Scam Alert: WEBUPDOMAIN follows Domain Name Registry of America lead

Photo by Isai Ramos on Unsplash

WEBUPDOMAIN appears to have taken a lesson from the Domain Name Registry of America and added a new twist.  They’re trying to trick you into transfer your domain name registration to them just as Domain Name Registry of America has done for more than a decade.

WEBUPDOMAIN sent a domain name expiration notice using the contact form on my website this morning. If you’re a World-Weary WordPress Web Warrior, you recognize this as garbage and delete it immediately.

Unfortunately, I once had a client fall for the Domain Name Registry of America scam and I’m sure this one works in a similar manner.  This is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a metric ton of cure.

The Domain Name Registry of America  scam begins with an official looking snail mail notice that tell you your domain name is about to expire.  They (accurately) list all the things that will happen if you allow your domain name to expire.  What they don’t tell you is that they are not CURRENTLY your domain name registrar.  They include a post card which, if you fill it out and send it to them will make them your domain name registrar. Tim Schlee wrote about this back in 2014 in his post Don’t Get Duped by the Domain Registry of America: How to Avoid Web Domain Scams.  Tim points out how falling for this scam can lead to you paying more for your yearly domain name registration fee.

I’m not a fan for paying more without any reason, which is what happens when you switch your domain name registration to Domain Name Registry of America.  I wish that paying more was the worst thing that can happen.  If you’ve got a low traffic website, then that is probably the extent of the damage you’ll suffer.

Unfortunately, one of my former clients fell for this scam a few years ago.  Her website was getting thousands of visitors each month on very lucrative keywords when she filled out the form and transferred her domain name to Domain Name Registry of America.   The way I learned what she had done was she contacted me asking what I had done to her website.

She noticed she hadn’t gotten any prospective client inquiries from her website contact form and set out to find out why. When she typed in her domain name, she was shocked to see that instead of her website, there was a page displaying PPC advertising links and display ads.  She thought I had done this, but I of course, I hadn’t.  So, I went to work to find out what had happened.  The first thing I did was to check her DNS settings.  That’s when I saw that she was no longer the Administrative contact for her domain name and that Domain Name Registry of America was the new registrar for her domain name.  Her DNS settings had been changed, thus the reason why she wasn’t seeing her website associated with her domain name anymore.

Since I had received DOZENS of these notices in the mail, I knew what had happened.

Here’s the really evil part: paying more for her domain name was just the beginning.  It turned out that as part of the transfer process, she had given them permission to remove her as the Administrative contact for her domain name.   Because of this change, there was no way for her to transfer her domain name to a reputable registrar.

She became quite cross with me when I suggested she hire a lawyer to sort this matter out.  Instead, she contacted Domain Name Registry of America and ask them to change her DNS settings so her domain name would once again display her website.  They did, but a few months later her domain name was once again pointing to the Adsense page.

It’s one thing to pay more for your domain name registration, it’s another to pay for a domain name to point to someone else’s Adsense page.  At this point, my client threw up her hands and gave up on having a website for her business.

This is why I encourage ALL of my clients to contact me any time they have a question about their domain name registration.   As a result, I’ve been able to thwart many of these scamming attempts.

I think it’s important to point out that these domain name registrar transfer emails are quite persuasive.  They’re also carefully composed.  They tell you what will happen if your domain name expires.  That part is true.  What they leave out is that they aren’t the current registrar.   They use terms like, “we reserve the right” even though they have no rights.  That is unless you assign them to them by giving them your credit card information.  Get this, the WebUpDomain site even uses https: to securely process your credit card payment.

So without further ado, here’s a screenshot of the ransom – er – I mean “expiration” notice.
Here’s the body of the message:

Message Body:
Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any financial loss, data loss, downgrade in search engine rankings, missed customers, undeliverable email or any other damages that you may suffer upon the expiration of acumenwebservices.com. For more information please refer to section 17.c.1a of our User Agreement.

This is your final notice to renew [domain name]

LINK TO SECURE WEBSITE TO PROCESS YOUR PAYMENT.  (Note – well played WEBUPDOMAIN.  You purchased an SSL certificate to securely process the payment that will transfer the domain name to your registry service.  You’ll steal my domain name, but use a secure website to process the payment.  Well played.)

In the event that [domain name] expires, we reserve the right to offer your listing to competing businesses in the same niche and region after 3 business days on an auction basis.

This is the final communication that we are required to send out regarding the expiration of [domain name]

Secure Online Payment:

SECOND LINK TO SECURE WEBSITE TO PROCESS YOUR PAYMENT.

All services will be automatically restored on [domain name] if payment is received in full before expiration. Thank you for your cooperation.

YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Your domain name registrar will NEVER contact you using either snail mail OR your website’s contact form.

If you don’t know who your domain name registrar is, do a WHOIS search for your domain name.  Your domain name registrar will be listed there unless you have paid to have your contact information made private.  This will also show you when your domain name was created and when it will expire.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOLLOWS:

What makes this so insidious is that they used your contact form to send this to you.   It’s a red flag that says, “THIS IS A SCAM!”  However, in the immortal words of BoJack Horseman, “When you’re wearing rose colored glasses, red flags just look like flags.”

When you get this type of garbage coming from your contact form DO NOT mark it as spam.  Why?  Because the message was sent from your website.  If you mark this message as spam in your Gmail, you’re telling Google not to trust emails from YOUR website.

Best case scenario, you’ll never see any messages from your contact form again because they’re landing in your spam folder.

Worst case scenario, your site is blacklisted for spam.

Stay vigilant World-Weary WordPress Web Warriors!

Is it time to convert your website to a blog?

When I launched Virtual Impax in 1997 – I was creating traditional “set it and forget it” static websites for business owners.   After all, straight HTML websites were “cutting edge” technology at the time.  As time and technology progressed – blogs began taking the internet by storm.  When it became obvious that the search engines actually PREFERRED content published to a properly set up self hosted WordPress blog – I began converting my existing clients’ websites to blogs.   What follows are the three most popular questions I encountered as I approached my clients about converting their static HTML websites into blogs.

What’s the difference between a website and a blog?

Quite honestly – from the visitor’s point of view – there’s very little “difference” between a website and blog.  As a matter of fact, many of my clients weren’t even AWARE that some of the websites they frequently visited were actually blogs.

Blogs began as “content management systems”…. which is just another way of saying that blogs were created to make publishing content to the web fast and easy.

See – in the early days of the internet – in order to publish content to the web, you had to be able to not only write well, you also had to be able to code in HTML and use FTP software to get your html masterpiece from your computer onto the web.  That meant that business owners would hire a web developer – like me – to create a website for their business.  However, if that business owner wanted to make CHANGES to the website – he/she once again had to contact me and pay me to make the changes.

It was a cumbersome process – and one that was literally crying out for an easy to use web publishing solution.  Microsoft sold millions of copies of the WYSIWYG HTML Editor Front Page as one “solution” to the problem – however that solution -like virtually every other “easy to use” web publishing solution –  came with it’s own set of problems.  The most significant problem with these so called “user friendly” software solutions was that the websites created were not only “not so easy”  – but they were also ineffective.  See the websites created with most DIY easy to use publishing software are often difficult for the search engines to  index.  Since the search engines drive most of the traffic on the web – using an “easy to publish” software solution often lead to creating a website that was ignored by the search engines.

Enter the blog.  In the earliest days of blogging – this easy to use publishing option was originally used by web pioneers to journal.  However, as time went on – many internet marketing experts discovered that the content created using blog software – most notably WordPress – was getting favorable treatment by various search engines.  Many internet marketing gurus began touting the “magic” of blogging.

For webmasters who had previously been doing things “the hard way” – blogging was like magic.  Suddenly – building a massive web presence became easy.  The blog’s flat architecture made navigation a breeze.    However, it wasn’t just web savvy webmasters who appreciated the ease of publishing content to the web using a blog – business owners discovered how easy it was to use the web to build their business by using a blog.

So the primary difference between a “website” and a “blog” from a business owner’s point of view is that a business blog is actually just an easy to use website which can feature informative articles in addition to the “standard” information communicated with a business website.

Is it time to convert your website to a blog?

The answer – “Maybe.”

If your current website is currently enjoying high SERPS (Search Engine Results PlacementS) on relevant keywords for your business – then DO NOT FIX WHAT IS NOT BROKEN!  Feel free to ADD a blog to such a website – but if the search engine gods have chosen to smile on your HTML business website – don’t try to fix what truly isn’t broken.

How can you tell if your business website is enjoying high SERPS on relevant keyword terms?  Does your website get a lot of traffic? Are customers regularly contacting you via your website?   If the answer to either of these questions is “yes” – then you may want to consider ADDING a supplemental business blog to your already thriving business website.

Most business websites however do NOT fall into this category.  Many don’t even rank highly for the business name – let alone for terms potential customers may use to find the products and services offered by the company.  When that’s the case – converting a low performing static website into a blog can be the best investment a business owner can make.

What are the other advantages of converting a static website into a blog?

One of the reasons I began converting my clients’ traditional static websites into blogs is that they came to me asking for a “web site makeover”. Websites are like fashion – and what was once “trendy” begins looking dated after only a few years.

One of the biggest selling points for converting a traditional website into a blog is how EASY it is to change the appearance of a blog.

In a “traditional” website – the design elements are part of the web page DNA. In order to change the colors or images on a large HTML based site – each page has to be created over again. Meanwhile, changing the “look” of a blog is as easy as installing a new theme. Themes govern the “look” of a blog. I often tell clients that while changing the look of a traditional website is a lot like trying to change a tattoo – changing a blog’s “theme” is as easy changing your clothes. That means – when your business blog begins to look “dated” you can quickly and economically “change” the theme instead of investing in a total site overhaul.

Since blogs are better – are they more expensive to create than websites?

The answer is “NO!” – launching a business blog is actually a FRACTION of the cost of hiring a professional to create a traditional HTML website.  Not only are blogs easier to set up than a traditional website – they’re easier to change the appearance and they’re easier to update.

Are there any downsides to using a blog?

There is one significant disadvantage to a blog over a standard HTML website and that is that WordPress blogs must be frequently updated to remain secure.

Remember – WordPress blogs have an unfair advantage when it comes to creating search engine friendly content for the web and since they operate on a fairly easy to use interface – it makes security a pressing issue. Keeping your WordPress blog up to date is the best defense against the evil doers on the web who would love nothing better than hijack your business blog’s enviable SERPS. Acumen Web Services offers “Cyber Angel” hosting which automatically updates WordPress for our clients – but if you choose to take on the task of converting your website to a blog on your own – be aware that keeping your installation of WordPress up to date is an ESSENTIAL part of blog ownership.

Is it time to convert your website to a blog?  If it is – contact us for more information about how easy this process can be.

Start a Business Blog

So what’s involved with starting a business blog?

Many business owners are surprised at how easy business blogs are to use.  Often it’s the fear of the unknown that creates the biggest barrier to business blogging.

For many business owners, once the initial business blog set up is complete – business blogging is as simple as sending an email.

When you blog for your business – the content you write becomes part of the every growing fabric of the web.  Those blog posts often create what is known in SEO circles as “long tail keyword” content.

Long tail keywords are search terms which don’t get a lot of “action”.  While a word like “chiropractor” is included in thousands of searches every hour – long tail keywords like “Boca Raton chiropractor” don’t get searched for very often.

However, if you’re a chiropractor in Boca Raton, Florida – guess which keyword term is more valuable in building your practice?

That’s the real “magic” of business blogging.

When you start a business blog and begin writing two or three articles a week – you’ll be creating blog posts – a.k.a. articles – that naturally contain those long tail keywords.

Those business blog posts are viewed by the search engines as individual web pages – and those pages are indexed just like any other web page.  Only – there’s a difference.  A HUGE difference.

See, when you create web pages with many of the easy to use web site editors – the resulting web pages aren’t easy for the search engines to index and catalog.   In some cases, the code those WYSIWYG web editors use to create those beautiful web pages are down right ugly from the search engines’ point of view.

So that’s why – when you start a business blog – it’s like creating dozens of search engine web pages over the course of a year.

Even better is that as you create those articles – when a prospective customer (or in the case of the Boca chiropractor – patient) finds your business blog posts – they’ll be finding valuable information they were heading online to find in the first place.

Business which need to educate consumers are the best candidates for starting a business blog.

Business blogging is perfect for your business if you’ve ever thought,

“If people knew 1/3 of what they need to know  about [insert your business here] – they’d choose our company hands down.”

Business blogs are a GREAT way to provide the essential information your prospective customers need to know to make the best buying decision.  When you use your business blog to educate – to entertain – and to inform – you’ll soon discover what all the fuss is about business blogging.