Garve Scott-Lodge's

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The Nominet Reminder (Dot UK) Scam*

31st August 2020

* It's not a scam, but has some similarities .

Nominet is the organisation which controls most domains ending in .uk. For example:

etc. If you have a domain such as joebloggsplumber.co.uk you will have registered it through a 3rd party like 123-Reg, GoDaddy or Ionos, but the overall management is done by Nominet, and part of your fee goes to them.

Back in 2014 Nominet came up with a great idea! Why don't we supply .uk domains? So Joe Bloggs the Plumber could have joebloggsplumber.uk. Note the difference! There's no .co or .org part in there. The domain simply ends in .uk.

Why did they do this? Well, they might say to provide more choice, but being of a cynical nature I'd think it was purely to make more money.

So far that's relatively harmless, but what happened next has led to one of the banes of my life and is (in some cases) *pretty damn close to a scam.

In 2014 Nominet decided to team up with some of the big registrars to give away the .uk domains to owners of the .co.uk domains, so even though he had never asked for it and didn't want it, Joe Bloggs the Plumber became the 'owner' of joebloggsplumber.uk. For free! Well, free for a while...

So for years these domains have existed but most people didn't know they existed and almost nobody at all actually used them for anything useful.

I'm a web programmer, not a domain registrar, but hundreds of my clients have .co.uk or .org.uk domains. And if they have a question about their domain they often email or call me about it, because I'm easier to get hold of than Ionos. And normally I don't mind - it's a good opportunity to have a chat about their websites and discuss any changes they might need.

But over the past year or so I've started to get angry. Why? Because my clients are phoning me up having received an email similar to:-

From: "Nominet Reminder" 			
To: [email protected]
Sent: Friday, 28 Aug, 20 At 18:22
Subject: Your domain name joebloggsplumber.uk will be cancelled in 7 days
Dear Joe Bloggs,

Your domain name (website address): joebloggsplumber.uk has not been 
renewed and will be cancelled in the next 7 days unless renewed.

As your domain name has been suspended, any associated services 
including websites and related email addresses will no longer work.

To renew you must contact your domain name provider now (this is who you 
registered it through originally). Their contact details are below:

Domain Name Provider: 1AND1
https://www.ionos.co.uk 			
If the domain name displayed in this notice is the .uk version of your 
existing .co.uk domain name, IONOS has registered this on your behalf as 
part of Nominet's Right of Registration campaign.
			

Joe hasn't read the email closely enough to realise it's not about his .co.uk domain, he's understandably too busy, and even if he wasn't he's not going to spot the missing .co. All that catches his eye is that your domain name has been suspended and websites and related email addresses will no longer work . As far as Joe's concerned he only has one domain and one website! So Joe phones me in a panic.

And I have to spend 5 or 10 minutes explaining that his website is fine and he can ignore the email. It's not the kind of time I feel comfortable charging Joe for, so I'm in effect wasting my time doing work because Nominet (and Ionos, 123-Reg etc) want to scare people into spending money with them.

And as I say, if this was one or two clients it'd be fine, but it's dozens every month, which is bloody annoying. It's not my clients' fault, just Nominet and its partners.

I've written this article so I can quickly point my clients at it, but if other people stumble across it and realise they can (almost certainly) just ignore the 'Nominet Reminder' and not bother their own web developers that would be nice.

* Why do I say it's similar to a scam? Because there are a number of nasty companies who send out domain registration reminders which are very similar to the email above trying to scare website owners into registering their domain with them instead of just waiting until their normal registrars renew it. If Nominet want to distinguish themselves from these scammers then the very first line of their email should read something like Don't worry! This is NOT an email about your .co.uk domain.