A company named the Internet Corporation Listing Service (ICLS.net) continues to send out invoices in the USPS mail that are fake. The invoice they sent looks like the one I received above, which claims to be for $259 for a five year website search engine listing, from August 15, 2023 to August 15, 2028. the problem is that companies with websites (or even people such as myself) with domain names and websites should not pay for a search engine listing. Such a listing isn’t required that you pay, as the search engines such as Google and Bing actually will list your website for free.
The company named “Internet Corporation Listing Service” has been operating since 2002, when their website looked like this and they offered “search engine submission” services:
The company used to use a Bahamas address:
Internet Corporation Listing Service
33 Harbour Bay Plaza, Suite 1220
P.O. Box CR56766
But now, according to the fake invoice I received in the mail and their website, they have moved to a New York City address:
Internet Corporation Listing Service
243 5th Avenue, Suite 533
New York, NY 10016-8703
Let’s take a look at the actual services that the $259 invoice apparently gets you. I’ve added my comments to each item listed on the invoice:
- Domain name submission to 25 established search engines.
- Initial and quarterly search engine positions and ranking reports sent to you via email for eight keyword/phrase listing that you select from 25 major search engines.
First off, they’re back to telling you that you’re paying for “domain name submission” to search engines. I can’t personally name 25 search engines. Let alone 25 established ones. You don’t have to submit your website to the search engines by paying for it. With Google, you can actually just verify you’re the website owner and create a Google Search Console account–they will give you information, such as ranking data, and position data for up to 1,000 keywords for free. Besides, so many people have written a lot about how “search engine submission” is a scam: Search engine submission is a part of the top 10 scams.
Secondly, “initial and quarterly search engine position and ranking reports” is not something you have to pay for. As I mentioned, you can get this for free via Google Search Console, and you can get it via Bing Webmaster Tools as well. Just verify you’re the website owner and they give you the data for free.
How Did they Get Your Info?
The ICLS company usually buys or somehow acquires the names and addresses from the WHOIS data that is public data. If you register a domain name, most likely the domain name registrar is going to ask you if you want your contact information (ownership information) listed publicly or if you want to put it under whois privacy. I actually do NOT recommend that you put the domain name ownership information under whois privacy at your registrar–use you real contact information. If you can use a business address (which is what I do), such as company address or UPS Store address, or virtual office address, then that’s even better. I’ve written about not using whois privacy on your domain name before–it can cause issues if there’s a problem with the ownership of your domain name.
In this case, they’re targeting my BillHartzer.com domain name, and they’ve sent a paper invoice in the USPS mail to my company address on the WHOIS record of the domain name. Of course this is a mistake on their part–I don’t think they should have sent ME one of their fake invoices.
Previously, as you might recall, I received a fake invoice for website hosting from Web Host Agents. I can’t go into details, but I happen to know that the owner of Web Host Agents was investigated and charged by the USPIS earlier this year. Sending fake invoices through the USPS mail system and not delivering what you promise is a Federal Crime.
If you have paid the Internet Corporation Listing Service their fee of $259 (or any other amount because you got their invoice), then I would like to hear about your experience. I’d like to know if you actually received the services of “search engine submission to 25 established search engines” and ranking and positioning reports. I’d like to see the reports if they actually exist.
Here’s more about why we know the ICLS service is deceptive:
The Deceptive Reality of the Internet Corporation Listing Service: Unveiling the Search Engine Submission Scam
In the vast expanse of the digital world, where websites compete for visibility and online presence, services promising to enhance search engine rankings and boost website traffic have become a staple. One such service that has raised eyebrows and elicited skepticism is the Internet Corporation Listing Service, which claims to submit your website to 25 search engines. While this might sound like a convenient shortcut to better online visibility, a closer examination reveals that this service is nothing more than a scam designed to prey on the uninformed.
Understanding Search Engine Submission
Before diving into the intricacies of the Internet Corporation Listing Service and its deceptive practices, it’s important to understand the concept of search engine submission. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have sophisticated algorithms that automatically discover and index new websites as they crawl the web. This means that submitting your website to search engines manually is not only unnecessary but can also raise suspicions.
The Promise of the Internet Corporation Listing Service
The Internet Corporation Listing Service claims to provide a hassle-free way to submit your website to 25 search engines. The allure of such a service lies in the perceived convenience and potential benefits of wider exposure. However, this is where the scam begins to unravel.
Red Flags and Deceptive Tactics
- Unnecessary Service: As mentioned earlier, modern search engines automatically discover and index new websites through their crawling processes. Submitting your website manually is redundant and unnecessary.
- Lack of Transparency: The Internet Corporation Listing Service often lacks transparency regarding the actual search engines to which they submit your website. Their list of search engines might contain obscure and irrelevant ones that hold little to no significance in terms of online visibility.
- Outdated Tactics: The claim of submitting to 25 search engines hints at outdated practices. Many of the listed search engines might be obsolete or no longer in use.
- Inflated Claims: The service often makes grand promises of improved search engine rankings and increased website traffic, which are unlikely to be achieved through such a simple and limited action.
- Fee Structure: The Internet Corporation Listing Service usually charges a fee for their service, which is disproportionate to the negligible effort required to submit a website manually to search engines.
The Reality Check
- No Guaranteed Results: Submitting your website to a handful of search engines will not guarantee improved rankings or increased traffic. Search engine optimization (SEO) involves a complex interplay of factors that require comprehensive strategies, not quick-fix solutions.
- Potential Harm: Some dubious search engine submission services may even use black-hat SEO tactics, which can lead to your website being penalized or even blacklisted by reputable search engines.
- Better Alternatives: Instead of wasting resources on questionable services, invest time and effort in legitimate SEO practices. These include creating high-quality content, optimizing your website for search engines, building relevant backlinks, and engaging with your target audience through social media and other channels.
In the ever-evolving landscape of the internet, it’s essential to approach services promising quick fixes with caution. The Internet Corporation Listing Service’s claim of submitting your website to 25 search engines is a clear example of a scam that preys on individuals seeking an easy way to boost their online presence. Rather than falling for such deceptive tactics, website owners are better off investing their resources in authentic and proven SEO strategies that will yield sustainable and meaningful results over time. Remember, there are no shortcuts to success in the digital realm; genuine effort and strategic planning are the keys to thriving in the online world.
Want to see a copy of the full invoice that I received from the Internet Corporation Listing Service? You can download it as a PDF file here:
Of course, if you’re associated with the Internet Corporation Listing Service or own the Internet Corporation Listing Service, I’d love to hear from you. I’d like to understand why you don’t think that sending these fake invoices is not a scam.