Wednesday, May 25, 2016

E-gads! The slings & arrows of managing your Internet presence & domain name (aka URL).


21st Century Hamlet laments on Facebook:
To be, or not to be on the Internet with a website,
that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Internet claims,
Or to take arms against a sea of scams
And by opposing end them.
Well, dear Hamlet, only you can decide if going online with a website presence is right for you.

But if you decide to go forward, then, yes, you need to take up arms, expose scams and misinformation, and, thus by opposing them, end them.

It’s really not that complicated. Since forewarned is forearmed, take heed to the cautions and recommendations that follow.

Forsooth!

Protect your domain name with paper records

Choosing just the right domain name, also called a URL, is an art. You want something pithy and catchy that reflects who you are or what you are offering accurately, and is easy to remember.

There are several online vendors that will sign you up once you’ve decided on your domain name. Right now, the average fee to register a domain name for one year is about $15, more or less. Avoid anyone offering domain name registration for substantially more.

And once you’ve decided on a domain name, found the vendor you feel comfortable with, MAKE SURE YOU KEEP PAPER RECORDS OF EVERYTHING!

Yes, I know all caps is considered shouting. I am. BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO GET THIS!

Before you start shopping for your domain name registrar, webhost provider, and other online services, make a file folder, mark the tab prominently “INTERNET” or something related, and place in it printed records of every online or other purchase / transaction you make related to your online presence. This includes logins and passwords.

Be fastidious and diligent about keeping this file up to date and understanding clearly with whom your domain name is registered and where your website is parked and how to access them.

Fool me once & that’s probably all it takes

Why is keeping records important? Because there are sharks online (and everywhere else) who want to swindle you.

Recently I received two very official invoice-like mailings from a company called IDNS (Internet Domain Name Services). At the top the letters declared in bold type, “Domain Name Expiration Notice.”

The letters offered to renew the registrations for two of my domain names, including their “best value” rate of an outrageous $180 for 5 years. That’s a rate of $36 annually, more than twice the average available rate from legitimate, non-deceptive service providers.

The thing is, my domain names aren’t registered with IDNS and I’ve never done business with them ever.

Yes, this is a scam. It’s a perfectly legal, yet totally deceptive scam. And IDNS is only one of dozens of players. I get letters like this all the time.

They are counting on you not paying attention and not having records of your online transactions. Once you send them a check, you’re going to be held as a virtual hostage. Given that your domain name will be transferred from your legitimate provider, havoc will be unloosed on your website.

Blindly responding to these letters will cost you a lot of money -- all wasted -- and could cause you to lose control of your domain name(s) and associated websites.

If you’re going to go online you need to understand what’s involved, maintain careful records, and pay attention to these scam mailings.

By the way, they’ll also come after you through email and over the phone.

Misty water-colored mem’ries of...wait...it’ll come to me


Beyond the scum trying to scam you, there’s the problem of your memory. It will fail you.

What do I mean? Simply this. If you don’t keep careful, thorough paper records of your domain names, website host, etc., and think, “Oh, I’ll remember who they are.” You won’t.

I used to do website creation. I stopped offering this service many years ago. Many, many years ago.

Yet still, at least once a year, an old client contacts me asking if I know where they registered their domain name or how to access their website to make updates.

Seriously! They don’t have a clue. Sometimes I can help them, but not always.

Please, don’t be like them. Make a file. Keep it up to date.

Some more basic tips to survive online

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to be online, but you need to know enough to not be taken for a schmuck. Here are a few more tips to help you manage your online presence.

  • Don’t do business with those who make unsolicited phone calls selling any Internet-related services. Probably 99% of these cold-callers are scammers. Just hang up.
        
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Ask others who already have successful, professional websites who they are using for help. Seek out reputable, well-known companies. Talk to their customers.
        
  • If you get something that looks like a bill, check your records before making payments.
        
  • Before signing up with a service provider, Google their name to see if there are negative reports.
     
  • When you register a domain name, opt for the private registration option if it’s available.
       
  • Compare prices among various service providers. Avoid those who aren’t willing to offer upfront pricing, or whose prices are far above the average.
       
  • Learn basic concepts and terms involved with being online. Talk to your friends who work in IT. The more educated you are, the more protected you will be.
     
And, as always with anything, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t say yes to something you don’t really understand.

When it comes to the Internet, bad stuff happens. But you can protect yourself by being educated and alert. Don’t be a victim. Be smart.

AND MAKE SURE YOU KEEP PAPER RECORDS OF EVERYTHING!




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Beware of this company and their misleading mailings:
  • IDNS, 924 Bergen Avenue, Suite #289, Jersey City, NJ 07306-3018
Others warning about IDNS (Internet Domain Name Services):

Additional resources:


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What’s your experience with online service providers? Are there those you would recommend? How about those you would not recommend? Share your experiences and recommendations in the comments!

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