This past June, the AICPA was awarded the .cpa (dot CPA) top-level (worldwide) domain which has been reserved exclusively for entities confirmed by the AICPA to be affiliated with the CPA profession.  This was done to promote long term confidence when visiting a website with the .cpa extension or receiving an email from a person with an email address ending in .cpa instead of .com.  The .cpa extension would be “restricted,” meaning that anyone utilizing .cpa would have been vetted and verified, which is NOT the case with .com extensions that are largely unrestricted. Today, there are over 352 million .com domains that are given out freely, increasingly allowing hackers to create “lookalike” websites and email addresses with slightly different .com names (SmithJonesCPAs.com vs. SmithJonesCPAz.com). Because .com names are unrestricted, these fake .com domains can be set up anonymously, further facilitating hacking and phishing efforts.

 

To move to the CPA restricted domain, the firm will transition from using their current .com address to a .cpa address, but this will help the firm in the long run by minimizing threats from fraudulent .com websites and will allow .cpa firms to be able to take advantage of future security protocols for top-level domains, further building trust. Firms will also be protected against “cybersquatters” that reserve the most common .com names (and try to sell them at a premium) as the AICPA will vet and only authorize proven CPA entities. Firms that currently have CPA as part of their domain name will have a more relevant and possibly shorter address which may further increase the firm’s brand as the CPA extension will be featured.  For example, SmithJonesCPAs would become SmithJones.cpa and their employee email addresses would be yourname@smithjones.cpa. Firms can continue to hold their .com domain and forward emails/web queries to their new .cpa domain as long as they keep their registration current.  According to CPA.com: “another benefit to trust and security is the brand benefits that firms will see with their .cpa domain transition. With an entry into the exclusive club of verified firms, firms (especially small firms) will have a competitive edge as they seek to serve new clients. Additionally, there are other marketing benefits of having a stronger online brand presence with .cpa domain which include being able to be found more easily online by your clients and prospects.”

 

The cost for a firm to reserve their .cpa domain is approximately $225. To find out more and register your firm during the early registration period, visit https://domains.cpa.com with .cpa domains being awarded beginning November 1, 2020!

 

This post originally appeared on the CPAFMA website

 

About the Author

Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Director of Firm Technology Strategy for Right Networks and works exclusively with accounting firms to optimize their internal production workflows within their tax, audit, client services and administrative areas. He can be contacted at 678-495-0508 or roman@rightnetworks.com.