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: