Domain name holders targeted once again

Domain name holders in New Zealand are being targeted by another aggressive marketing campaign, again by an Australian domain name registrar.

Domain Name Registry of Australia has sent faxes to local .com name holders, reminding them of the risks of failing overseas Internet registrars.

“Should your registrar lock your domain name you will be unable to renew your domain name at what are likely to be the new lower prices offered by our firm.”

The company then warns customers that failure to renew their domain name registration “may result in a loss of your online identity.” The fax does include a phrase explaining that it is not a bill but “rather an easy means of payment should you decide to register or renew your domain” with the company.

The Commerce Commission recently warned against dealing with Melbourne-based Internet Name Group (ING). ING first came to light in August last year after it sent a letter to 35,000 domain name holders in New Zealand promoting a “pre-registration” service for .biz and .info domain names at NZ$250 (US$117) per domain name. This led to accusations of misleading holders into re-registering names with ING.

Richard Shearer, general manager of domain name hosting company Free Parking, says he’s seen only a handful of faxes so far, but is fearful this is the start of a new campaign.

“They’ve obviously looked up the name holder information in the registry and that’s against the rules for us here and in Australia and the U.S.”

Shearer says he contacted the company by calling the number listed on the fax, only to be transferred to a Canadian company.

Calls to the listed number are transferred to Domain Name Registry of America. A spokesperson there says he is not aware of the legality issues surrounding mass contacts of this nature.

“I will definitely let that be known to the management – that is, the marketing department. I’m just here in the call centre.”

Shearer has laid a complaint about the company with ICANN, the U.S. registry company.

He says customers should contact their own registrars before sending this company any money.