done to change this.
The article goes on:
Although the new policy aims to prevent fraud and keep customers safe, the 15-day verification rule isn't very well-known among website owners, Ward said. "Registrars don't always communicate what they deem to be internal business requirements to their customers, [and when they do], business owners are seldom likely to read it," Ward said. "Email open rates are very low and probably the lowest when discussing governmental body policy minutiae."
Given these changes — and the general lack of communicating them — it's more important than ever for small business owners to start paying attention to website policies. "I think small business owners and domain holders often assume that once they have paid their money for a domain, everything will continue to work the way it always has," Ward said. "But as policies change, it's more important than ever to stay informed and updated on the latest rules."
So watch for these emails. If you're not sure if an email you get is legit or not, feel free to contact us and we'll try to help you.
Here's another story about a website that basically had a hostile takeover but it was preventable.
The main thing you need to know is who your domain name registrar really is. You can do that here:
Look for the "Registrar" and "Reseller" fields and this will give you a clue - here is a screen shot:
That will tell you who your domain name registrar is.
Also pay attention to the expiration date. If you have a couple years or some time and you're receiving an email or letter from a company claiming that your domain is expiring, then that's probably a scam.
And watch for letters saying you need to renew your domain name search registration. There's really no such thing as that - yes, there are some paid search engine placements but a company claiming you need to pay for "domain name search registration" is most likely trying to scam you.