ACCC takes action against domain registration businesses

11 August 2017

The ACCC has instituted proceedings against Domain Name Corp Pty Ltd and Domain Name Agency Pty Ltd (also trading as Domain Name Register) (the Domain companies) alleging that they engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to Australian businesses about the domain name services they offered.

The ACCC is also alleging that the sole director of both the Domain companies was involved in the conduct.

From November 2015 to at least April this year, 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. The ACCC is alleging that the businesses were instead unwittingly signing up for a new domain name ending in either a .net.au or .com suffix that the business might not have needed or wanted,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said. 

“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,” Dr Schaper said. 

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

Background

The ACCC’s Scamwatch website has previously warned about unsolicited domain name registration offers.

Consumer Affairs Victoria has produced a video that provides further information to businesses about unsolicited domain registration offers.

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

Release number: 
MR 133/17
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