Have you ever let a domain name registration expire without renewing, only to find it’s been turned into an ad farm?
Congratulations — you’ve just found a domain name squatter!
Domain name squatters (they prefer the terms “investors” or “domainers”) often grab domain names after they are dropped in hopes that the original owners will want the name back badly enough to pay up big, or that they’ll be able to sell it to someone else. In the meantime, they sell ads on their squatted domains. Domain name squatters also do the same thing with new domains, or “typo” versions of popular domains.
If you contact the owner of a squatted domain, they may generously offer to sell you the domain for some outrageous amount of money — $1,000 or more. (If they’re making money from the ads, they may refuse to sell, or the price may get really ridiculous.)
The reason squatters can get away with this sort of thing is that the dispute process for regaining control over a lost or trademarked domain is very expensive and cumbersome — the fees just to file a dispute with an ICANN-approved arbitrator start at $1,300, and you’ll likely need legal assistance. Most people in this situation just walk away and use some other domain name, but some decide to pay up just to get the ordeal over with.
The moral of this story?
Alway remember that your credit union’s domain names are valuable brand assets, and your CU’s reputation could be affected if you lose control of them.
When you register domain names or have someone register them for you, make sure there’s a procedure in place to keep track of them over the years and keep them renewed as long as they’re needed. Be sure to preserve registrar passwords and usernames, and make sure credit cards used for registrations are kept up to date as well. Make sure the credit union is listed as the owner, not the person registering the domain, and that a live email address at the credit union is listed as the owner and/or admin contact.
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