Watch for Domain Scammers like ZipDomains

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Several years ago, I purchased a domain for our family. Upon doing the prerequisite search, we ultimately settled on a .net name. Not our first choice, but it was what was available.

On 1 January, I got an email from a company called Zip Domains on my admin email address:

Our company specializes in acquiring expired domain names to help individuals and businesses protect their brand online.

The domain name XXXXXX.COM is expired and will become available soon.

We noticed that you own XXXXXX.NET and felt that you may be interested in acquiring the .COM version of your existing domain name.

We can assist in trying to acquire the domain name, as there are likely many interested parties competing for it.

There are no upfront costs, and the fee if we are successful is only $199 USD.

If you are interested, please let us know by January 3 at the latest.

Sorry, but someone tried to sell me the domain earlier in the year for less than that. Think I'm going to pay $199 to some company that spammed me? Fat chance!

At that point, I checked the whois registry and found the domain was about to be removed from DNS, just like they said. I figured, I'll wait a few days for it to be removed from the whois registry and try to purchase it through 1&1.

On the 9th, I got another email from Zip Domains telling me they had secured the rights to the domain and I could purchase it from them for only $99!

Our company specializes in acquiring expired domain names to help individuals and businesses protect their brand online.

The domain name XXXXXX.COM expired recently and we were able to secure it.

We noticed the you own XXXXXX.COM and felt that you may be interested in acquiring the .COM version of your existing domain name.

It is available for a one-time fee of only $99.00 USD.

To purchase or learn more, please visit http://zipdomains.com/buy.php?domain=xxxxxx.com

While the domain was still showing as being deleted in whois, when I checked the next day, it was available. I went into my domain control panel on 1&1 and ordered the .com domain for $8.99, saving me over 1000% what Zip Domains wanted to charge!

I thank Zip Domains for making me aware of the expired domain. However, there was zero chance I was going to pay above the typical registration cost for a domain, particularly for my family where the value of having "the right" domain is relatively low.

I have to wonder how many people fall for zipdomains "scam," buying a domain they could have had for the nominal cost if they waited a few days. It's not clear to me ZipDomains actually does anything to secure a domain name. The domain was either marked as "being deleted" or "not present" in whois when Zip Domains told me they had secured it for my purchase, so I question their legitimacy. (If someone from Zip Domains wants to rebut my statements, leave a comment below)

In short, beware of companies that are trying to scare you into buying a domain from them or send you "renewal" notices in the postal mail--that's my favorite one.

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