If you have a website BEWARE of scammy “renewals” that you’ll get in the mail and online. This is a VERY common scam where the perp sends a fake renewal note saying your domain will expire and you need to pay up. Typically, these are real companies that will transfer your domain to their higher priced services.
Yes, this should be illegal but I think the fine print protects these SOBs. How to check? Be sure you understand the difference between a “registrar”, a “hosting company”, and your “webmaster”. GoDaddy is the biggest “registrar” and also is a common “hosting company”. Your “Webmaster” is the person who updates your website. Many webmasters do NOT handle your “domain name registration”. If you don’t renew the domain name (e.g. www.yourname.com) you will usually lose it. A good trick is to pay your registration fee forward for 10 years – this reduces problems. Also note you should not be paying more than about $10 per year for registration fees. “Network Solutions” still manages to squeeze people for much more because they simply don’t realize they can move the domain to other registrars. Soon, Google will enter the registration business and is likely to provide excellent, cheap services.