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.
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.
The news spread swiftly yesterday, which is pretty much the norm for anything being discussed on social media. Unwanted, harassing tweets from a 52-year-old Ontario man had resulted in him being changed with Criminal Harassment.
That’s pretty serious stuff.
The last tweet sent out by the accused, known as @greg_a_elliott, seemed foreboding:
Well apparently, it wasn’t too much for one woman's local police department. Whatever Mr. Elliott said to the alleged victim that has had the charges brought against him, it was enough for her to file a police report on him, and for the authorities to charge him.
Reports say that the woman told the accused to stop communicating with her, but he ignored that. The end result left her afraid for her safety.
As awesome as social media is, there is a scary dark side to it, and this news only proves it. I’ve read so many stories of “tweet-spats,” witnessed quite a few myself and even partaken in a few. It’s so easy to tweet out stuff before thinking first, to type out the first thing that comes into your head, to react irrationally to someone who is a total stranger.
A total stranger.
That’s what gets me. The cloak of invisibility that people hide behind online, tweeting and posting things to people they don’t even know, forcing them to the point where they are afraid for their safety.
A good argy-bargy is one thing (you can all stop pointing at me now) but there’s nothing funny about criminal harassment. Nothing at all.
Reading through various tweets today that referenced @greg_a_elliott, a majority of them sounded happy or relieved that these charges came about. There were a few that seemed to be giving him the benefit of the doubt as well & it will be interesting to see what comes of these charges.
Above all else, I hope it gives us all a wakeup call that in social media, we need to talk and treat people with the honesty and respect that we would if we were sitting in the local coffee shop together having a discussion.
Trolls need to stop hiding behind the online Cloak of Invisibility, because guess what? We see right through it.
There’s a song in my head today. It’s an old song—about 20 years old, and it’s called “The Bug.” Two lines of this song, in particular, have been repeating in my techy brain for the past several hours.
Sometimes you’re the windshield,
Sometimes you’re the bug.
That pretty much sums up my day tech-wise yesterday. The tech gods were not smiling upon me and I ended up feeling like the smushed bug on a windshield.
That’s a great visual isn’t it?
Hiccups with technology are pretty common for just about everyone, I mean, nothing’s perfect and over the years I’ve learned how to roll with the unforeseen problems that suddenly pop up out of nowhere and give your day a different direction. (I'm actually getting pretty good at it.)
Only for me yesterday, the only direction I was going in tech wise was down, down, down.
As in, no freaking internet service. At all. All day.
Midway though my morning yesterday, the wi-fi in our house went out. No problem! I went into “wi-fi rescue” mode and went through the usual steps to try and restore it.
Unfortunately, my tech troubleshooting didn’t work. After breathing deeply and trying again, it still didn’t work. I was going to have to do the unthinkable. I was going to have to call my service provider.
After about 40 minutes of troubleshooting with the service provider, the rep suddenly noticed where I lived. “OH!” she exclaimed. “I know what’s wrong!” Then she proceeded to explain to me that they were doing an upgrade in my area, and as a result there was a service outage that would last for an undetermined period of time.
Happy with that answer, I realized that other than packing up and setting up my office in the local coffee shop, the only option I had was to use my iPhone as a personal hotspot.
I know. Personal Hotspot. It sounds like alot more fun than it actually is. What it actually means is that I used my phone’s 3G service to connect my computer so I could work for a few hours. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to my cell phone bill, but if you see me out collecting pop bottles next month you’ll know why.
After a couple of hours of me using my Personal Hotspot, I called my internet provider again for an update. “Good news!” was the reply. The upgrade was completed and the outage was over. And the very good news is that my internet service was going to be better than ever.
But... the bad news is that my modem they provided me with 2 years ago would no longer work.
But... the other good news is that they would give me a brand new better-than-ever modem!
But... the bad news is that it would take 5 days to get it to me.
(Can you now visualize me banging my head repeatedly onto my desk? Because I totally was. I almost knocked over my half-empty bottle of Bailey’s in the process.)
Realizing that with all of the devices in our house that were dependent on using wi-fi, there was no way we could wait 5 days for a new modem. But guess what?
Good News! I was told I could pick up the new modem at one of their stores.
Bad News! The closest one was a 90-minute drive away.
So, you can probably guess what the rest of my day entailed. A three-hour road trip out to their store & back, and then some more fun-time spent setting up a brand-spankin' new wireless network in our house.
With all of that happening in just one day, not to mention the other elements of the day such as picking up kids from school, getting them to their after-school activities, homework, dinner, laundry, yada yada yada, my previous beautifully organized day became completely turned upside down. I basically only had my phone to work with without being able to use my computer, my brain was a boggled mess. Mid-afternoon I managed to send out a feeble tweet & Facebook post that simply said, “Worst. Day. Ever.”
I’m pretty sure people thought I was dying. I don’t usually post mopey negative stuff, so I think a few people were taken aback. Tweets and replies came back with reassurances that whatever it was, things would be okay.
So if you were worried about me yesterday, thank you and you were right, things turned out okay.
And then after all of that, the song “The Bug” came into my head, and I’ve been singing it to myself ever since. By the end of the night, after everything was fixed and the kids were in bed, I exclaimed to GigaDad, “That’s it! I’M THE BUG!” I took the puzzled look on his face to mean that he agreed with me. Obviously.
I may have been the bug yesterday, but today I’m going to be the windshield. With big freaking wipers to clear yesterday’s bug-smush away.
Take that, tech. I win.