Sunday, February 28, 2010

Domain Registry of America Scam

Another day, another scam. This one is a misleading domain renewal notice from Domain Registry of America, which, by the way, is actually located in Canada. As with the scams that target LLC owners, this one, too, comes in the form of an expiration notice. In the notice we received, the domain they claim is about to expire was renewed last year, and doesn't expire until 2011. Oops!

This company has been operating for several years, but their notices are not nearly as deceptive as they once were. Why? The Federal Trade Commission went after them for misrepresentation, and a federal district court issued this order in 2003. To comply with the order, the urgency of their notices has been muted, and their offer is more transparent. Specifically, the text of the notice makes it clear that if you pay them to renew, you are actually transferring your domain name from your current registrar to theirs. They are, of course, hoping that you don't read it too carefully, because it is a terrible offer (more on that below). Furthermore, the actual registration agreement, which is on the reverse of the notice, is printed in a font so small, most people would need a magnifying glass to read it. Again, they are complying with the law, but hoping you don't actually read it.

Other than the bogus expiration date and the fact that some recipients will mistake it for a renewal notice from their current registrar, what really makes this offer a scam is the price: Their annual renewal rate of $30 is several times the going market rate. Unfortunately, the fact that they are still sending out these notices means that they are still getting people to pay that exorbitant price. Compliance with the law has simply lowered their profit margin, but hasn't put them out of business. Wake up, people!