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Domain Registry of America

Watch your mail and be careful

     
2:44 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I wanted to post a general alert about Domain Registry of America. I believe they are engaging in a practice that borders on illegal in the worse case scenario and is clearly unethical in the best case scenario.

They are combing the public registries and sending letters to people telling them that their domain names will be expiring and to renew it simply fill out the enclosed form with payment and they will renew it. Near as I can tell when you do this your domain name will be ripped away from it current registrar to this company. This echoes the scams phone companies used to do called "slamming" back in late 90's where they would call you and try and confuse you into simply agreeing with them on the phone or filling out some dubious looking letter that would switch your phone service.

For those of us who know what we are doing we probably wouldn't fall for this ruse, but be careful with your clients who may be getting these letters, but you manage the domain for them. One of my clients got this and almost filled it out because he thought he had to. Luckily he called me first and I was able to intervene before that happened and assured him his domain was still registered and was not expired or even scheduled to expire anytime soon.

If you actually read the entire letter it doesn't actually say anything illegal or wrong, but clearly it is designed to fool people who are not very knowledgeable or don't know better. The form looks like a bill and lists the person's domain name(s) and tells them to protect their name and keep it from expiring to fill out the form and send payment. Once a person does that this company will become the new registrar and who knows what will get screwed up in the transfer process. The DNS might get changed and that could pull a huge eCommerce web site offline for several days or something along those lines and cost you (or your client) a bunch of cash.
3:46 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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They have been running this scam for years but a regular heads up for less experienced webmasters is a good idea.

Clients doing stupid things is always a risk of course, you were lucky to be able to catch yours in time.
3:52 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yes, it's many years old.

Older one
Domain Registry of America [webmasterworld.com]

More recent one
Domain Registry of America [webmasterworld.com]
3:54 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There are a number of threads discussing this very company on WebmasterWorld. As has been pointed out they have been involved in this form of activity for several years. They are clearly attempting to fool people into paying what very often looks like a bill.

I receive letters from them regularly and don't even bother to open them now, they go in their rightful place, the bin!

Mack.
5:52 pm on Mar 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I loathe these guys/gals. I get their mails **and** emails, but the worst part of the experience is my clients who are not very net-savvy go "chicken little" on me as a result of receipt, sometimes even to the point of anger. "I thought you were taking care of this for me, isn't that what I pay you for?" (No. :-) ) It's cost me untold hours in "counseling."

Not a lawyer, but even so . . . this should be illegal. <ducks>
1:08 am on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There are a number of threads discussing this very company on Webmaster World. As has been pointed out they have been involved in this form of activity for several years.


Sorry for the duplication, my domain names are almost always private so I haven't seen these before. Once I started renewing some domains recently without privacy is when I started seeing them and hence became aware of the problem.
12:31 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The variant we are currently seeing in Australia is postal mail from a similarly named company which offers the .net.au variant of the already owned .com.au domain - at an outrageous markup (but they do offer an ipod shuffle as a freebie!)
It isn't, fortunately made to look like a renewal, beyond the way it looks like an invoice.
I've queried with the local Domain Registar - they say its outside their purview and Consumer Affairs is the place to go :(
I wonder how many people fall for it.
3:31 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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There are a number of threads discussing this very company on WebmasterWorld.

Its still worth resurrecting every couple of years as a warning to those who are new to the business.
3:53 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I used to get those scam letters a long time ago- back when they were stupid enough to include a pre-paid return envelope. I always used it to return the letter. After the first few letters, I started writing nasty notes to remove me. They kept coming, so I started writing longer notes pointing out the economic loss of continuing to send me letters (postage both ways). They didn't stop, so I started including extra scrap paper, just to make sure the weight exceeded the normal amount and they would have to pay extra. Pretty much finally stopped. :)

However, I still get the occasional message from a client who gets a letter form them.
5:30 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The scary thing is that enough people must be falling for this scam to keep them in business..

And why has some authority not stamped on it, I know they must have the legals covered but at the very least it is misleading advertising..
10:18 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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They didn't stop, so I started including extra scrap paper, just to make sure the weight exceeded the normal amount and they would have to pay extra.


Two words: cat litter.

Yes I am evil, but it's a really angelic evil. :-P
10:25 pm on Mar 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Cat litter might be tempting, but in these days of powder, pellets, and other things not usually found in postal mail might result in a visit from the authorities! Pages from the phone book is a better way to go, with a short note suggesting they go trolling there...
9:43 am on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If I can be bothered I stuff the reply paid envelope with whatever other junk mail I can lay my hands on and post it back. Doesn't get me off the list but it makes them pay twice which makes me feel good, and helps support the postal service.
2:57 pm on Mar 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Regester sounds like a crack house glad I am not with them.

Thanks for the ideas if I get a letter from them I will make sure I send them back a nice suprise.
 

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