Since this just happened to someone’s client, I thought it’d be a good time to remind everyone to make sure that you set up your domain name to auto-renew and to make sure that there’s a valid credit card on file AT ALL TIMES.
If your domain expires and it is deleted from the registry, it is no longer your domain. That means that it becomes available for anyone who wants to register it… and I mean ANYONE!
It’s called Cybersquatting or “domain squatting” and it’s a term used to describe the registration or use of a domain name in bad-faith, with the intent to make a profit by either leasing or selling the domain name back to the “original owner” at a much higher price than a domain is usually priced.
In the case of the client I mentioned above, the people who grabbed the expired domain name wanted $14,000 to transfer it back to them. Yes, that’s right, $14,000 USD! In other cases, if your domain name is generating significant traffic, they’ll simply put a porn site in place – which happened to a RV Resort in NC.
Your domain name is the most important part of your branding, make sure you don’t lose it! Your website can be replaced – your domain name is significantly harder to replace.