Fake Renewal Notice

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Recommendation: Avoid
Avoid.jpg
Summary: Notices sent from a different or fake registrar in order to claim a renewal fee
Outcome: Confusion, unauthorized transfers, fraud, theft
Addressed by ICANN Policy: N
Addressed by Legislation: Y
Related to: Domain Slamming, Domain Name Hijacking

Fake Renewal Notices are any sort of correspondence that are sent to registrants from another or fake registrar in order to claim a renewal fee. These notices are populated with content available from publicly available Whois information. Fake Renewal Notices are an ideal form of Domain Slamming but can also be used in connection with Domain Name Hijacking and fraud.

Example Email

Here is an example email of such an attempt at Domain Slamming.[1][2]

 From: Transfer and Renewal Support [mailto:transfers@droa.com] Sent: 06 August 2009 09:04 
 To: name@xxxxxxxxx.com 
 Subject: TT0, xxxxxxxxxxxx.com; Order # 1686111 
 
 Hello John Smith, The transfer and renewal of your domain name, xxxxxxxxx.com is not yet complete at this time. 
 
 Reason: 
 ------- 
 1) The Domain name is currently in a "REGISTRAR-LOCK" status with your current registrar yyyyyyyyyyyyyy 
 
 2) We require that you provide us with an EPP Key/Authorization Code from your current registrar.
 
 In order to complete the transfer and renewal, the "REGISTRAR-LOCK" status needs to be removed and an EPP Key/Authorization code needs to be obtained. 
 
 Please see below for instructions on achieving this. 
 
 Solution: 
 --------- 
 
 - Log into your account with your current registrar, and change the status of your domain, headmassage.com, from "locked" to "active". 
 
 - Then look for the EPP Key or Authorization Code. 
 
 Alternate Solution: 
 --------- 
 
 - Call your current registrar, yyyyyyyyyyyy (see phone number below) and ask them to remove the lock status of your domain name, give you your EPP Key, and allow the transfer to Domain Registry of America. 
 
 - Once done please notify us that you have done so, by clicking on the link below, or calling our toll-free number below. 
 
 https://namejuice.com/agree.asp?e=1&o=1686111&p=3110111 
 
 We will then re-attempt the transfer and renewal of your domain name. 
 
 As a convenience, we have supplied your current registrars phone number below. 
 
 Domain: xxxxxxxxxxxx.com 
 Current Registrar: yyyyyyyyyyyyy 
 Registrar Phone Number: Please visit their site to contact them 
 
 Transfer Department Domain Registry of America 
 Toll free 1-866-434-0212 or for International Callers, dial +1(905)479-2533

Public Perception

Many view fake renewal notices as dishonest attempts to trick registrants into paying extra fees or into transferring a domain name unintentionally.

Outcome

Fake Renewal Notices can cause unsuspecting users who do not understand typical domain transfer policy to give their domain to a more expensive registrar or owner to keep control of it with higher renewal rates or fees.

Historical Use

According to the GNSO's Registration Abuse Policies Working Group (RAPWG) report, fake renewal notices have been used to get people to:

  • "Pay an unnecessary fee (fraud)
  • Get a registrant to switch registrars unnecessarily (“slamming”, or illegitimate market-based switching)
  • Reveal credentials or provide authorization codes to facilitate theft of the domain."[3]

ICANN Policy

See Domain Slamming for more information.

ICANN is currently investigating and a report from a small group has been submitted of the issue on fake renewal notices on April 21, 2012.[4] An analysis of this report has made a recommendation to add a section to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement that addresses Business Practices. In addition to adding the issue to the upcoming Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy and Policy Development Process while raising the issue with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to see if the registrar is in compliance with relevant law.

Legislation

As fake renewal notices often involve sending people misleading information and creating customer confusion, the FTC has investigated fake renewal notices in connection to domain slamming.[5] In a 2003, the FTC examined Domain Registry of America (DROA), a company that has been known to use slamming as a marketing technique. DROA's actions were determined to be illegal, and they were ordered to pay "consumer redress."[5] However, as the notice above shows, DROA is still in the habit of sending notices that are confusing but perhaps not as deceptive as they were previously.

DNS Award

Awardees do not engage in deceptive marketing tactics, like fake renewal notices, or misuse Whois information.

Additional Resources and Tips

  1. Never give out your EPP Code or Authorization code to anyone or any service, unless you intend on transferring your domain name.
  2. Purchase Privacy Protection if available, and keep your information at your registrar up to date.
  3. Do not give anyone access to your domain, without your express knowledge or permission.

Related Articles

References

  1. Domain Registry of America are now emailing highly misleading emails too (August 7, 2009), Parlour Design
  2. http://forum.icann.org/lists/gnso-rap-dt/docMBS94iTzv1.doc
  3. Registration Abuse Policies Working Group: Final Report (May 29, 2010), ICANN
  4. Fake Renewal Notices Report, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Court Bars Canadian Company from Misleading Consumers in Marketing of Internet Domain Name Services (December 23 2003), Federal Trade Commission