Sunday September 17 2006

On the prowl for easy prey

Filed under: General — Josh @ 9:44 pm

On the prowl for easy prey,,20391879-5001081,00.html

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September 12, 2006 12:00
Article from: The Daily Telegraph

WHAT’S in a name? Quite a lot actually if you have an internet domain name and don’t pay close attention to who should be sending you the bill to keep it.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received a number of complaints from domain name owners who have paid for domain names similar to, but not identical to the ones they already have a license to use.

A number of unsolicited mass mail-outs not just here but in New Zealand and elsewhere abroad have been catching out unwary owners.

Often, these letters capitalise on a lack of understanding of the intricacies of the domain name system, or simply rely on busy owners paying the invoice without thoroughly checking it.

Many of these owners find themselves paying for domains they don’t want or need.

For instance, someone whose registered website goes under the domain name of, might receive a letter asking them to pay for or

While seemingly similar, these are in fact completely unrelated domain names and customers are unwittingly paying to sign up for a second name.

Where this type of activity has involved deliberately misleading invoices, the ACCC has already taken action. However, despite the publicity surrounding the cases businesses are still being caught out.

The good news is there are some simple steps that domain name owners can take to protect themselves from being caught out or ripped off.

When signing up for a domain name, owners can expect to receive both a tax invoice and a registry key or password.

Keep these in a safe place as they are important for future use of that name when setting up a website.

The invoice should also be used to cross-check any offers that come in.

Look to ensure the name of the company is the same as the one you originally signed up with.

Also note the renewal date for your original domain name.

Most importantly, check that the actual name of the domain matches exactly to the one you took out originally and the one that is used for your website, and is not a slight variation possibly designed to confuse you.

There are a number of useful resources available to domain name owners wanting to check the validity of an invoice.

The ACCC has a fact sheet on domain name registrations on its website — follow the business link.

For .au domain names carries consumer warnings about domain name scams.

This website also contains a registry and look-up service of .au domain names.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts also published a free booklet Staking your Claim on the Web which is available online at

Those who feel they may have been misled can contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

Graeme Samuel is chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
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