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Domain Name Scams - ACCC Warning

March 27, 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has renewed its warning for small businesses to beware of scams involving domain names.

Recent scams targeting online businesses reported to the body have cost business owners thousands of dollars and the ACCC warns businesses to be wary of invitations to register or renew their domain name.

The ACCC says business owners should carry out due diligence before responding to emails asking them to pay a fee in return for securing their business domain name overseas, or that their overseas domain name is about to expire. These may well be examples of what is known as the "Asian Domain Scam". 

The Asian Domain Scam can also arrive in the form of a warning prompting a business to register a foreign domain name before another business does.

Domain name scams come in many forms.

It isn't uncommon for some rogue registrars to email or even send letters to domain name registrants that make it seem they are the managing registrar for the name.

Many people have been fooled into allowing their names to be transferred from their current registrar to the rogue company without being aware that was what they were doing. The emails and letters are worded in a way that leads the target to believe it is simply a renewal notice.

The auDA and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have in the past taken legal action against companies in engaging in this sort of behaviour; but where the scam originates outside Australian shores, it can be more difficult to investigate and prosecute.

Registrants should ascertain if any renewal notifications they receive are coming from their registrar before parting with their money. Renewal notifications will not require the provision of a password. If a password is requested, it's very likely the "renewal" is actually a transfer.

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