Unsolicited sales of domain names: do not fall for it

Business owners continue to be targeted by unsolicited domain name providers. Using aggressive sales techniques, scammers pressure the target to register their domain name in another extension, such as .info or .com. Often at considerable cost. Find out how to protect yourself from this.

Scammers exploit the fear that a competitor will run off with your domain name. This type of offering is also known as domain name fraud. Offering a domain name for a relatively high price is not prohibited, and scammers take advantage of this. They quickly make a lot of money selling a domain name you do not need.

Spotting dubious sales of domain names

The scammer...

  • ... contacts you unsolicited. They usually do this by phone, but sometimes by email or post.
  • ... pretends to be an independent regulator or hosting party, but is not registered with the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands (Stichting Internet Domeinnaam Registratie, SIDN).
  • ... refers to the 'right of first registration' or other legal terms. This right does not exist.
  • ... puts pressure on you to agree right away, and to secure a domain name for a period of several years.
  • ... charges much higher rates than you normally pay. Most domain names are usually registered for anywhere between €4 and €15 per year.

This is how domain name fraud works

In domain name fraud, a provider tells you that someone wants to register your domain name with a different extension, such as .info or .com. The scammer tells you that, for privacy reasons, they cannot give the applicant’s name but that they operate in the same industry as your company.

You do not want a competitor to run off with your domain name. Scammers use this to their advantage. They indicate that, as the holder of the .nl extension, you have the 'first right of registration'. Aggressively, they tell you that you can prevent the so-called competitor from registering the same domain name in another extension by buying this extra domain name yourself. They say that, if you do not, they will sell the domain name to someone else.

Once you say “yes” on the phone, you will get a contract by email or WhatsApp. A verbal agreement is also legally valid. So you are soon stuck with a subscription, which will cost a lot every year. In some cases, as much as 10 or 15 times higher than market rates. And it is often a long-term contract, up to 15 years.

Preventing domain name fraud

  • Make sure your staff is aware of these practices.
  • Do not allow yourself to be pressured over the phone. Cut off the conversation and indicate that you are not interested.
  • Be suspicious if someone approaches you unsolicited, and never simply agree to a proposal. Always ask for a written confirmation.
  • First, check whether the domain name you are offered is already registered. For .nl domain names, you can do this at SIDN. For .eu domain names, at EURid.eu; and for .com domain names, at Whois.com. Or you can just Google whois plus the domain extension.
  • Would you like to find out more? Just get in touch with your hosting company or web designer and ask whether the story you have heard is true.
  • Consider whether it is a risk if another company registers your domain name with a different extension. If it is, record your domain names with the various extensions in advance.
  • Have you registered your brand name or trade name, and has it been in use for a while? Other providers who will use a similar name in your region or industry will not be allowed to do so if it causes confusion with your trade name or brand. The one who first registers the name (trademark) or uses it (trade name) has the oldest rights.
  • Are you planning to do business abroad? Register foreign domains in advance, such as .com, .eu, .de, or .fr.
  • Do not let your domain name expire. This prevents another company from registering your vacant domain name. Opt for a long registration period and automatic renewal.

You can find more tips on SIDN’s website.


Unsolicited telephone sales to natural persons such as consumers, eenmanszaken (sole proprietorships), vofs (general partnerships), and maatschappen (partnerships) have been banned since 1 July 2021. This prohibition does not apply to approaching legal entities such as bvs (private limited companies) or stichtingen (foundations). Foreign providers must also abide by Dutch law when contacting companies or organisations in the Netherlands.

Have you already entered into an agreement you did not want?

If you have agreed to a deal but you now want to get out of it, there are a number of things you can do.


Have you been called by an aggressive domain-name seller? Reject the offer. Report what happened to the Fraud Helpdesk (in Dutch), giving as much information as possible, such as the seller’s name, phone number, and email address. Perhaps there are already more reports on this provider, or it could be that there is a new spate of calls. Either way, the Fraud Helpdesk can help you. They will tell you what to do if the provider has sent you a contract.

Making an objection

Have you entered into an agreement? Read the general terms and conditions of the agreement carefully. Sometimes you can still cancel the contract within 24 hours or a few days. Object to the agreement by registered letter. State clearly that you disagree with how things have proceeded. And that you want to dissolve the contract on the grounds of mistake, fraud, or abuse of circumstances. Keep as evidence all incoming and outgoing correspondence, such as letters and emails. This is in case it comes to legal proceedings.

Seek legal aid and file a report

Are you unable to cancel the agreement yourself? In that case, hire a lawyer to release you from it. Perhaps you belong to a trade association or have insurance that covers legal expenses, so that you can seek legal help. Are you a victim of fraud? File a report with the police. The more business owners file a report, the more this type of fraud will get police attention. You may feel scammed even though it is not a scam by law. Even if you are in doubt about this, you can call the police. The police will tell you whether you should report it, and if so, how.