3/13/15 Update: Thieves are stealing company web addresses, so please be wary of responding to suspicious "phishing" emails asking you to renew your domain or provide other sensitive account information. Also, guard and take responsibility for your own account user names and passwords.
More details about "Thieves Steal Company Web Addresses" here.
5/4/14 Update to blog article originally published in November 2009.
There's always someone willing to part you from your hard-earned money or steal your identity. Domain name scammers are among them! These nasty Internet denizens will send you an official looking letter or email with dire admonitions that your domain is about to expire and you must renew or transfer your domain name with them (or risk losing it forever).
One of our customers got taken by this scam, and his domain expired anyway! That's because the company (Domain Renewal Group) did not renew or transfer his domain; they simply took his $30 check and cashed it! Fortunately, were were able to renew his domain with his official registrar. Our customer may have been lucky only to lose his money. Some of these scammers take much more because they are identity thieves, trolling for credit card and other valuable information!
5/2014 Update: A customer received a letter from Domain Registry Services (https://www.droa.com/index.asp), paid for 10 years and a transfer at high cost. She learned it was a mistake to respond to the letter, and now must hassle to get her money back. Her domains are already registered elsewhere for much less money, and there is no need to transfer them. She simply needs to renew with her current domain regstrar and all will be well.
Unless you are 100% sure they are legit, do not respond to these letters!
If you receive a letter about renewing your domain name — especially if you don't recognize the company as YOUR domain registrar — please contact us right away, before you send a check or give them your credit card information. We'll try to verify whether the communication is a legitimate message from your current domain registrar. (As an aside, most domain renewals cost about $10 per year. If yours costs significantly more, ask us about transferring your domain to another registrar.)
All this said, please do not ignore an expiring domain! You've invested time, money, and Goodwill in your domain name, so it's important to stay on top of expiration dates and keep your domain registration current. Also be aware that if a domain expires, no one can access your website until the domain registration is updated or the site is moved to a new domain name. And if someone happens to grab your domain after it has expired, you probably will be unable to retrieve it.
For some specific details about this domain scamming problem, check out this link.
Want to know more about domain scammers? Search Google for "domain renewal scam" or type the name of the company that has sent you a letter (between quotation marks) and add the word scam, like this:
"Domain Renewal Group" scam