Domain accused of deceptive conduct

Monday, 14 August, 2017

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Domain Name Corp and Domain Name Agency have been accused of engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct with regards to the domain name services they offer.

The ACCC has commenced proceedings against the businesses, alleging that the sole director of both was involved in the misconduct.

From November 2015 to April 2017, the Domain companies sent out approximately 300,000 unsolicited notices to businesses, which the ACCC alleges looked like a renewal invoice for the business’s existing domain name. Instead, these notices were for the registration of a new domain name, at a cost ranging from $249 to $275.

“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,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper.

“The ACCC is alleging that the businesses were instead unwittingly signing up for a new domain name ending in either a or .com suffix that the business might not have needed or wanted.

“It is alleged that the notices sent out by the Domain companies offered domain names that looked very similar to the business’s current domain name. This detail and the fine print disclaimer were easily missed.”

The ACCC believes that Australian businesses and organisations paid approximately $2.3 million to the Domain companies as a result of receiving the notices.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising, disqualifying orders against the director and costs.

Unsolicited domain name registration offers are a type of false billing scam. In 2016, more than 14,500 individuals reported a combined loss of more than $650,000 to this kind of scam.

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