There’s a domain sales con that’s been going around for quite a few years now, and it looks like it’s come back with a vengeance again. In the last few years, we’ve probably fielded over 500 calls from concerned clients asking for our advice on this one, and a recent spate of new enquiries has prompted us to write this article.
What’s the Con?
Basically, there appears to be two main variations of this con. In the first variation, a domain owner will get an email from somebody purporting to be in the domain sales business, telling them that somebody is trying to purchase “theirdomain.cn” or “theirdomain.nl” or something similar.
They’ll tell you that if you want to protect your domain name, you need to make your own purchase of that domain immediately. To get priority though, they’ll claim, you’ll need to buy it for 10 years though.
In the second variation, you’ll be told something similar, but the main point in this one will be that you’re losing out on market share by not registering this “.cn” or “.nl” version of your domain. (A .cn domain refers to a domain based in China, while .nl refers to the Netherlands.)
Unless you want to lose out on this opportunity, you’ll have to quickly buy the version of your domain name that they’re telling you about.
What You Need To Do
Nothing. In general, you can totally ignore these emails urging you to quickly register your domain name lest you lose out on something.
If you bought every possible variation of your domain name around the world, you probably wouldn’t be able to afford a website. It’d cost you hundreds of thousands of rands, and wouldn’t bring anything near a positive return on investment.
As we’ve advised in the past, the domain name you need is all down to the market that you’re planning on targeting. If you’re only selling to the South African market, then all you need is a .co.za domain.
The only time that you should consider a different TDL (top level domain) is if you have specific plans to target that country. Which will require its own, country-specific strategy.
The other potential option is to get a .com domain, which can be useful for commercial sites that target anybody. However, if you’re targeting a South African market, a local domain is usually considered more trustworthy by potential clients.
So unless you’re planning on branching out into China soon, we suggest you not worry about “yourdomain.cn” any time soon. And if you are, we’d suggest first contacting ICANN, (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) instead of replying to a random email scam that’s trying to convince you to register some version of your domain.