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If you own a domain, chances are that you’ve received a very formal, authoritative-looking letter in the mail from what you may have presumed to be the very formal, authoritative-looking Domain Registry of Canada. It came in a brown, #10 Kraft envelope, similar to what you would see from the Province or Canada Revenue Agency, and it also included a return envelope. The letter inside and the form look like something you’d pick up at a Service Canada office. So why does the Government of Canada want me to register my domain with them?

The answer is, they don’t. The Domain Registry of Canada has nothing to do with the Canadian government. It is a private enterprise that has designed their materials after various government agencies. Many people have unwittingly transferred the domain to this organization, assuming that this was just the next step in owning a domain name. It is likely that people may not fully understand the domain registration process and, lured into a false sense of security of the assumed Canadian government affiliation, fill out the appropriate forms and drop it in the mail.

Am I really going to “Lose my online identity?”

This letter uses its authoritative appearance, fear and urgency mixed with industry jargon to manipulate and confuse readers into taking action. The wording, while aggressive with the fear tactics, never actually states that you MUST register with DRoC, but that is only really apparent after careful analysis and can easily be missed if you’re learning the ropes.

No, you are not going to lose your domain if you don’t respond to this. This is the equivalent of say, Telus telling you that you won’t be able to make phone calls if you don’t pay your Rogers bill, but if you switch to Telus and pay them, you can make all the calls you want. As you have in the past, you can renew your domain with your current registrar and experience no interruption of service. Your registrar will likely send you over five emails to remind you when your renewal is due so it’s unlikely you will miss it.

Is this a scam?

I wouldn’t say this is a scam per se, as I believe they do deliver on what they sell you, but there is definitely trickery afoot. The Domain Registry of Canada may be a legitimate business, but their way of going about it goes beyond questionable advertising practices and definitely leaves a fishy aftertaste.

How can I protect myself and my domain from scams?

  1. Consult with a professional. If you ever receive correspondence and you’re unsure of its legitimacy, consult your friendly website developer. We don’t like bullies in our industry and most reputable businesses would be interested in taking the time to expose scammy activity, even if it only means saving someone a $40 and a headache.
  2. Ensure that your domain name is locked. Keeping your domain locked at the registrar level ensures that nobody can initiate a transfer.
  3. Take advantage of the privacy features your domain registrar offers. It may cost you an additional few dollars per year, but it makes your personal information, as it relates to the domain registration, like an unlisted number. Your domain is still visible, but your personal information at the database level is hidden.

If you have any questions about domain registration, transfers or renewals, please contact us today.

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