Avoid this common scam with just a little bit of care

 In News and Events, Tech Tuesday

Here’s a great case for making use of Constructor’s payment approval process and a few checks and balances within your own processes before paying your monthly invoices.

DomainRegisterSampleDocument

Watch out for documents like this, mailed to you business in a blatant attempt to trick you out of your money

There is currently a domain name registration / renewal scam from DomainRegister doing the rounds in your everyday postal mail. You will receive a document, disguised to look like a renewal for your existing Internet domain name registration – that’s your “www.yourdomainname.com.au” –  but a quick slightly more than cursory read will show you, it is far from what it looks like.

A group (or maybe just one person), calling itself DomainRegister will mail you a document (in the actual post, not email!) which looks surprisingly like an invoice for renewal of your existing domain name, but which is in fact merely just an offer to provide 2 years registration of a slightly different domain name plus “FREE email forwarding”! (I’m not entirely sure what “free email forwarding” would be actually – do they let you receive emails from others on the Internet for no charge maybe?? How generous!). That slightly different name is usually just your existing “.com.au” name, minus the “.au”.

The upshot of this offer is however that without a little care you could wind up either thinking you’re renewing your current domain name (only to be dissapointed when the real renewal arrives) or paying an exorbitant amount to register a domain name you don’t want or need.

The DomainRegister group will no doubt argue that this is not a scam and that they are offering a service, which if you did pay for,  would probably actually be delivered.

The nature of this transaction though is certainly dubious at best, due to several key factors:

  1. The services offered come at an incredibly high cost when compared to comparable services from more reputable or well know providers – GoDaddy and CrazyDomains for example offer equivalent services for less that $5 and sometimes free – while Melbourne IT offer domain registration and extended services which include domain name regstration of .au and other domains, for half this price.
  2. The offers made appear to be designed based on information taken from publicly available domain name registration data. The offer is always for a “.com” domain name with the same name as you currently have registered  under the “.com.au” domain levels and they often turn up at a time close to when you would be expecting renewal.
  3. While the document you receive does not contain the words “Tax Invoice” for all other intents and purposes it appears like a standard invoice, complete with payment details across the bottom.
  4. It is not normal practice for companies to approach customers regarding the registration of new domain names. This is a transaction that you would normally instigate with a new domain name in mind, not have advertised or offered to you with your own name on it.
  5. The most likely recipient of the document is an accounts clerk or accounts department of a small company. Someone of little knowledge of their I.T. infrastructure, who is in the habit of paying batches on invoices on a regular basis. A better way to market or sell such services would surely be to design some material aimed at your company’s I.T. / Internet savvy staff or consultants, unless of course you were hoping to trick people in to paying you money and not thinking any more of it.
  6. Should this transaction go head, apart from $249 disappearing out of your bank account, no one in your I.T. department or at your I.T. / Web consultants company would ever necessarily know anything about it. So DomainRegister takes $249, registers a domain name for you and nothing else happens. It doesn’t change the way your current web site works and if those that run your website don’t know about it, nothing at all in their world changes. (The perfect “crime”).
  7. A quick Internet search of “DomainRegister” will turn up numerous reports of this scam however, the most damming being a number of listing on the net registry website’s support section
  8. When I rang the 1300 number listed on the document in question, I was briefly put on hold, then addressed by a very friendly “Craig”. After a couple of cursory questions about what the service offers, I asked what I get in addition to the numerous $5 offers which I can find. I was told quite bluntly to “go take one of those then”. I pointed out I was trying to understand the difference in this service offering, I was told I was “wasting Craig’s time” and hung up on. Hardly the service level  expected from a legitimate business interested in my custom.

So before you click the authorise button on that invoice in Constructor, or better still, before you even enter the details of an invoice that doesn’t even have a purchase order relating to it, have someone who can verify the legitimacy of each claim, cast an eye over it and at the very least keep an eye out for these such letters.

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