The ACCC Is About To Slap A Dodgy Aussie Domain Name Company

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The ACCC has instituted proceedings against the very inventively named Domain Name Corp and Domain Name Agency, also trading as Domain Name Register, for misleading Australian businesses. The companies in question, the ACCC alleges, effectively told businesses that they were renewing their existing website domain names when, in actual fact, they were being sold new, very slightly different domains with a creatively designed paper letter.

Scamwatch has called out this predatory practice before — it's a false billing scam, where individuals or businesses are sent letters that appear at first glance to be demanding payment due.

The Domain companies, ACCC says, sent 300,000 notices to businesses that looked like renewal invoices for companies' existing domain names, but that were actually for new domain names with .net.au or .com suffixes. The companies were invoicing businesses for $249 to $275, and that some businesses paid up thinking that they were bills actually due.

From the ACCC's deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper: "The ACCC alleges that because these notices looked like they were renewal invoices, many businesses paid them thinking they were simply renewing the domain name for their business. The ACCC is alleging that the businesses were instead unwittingly signing up for a new domain name ending in either a .net.au or .com suffix that the business might not have needed or wanted."

The ACCC is going after the Domain companies for "declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising, disqualifying orders against the director and costs." We'll let you know what happens. In the interim, watch this Consumer Affairs Victoria video that teaches businesses how to spot domain scams:

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    Even the legit domain name guys are a big strange. I'm part of an organisation and we lost our org.au domain because apparently 'we don't exist'. WTF?
    Sending details of meetings, minutes etc didn't seem to deter them. Oh well, we are continuing on with a different non org.au domain.

      I once searched for a domain name for a website I was setting up through a big-name provider and I found it was free. A few days later they sent me an email saying that the domain name I wanted (and many variations of it) had been taken but that I could still buy it for only $500.

        Never search for a domain name unless you intend to buy it that day. This happens like clockwork.

        back in the day godaddy were well known for doing that

      The Aussie rules are a lot more stringent than O/S registrars when it comes to .org.au and .net.au. I learned this years ago when I wanted to have a .net.au domain and discovered it's restricted.

      Organisations have to register to qualify (from memory)
      http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/business-and-industry/abn-acn-business-management/non-profit-organisations

      I'm guessing you weren't registered so didn't meet their criteria?

        Possibly? I was not involved in the whole thing. We had it for awhile, so we cleared whatever was required there. It was just taken back.

          Maybe the registration expired. Or maybe the registrar just screwed up. Either way it's gotta be disappointing. You'd think there'd be some flexibility with the system.

        It is not rare for small organisations to think that running at a loss or relying on donations is grounds for camping yourself a NFP. I had one company who didn't realise the difference until Microsoft denied their application for a free Office 365 service.

    I remember seeing those companies in my emails. Whenever I renewed my domain, they would try and get me to "renew" again six months later like clockwork.

    It was kind of a dead giveaway when I looked at my invoices and WHOIS registries to find the expiry was consistent between then but different in those emails.

    I've recently noticed another, similar scam. I've started getting "Your SEO for domain blah is about to expire" mails. They're basically trying to get me to pay for search engine optimization even when I've never used it. I'm not even sure they do any actual work to enhance search ratings either, you could wind up just paying them a fee and they do nothing.

      Our general inquiry email gets two or three of these a day. They have even started ringing up and demanding to speak to the business owner, and not being able to name her.

      And they are pushy sods, too -- more than one of them has still been talking as I've hung up after the polite but firm "we do not do business with companies who solicit by phone and our IT department handles out SEO internally" spiel.

        I've started adding some of their phrases to my mail filter. Just hope I don't get a legit enquiry from someone about SEO :)

    I am getting a lot of phone calls about my domain from the prominent supplier of Australian domain names that I purchased it through.

    Their call is so import that they leave a message to phone back, but not important enough to leave a reason why.

    Since I know it doesn't expire for quite a while, I ignore them.

    about time these bastards get taken down , lost count of the number of times i have received their dodgy crap

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