Domain name scams and how to spot them
Monday, July 7, 2014
With the growth in internet use, domain names have also grown in popularity, with thousands of domains being registered around the world every day. As with anything that's popular, the domain name industry has attracted its fair share of scammers and con artists. Unfortunately, unsuspecting clients of ours have been conned into registering domains under the assumption they were renewing an exisiting domain.
Most (if not all) Australian domain name providers will conduct business with their clients online - this includes registrations, renewals or transfers. Some unscrupulous operators are looking up ownership details of .com.au domain owners, and then generating official-looking forms that look similar to invoices, and posting these out. The scam in this case is that the invoice is not for renewing the .com.au domain name with the current registrar, it's actually to register the .com or another alternative version of the domain with them at an inflated price.
It pays to read the fine print and in any case, a legitimate operator is unlikely to post you a paper-based form requesting your credit card details. The paperwork is carefully constructed to look like a renewal of your existing domain name, using your existing business details and text such as "Domain name available". With domain names only being renewed every year or biennially in the case of .com.au domains, it's easy to forget basic details such as which company you registered the original domain with in the first place.
There are a range of companies that operate this scam or similar versions of it and if you receive misleading correspondence you can contact auDA, the domain name industry body. It's also worth checking the consumer alerts on their web site to see if they are already aware of the company concerned.
- Domain name renewal scams (ACCC SCAMwatch)
- Domain name scams (Consumer Affairs Victoria)
- Domain name scams (Wikipedia)