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What Is Domain Slamming?

October 20, 2011

The term "domain slamming" is derived from telephone slamming,  where a subscriber's telephone service is changed without their consent - a practice particularly prevalent in the USA and Britain. 

Domain slamming has been rife for years, but  people still unfortunately fall victim. Thankfully, it uncommon in Australia these days in relation to domain names with .au extensions, but generic TLD's such as .com, .net and .org are still heavily targeted.

Domain slamming usually consists of a registrar different to the one currently managing a particular domain name sending out a letter to that domain's registrant that looks like a registration renewal. The communication is in fact a transfer form that will allow that registrar to transfer the management of that name to their own service. 

The term "transfer" may even be on the form in smaller print and noticed by those with a keen eye, but in some cases this may not even be stated or stated in such a way the average person has little chance of realising what will occur.

It's not that the domain name is being "stolen" as such as the registrant still has access to it, but  it's still in effect an unauthorised transfer - much like finding that one month you are subscribed to Telstra for telephone services and the next month, Vodafone - without ever having consciously made a decision to change carriers. Given the "new" registrar's tactics, their service quality may reflect their approach to client "acquisition".

Registrants of .com names who live in Australia are by no means immune from receiving domain slamming letters from overseas services. It seems the scam is successful enough that it makes it worth the offending registrar's while to pay for the overseas postage. 

To play things safe, registrants receiving such letters should always go directly to their own registrar's web site in order to check whether their domain name does need renewing. Even a domain name search using WHOIS applications will reveal this information.

Australia-based Domain Registration Services advises in cases where a .au name is involved in an attempt at domain slamming, registrants should also contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

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