Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Good Question: What is the difference between a dot-com and a dot-org?
(KUTV) What do the Utah Food Bank, the Humane Society of Utah and the American Red Cross all have in common?
Each is a charitable, non-profit organization and each of their websites ends with the same three letters: O,R and G. Dot-ORG is a domain that makes these and countless other charitable organizations stand out online.
And many people we asked told us that they are under the impression that to get a dot-ORG domain a registrant must be a non-profit organization.
That's was the original intent according to Brandon Doyle who owns Provo based Walaroo Media which specializes in online marketing. Doyle says that in the early days of the internet, dot-COM was intended to be used for commercial organizations and dot-ORG was for non-commercial use.
"[Dot-ORG is] supposed to be used for real,reputable organizations," he said.
But that intent was never made into a law or even a rule - it was more of a guideline. And it's a guideline that Doyle says is ignored all the time.
"Anyone can have a dot-ORG if they want [and] if it's not already taken," Doyle said.
Could it really be that easy? Yes. Through godaddy.com, it took me about 5 minutes and cost me about $70 and just like that, I now own and have published getgephardt.org. I was never asked if I am with a charity or some sort of organization. I was only asked for my credit card number.
There have been countless reports of scammers using tragic news stories to try and fool consumers onto opening their wallets; the latest came this week as crooks have been tricking philanthropic people into giving them money under the guise that it's going to help those impacted by the typhoon in the Philippians.
Doyle warns that, while there are many honest to goodness charities which proudly boast their dot-ORG domains, the domain itself means nothing.
"With all of the spammy stuff that happens online and all of the scams, you have to be careful," he said.
Even if a dot-ORG isn't asking for money, be careful giving any website your personal information unless you know exactly to whom you're giving it. The F.B.I. says the fastest growing crime in the country is identity theft.
By Matt Gephardt
Edited by Dave Rowan
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)