Many details about domains, including who they are registered to and when they will expire if not renewed, are publicly available (much like your name and number might appear in a phone book.)
iDNS makes its money by looking up the publicly available information about domains that will expire in a few months, and sending out a notice reminding you that you need to renew early, before your actual registrar would typically remind you. If you read very closely, you see that in the final paragraphs they say you can take advantage of a law that allows you to “choose which registrar you renew with” rather than being locked into the one you registered with originally. This is their sneaky way of “disclosing” that they are not your registrar, and you’d be switching to them if you renewed with them. They are, in short, attempting to steal your business without alerting you to the fact that you’d be making a change.
Now the scam part – the average cost of a .com domain name is currently $10 – $15, with discounts often being given if you renew for multiple years, making $8/year a possible cost. iDNS charges quadruple the going market rate for a .com domain.
Now, when you send them that money, they do renew your domain name, and they have not technically claimed to be your current registrar, and they even sort of told you that you’d be switching services if you renewed with them… But there’s no reason on earth you should have to pay these rates for an easily available and highly standardized service.
iDNS is banking on the fact that most people only engage with their domain registrar at most once a year, and so are prone to forgetting where they registered their domain. Most of us wait for courtesy notices from our registrar much like this one to alert us to the fact that it’s time to renew, and never stop to think that some other company might send a sound-alike “courtesy” notice instead! They are banking on the average consumer’s ignorance as to what the going rate for a domain name is in order to extract extremely high-rate custom from people who aren’t their customers.
If that isn’t predatory behavior, I don’t know what is.
If you’re concerned at all about your renewal, you can check with your original registrar. But whatever you do, steer clear of iDNS!