Eileen Fisher: GigaMom


Scam Alert: Domain Registry Of Canada

Don't Be Fooled By This Slick Trick

It’s late on a Monday night as I’m typing this, not my usual time for writing, but I just went through the day’s mail at our house and discovered a scam letter that I need to warn you about.

It also just so happens that an old episode of Columbo has also come on, so I’m feeling particularly “sleuthy” right now...

If you get a letter from a company called Domain Registry of Canada, do yourself a favour and shred it right away. They’re trying to scam you.

The letter I received looked quite official, like something you would receive from a government agency. Even the envelope was the brown manila style that the Canadian government uses. But something wasn’t right—as I read through the letter, I realized it was an invoice to renew the domain registration for one of my websites. But it didn’t make sense because a) the website was registered with a different company; b) the domain doesn’t expire for another 6 months and c) it’s not even a dot-ca website, it’s a dot-com.

Reading the fine print on the back (which required a magnifying glass and bright reading light), I uncovered some more names of the business: Wild West Domains Inc, NameJuice.com, DROC and most interestingly, Brandon Gray Internet Services.

Oh Google and I had such a good time after that.

Here’s what Columbo, er... I mean what I found out about this letter and why I got it:

In 2004, Brandon Gray Internet Services became a registrar with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). CIRA is a not-for-profit corporation whose purpose is to control, manage and operate the dot-ca domain space. However, to register a dot-ca domain, you need to utilize a “registrar,” like Brandon Gray Internet Services.

In 2010, after receiving complaints about Brandon Gray Internet Services from dot-ca domain owners, CIRA decided not to re-certify the company as an official registrar.

What were the complaints about? That the registrar Brandon Gray Internet Services was associated with a company called Domain Registry Service of Canada (DRSC) who was sending out unsolicited letters to people who had registered a domain, advising them that their domain name was about to expire, requesting payment for “renewal” of the domain name registration and soliciting them to transfer their domain name registration from their current domain registrar.

This process is called “domain slamming,” and it’s not cool. DRSC is targeting businesses with a deceptive mailout which appears to be an invoice from an existing service provider requiring the recipient to pay when in fact, they are not even one of their customers.

After CIRA refused to re-certify Brandon Gray Internet Services as a dot-ca registrar, BGIS turned around and sued CIRA for breach of contract and asked for damages in the amount of $10,000,000.00

Seriously. Ten Million Dollars.

In January of 2011, the Ontario Superior Court ruled in favour of the defendant, CIRA. BGIS responded by filing a Application to Competition Tribunal, which was dismissed with costs to be awarded to CIRA. Finally, in February of this year, there was a writ of seizure and sale issued against Brandon Gray Internet Services to recover costs awarded to CIRA in the Competition Tribunal decision.

So there you go. I’m not seeing a lot of activity here that falls under the realm of “Best Business Practices.” If you'd like to see the whole story, CIRA very kindly organized all of the lawsuits on their page here.

The Better Business Bureau has received multiple complaints about Domain Registry of Canada, and issued this alert on their website:

"Based on information the BBB has obtained, consumers are receiving renewal forms from Domain Registry of Canada to renew their domain names. The issues with the renewal forms however, is that they are not renewals at all. In fact, by filling in the form and sending it in, the consumer has actually agreed to the transferring of their domain name from their current registrar to the Domain Registry of Canada. The BBB would like to remind consumers to carefully read all correspondence before filling in and submitting any forms."

And aside from the fact that this whole thing is a scam...don’t even get me started on what the invoice is charging you. To renew for one year: $40. Good lawrd.

To renew a domain which you already own should cost between $8 and $12 tops. This clown is trying to scam you for almost five times what you should be paying for a normal domain renewal.

So, to make a long story very very short, if you ever get mail from someone regarding your website from an outfit going by the name Domain Registry of Canada, Brandon Gray Internet Services, Wild West Domains or NameJuice.com, shred it right away. The only company that should ever be notifying you about your domain registration is the company that you originally registered with. If you ever have a question about it, you need to contact them.

Lastly, if you can’t remember who you registered your website domain with, or if you want to check and see what personal information is showing up that’s attached to your website, go to whois.com and type your website url in. If your personal information such as name, address etc show up, contact your registrar immediately and get them to put a privacy screen on it. That’s how scam companies like Domain Registry of Canada get your information. Put a lock on it and protect yourself.

Cyber-sleuthing done for the night. G'night Lt. Columbo.