domainwatch.org

Thursday November 10 2005

Small businesses plagued by unsolicited offers – Internet Domain Names

Filed under: General — Josh @ 6:10 pm

from: http://www.docep.wa.gov.au/Corporate/Media/statements/2005/October/Small_businesses_pla.html

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Issue Date: – Thursday, 27 October 2005

Small businesses plagued by unsolicited offers – Internet Domain Names

Small business operators are being warned not to fall victim to scammers trying to charge for registering unwanted website addresses.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Patrick Walker said small businesses were being plagued by unsolicited approaches to register or “renew” web addresses, known as domain names.

“The right domain name is very important to any business that wants to attract customers to its website,” said Mr Walker.

“But scammers attempt to dupe businesses into registering or “renewing” a similar website address to their existing domain name.”

For example, the letter may offer to renew the domain name www.closetoyourname.net.au which is similar to the existing website www.closetoyourname.com.au .

“Though the difference is very subtle, the two domain names cannot be interchanged,” Mr Walker said.

“Scammers are banking on busy office staff missing the subtle difference and believing the “renewal” must have come from the original company which registered the name.

“Often the business does not realise that they have been scammed until the renewal notice from the original registrar arrives.”

Barry Sue, owner of Jack Sue WA Skindivers, is one such trader who was duped into paying $187.00 for the “renewal” of a domain name which was similar to his existing website address.

Mr Walker said in the past few years, consumer protection agencies across Australia have taken action to close down these unscrupulous operators.

“But operators are becoming smarter and couch their offers in terms that make it very difficult to prosecute. At the end of the day, they are offering a service, it’s just not the service businesses want.

“Small business operators need to be vigilant and not fooled by official looking letters.”

Mr Walker advised small businesses to:

  • Read any renewal notices carefully;
  • Know the name of your real domain name registrar;
  • Find out the renewal date for your domain name;

The Australian Domain Name Authority (auDa) has a list of accredited domain name registrars on its website www.auda.org.au as well as warnings about scam operators.

For more information ring 1300 30 40 54 or email consumer@docep.wa.gov.au

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