Unsolicited sales of domain names: do not fall for it

Unsolicited, someone calls or emails you saying that a competitor wants to use your domain name, but ending in .info or. com. If you act quickly, you can register the name yourself. For a hefty sum of money. This is domain name fraud. Find out how to protect yourself against falling for this.

Scammers exploit the fear that a competitor will run off with your domain name. . Think, for example, of your website name, but with a different extension. A domain extension is the last part of a website address. The letters after the final dot, such as ‘.nl’ or ‘.com’. Using aggressive sales techniques, scammers pressure you into registering an expensive domain name. They quickly make a lot of money selling you a name that you do not need or can buy for much less through the official route. 

Spotting dubious sales of domain names

Are you not sure if you are dealing with domain name fraud? You can spot a suspicious seller if they:

Unfair contracts

Once you say “yes” in a coversation with scammers, you will be sent a contract by email or WhatsApp. A verbal agreement is also legally valid. So you are 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

  • Be suspicious if someone contacts you unsolicited and neversimply agree to a proposal. Always ask for a written confirmation.
  • Make sure your staff are 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.
  • 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 + domain extension.
  • 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. Are you planning to do business abroad, for example? If so, 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.

Have you registered your brand name or trade name, and has it been in use for a while? Other providers will not be allowed to use your name or  a very similar name if this causes confusion with your trade name or brand. 

Some telesales banned

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 ban 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 entered into an agreement you do 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.