There are a myriad of potential pitfalls that internet users need to be wary of in the online world - but it’s not just the consumer that has to be wary of online scams. There are some common scams that online traders face as well. In this blog post, the first in a series on protecting your business online, we’re going to examine the most common scam that our own clients experience.
Domain name scams
Domain names are addresses for websites. For example, the main domain for our own website is bosweb.com.au. Basically every site you visit has a domain name – any online trading venture needs a domain name to even get started. As such, they’re a prime target for scammers, since everyone has at least one domain name, and these scams generally aim to get you to pay money for domains you don’t need.
The renewal notice
This is the most common scam that we hear about from our clients. This scam presents in one of two ways:
- An 'invoice' for a related domain - .com, for example, when you own .com.au - click on the image for an example
- An 'invoice' for your domain, but with a different registrar
While structured like a professionally ordered invoice, if you look closely you can see that nowhere have they told the recipient that money is owed. They are merely either:
- Advertising the fact that a similar domain is available to purchase, and at an exorbitantly inflated price.
- Offering to transfer your existing domain to their service
Either way, it's easy to see how you can get stung if you aren't paying close attention.
Should the scam be successful, trying to then get access to your domain to transfer it to a reputable registrar or even just to point the domain to your website so it serves some purpose, is a major headache and generally takes weeks or months to resolve. These scammers usually present themselves very professionally - here’s an example
- but it’s all part of conning the recipient into paying too much for something the recipient doesn’t want or need.
The “Internet Keyword”
Another client of ours, Kim McRae from iKiFit
, received the following enquiry (verbatim) through his website:
Dear ikifit team Our organization received a formal application from a company who is called Maltion Ltd are applying to register "ikifit" as trademark keyword and wireless keyword. The trademark keyword can be typed into IE address bar and go directly to assigned website, it do not need "www." nor ".com", ".net", etc, It will skip google search engine ,can be used all the world's browsers .It is most important.
The wireless keyword is the latest products on the Internet, It can be through SMS or WAP, and 3G fast access to sites, Improve website ranking and traffic. It is more convenient and more important
In order to prevent cyber piracy,Please explain: 1: Whether this company is your IT supplier or distributor. 2: Whether you are interested in registering these keywords first to preservation your company’s brand. We are now obligated to inform you this issue ,So we will handle the next step after this audit procedure. Pls understand.
Best regards Michael INSTRACC – Head Office
This scam is trying to scare you into buying a product to protect your trademark and intellectual property. You might also think that getting these keywords first will make it even easier for your customers to find you online.
Of course, there are no such things as trademark or wireless keywords as described above
– it’s simply not how the internet works. You’ll also be informed that on top of the (inflated) cost to register these pretend solutions, they'll hit you with a charge for helping you dispute the other (fictional) company’s claim.
The team at iKiFit suspected it was dodgy, and asked us for advice. For more information on this scam, along with examples of further communication from the scammers, click here
What should I do if I receive unsolicited invoices or offers for domain-related services?
If you’re unsure of the veracity of an offer you receive, do your homework and check the following:
- Double-check that the domain listed matches a domain that you currently own, especially with regards to the country code - .com is not the same as .com.au.
- Is this communication from your current domain registrar? Do you recognise the company at all?
- Have you searched online for the company? A quick search for one of these scammers brings up their website, along with a number of articles from reputable sources documenting the scam. If you find articles like this, or no information at all, it's probably a scam!
- If you’re still unsure, contact us or your current domain registrar for advice!
If you’ve identified a scam attempt, just ignore it – bin the letter or delete the email. You can also report the scam to the ACCC’s SCAMwatch service
, which will help them with identifying current domain scamming trends and, ultimately, protecting other businesses from these scams. If you have been the victim of a domain name scam, SCAMwatch provides information on the options available to you
Remember to exercise the same caution you would normally use when entering into an agreement with another company. And remember, if it’s too good to be true then it probably is!