FC: More on Verisign sending deceptive domain registration bills

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Mar 25 2002 - 19:47:21 PST

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    Previous Politech message:
    "Verisign reportedly sending deceptive domain registration bills"
    Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 16:56:11 -0500
    From: Arnold Kling <arnoldat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: phony domain registration bills
    I got two of these, both from "affiliates" of verisign.  They were very
    deceptive.  They said that my domain would expire "soon" and "in
    March."  In fact, it will expire in March of 2003.  Nowhere did they
    make clear that they were taking registration away from my current
    domain registrar.
    I think that the FTC ought to fine these people.  Meanwhile, every
    domain name registrar had better email a warning to their customers.
    Arnold Kling <mailto:arnoldat_private>
    Author, "Under the Radar:  Starting Your Net Business
       Without Venture Capital"
    <http://arnoldkling.com> <tel:+1-240-888-4936>
    1370 Lamberton Drive, Silver Spring, Md. 20902
    From: "Shirley Dalton" <shirleydaltonat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Subject: Domain Expiration Notices
    Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 22:19:24 -0800
    With regard to the domain expiration notices being sent to customers of Go 
    Daddy Software -- be advised that Verisign Inc. is not the only company 
    trying to solicit new customers by sending letters to people whose domains 
    are due for renewal.
    One of my domains (ironically it is registered with Verisign) is due for 
    renewal in April and I received a notice from Domain Registry of America 
    <http://www.droamerica.com>www.droamerica.com asking me to renew my domain 
    registration with their company.  At least they were open about their 
    solicitation. Reference was made in the letter to the fact that my domain 
    is registered with Verisign, but they would like my business since their 
    price is less than that of Verisign.
    I guess this type of solicitation is to be expected with so many companies 
    now registering domains.
    Shirley Dalton
    Progressives for Global Survival
    "There is a word sweeter than mother, home or heaven--that word is 
    liberty."  Matilda Joslyn Gage
    From: adminat_private (admin)
    To: <declanat_private>
    Cc: <Pressat_private>, <pcwat_private>
    Subject: RE: Verisign reportedly sending deceptive domain registration bills
    Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 07:52:48 -0500
    GoDaddy is the one who charges a $49.95 fee to change the ownership
    records of a domain (a service that if free for many registrars).  See
    how long it takes you to find the notice of this charge when you review
    their web site!
    Russ Smith
    From: "Hugh Brower" <hughat_private>
    To: <declanat_private>
    Cc: "hugh3" <hugh3at_private>
    Subject: FC: Verisign reportedly sending deceptive domain registration bills
    Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 09:49:39 -0500
    I have received a number of these phony bills.  They are actually from 
    Interland, which I believe is either wholly or partially owned by Verisign.
    I consider them deceptive, and they look similar in design to the phony 
    Yellow Pages ad solicitations that businesses receive from time to time.
    Some customers who we had originally registered domains for have actually 
    paid these phony invoices, not realizing they weren't from us, and their 
    domains were transferred back to the Network Solutions registrar.  I 
    believe Interland/Verisign are doing the transfers without getting email 
    authorization from the admin contact for the domain name, which would make 
    it a violation of ICann procedures.  The phony invoice forms request you to 
    sign them which supposedly (if you read the back of the form) gives 
    authorization for the switch.  That does not guarantee that the person 
    signing is in fact authorized to make the switch (a disgruntled secretary 
    could sign the her own name and transfer the company domain to her control).
    In all fairness, Interland has been doing these mailings for years, and 
    this appears to be one of the "tricks" that has gotten their business to 
    the size it is now.  Their privileged position within the Versign family 
    gives them insider access to the master database of domain information.  In 
    the past before their were competitive domain registrars if you accepted 
    the Interland offer, your domain's ISP (DNS servers) would be switched to 
    Interland.  Now they merely change the registrar (but claim to) keep the 
    ISP the same.
    The competitive registrars are not happy about the Interland tactics, and 
    that's too be expected.  With all the confusion over different registrars 
    and many people not understanding the difference between a domain registrar 
    and a web hoster (ISP), that's one reason we are seeing more of these 
    problems being reported now.
    The entire domain transfer process is quite open to abuse - I have had 
    domain names literally stolen out from under me by hackers using rogue 
    registrars that bypass the email "checks" required before a domain can be 
    switched.  Some competitive registrars do absolutely nothing to protect 
    their customers domains from being taken in this way.  Because the problem 
    is not yet on the public's radar screens, Verisign GRS (who are in charge 
    of the master system all registrars for com/net/org must use) has not felt 
    much pressure to put better checks and balances into place.  I predict 
    though that some high profile domains will eventually get hijacked this 
    way, and then there will be calls for Congress to get involved and put some 
    controls on how Verisign does business.
    Hugh Brower
    Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 09:51:56 -0500
    From: Rich Kulawiec <rskat_private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    Subject: Re: FC: Verisign reportedly sending deceptive domain registration 
    This isn't the first time Verisign/Network Solutions has pulled
    something like this.  (In fact, it's just another in a long series
    of "creative" techniques they've used to counteract the mass exodus
    from their service.)
    For example, I've received bills from NSI for domains that have
    already been transferred away them.  (So have others.)
    I've received bills/renewal notices that were re-addressed to the
    "President" of my little company, even though no such info is present
    or has ever been present in my registration records.  (So have others.)
    This is a pretty obvious attempt to do an end-around on the people
    actually responsible for a company's domain registration.
    And so on.
    Here's one particularly ugly story:
    falls victim to Network Solutions (March 1999)</a>
    But many more are available by Googling "Network Solutions Horror Stories".
    Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 08:52:41 -0800
    From: Tom Perrine <tepat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: Re: FC: Verisign reportedly sending deceptive domain registration 
    X-Organization: San Diego Supercomputer Center, San Diego, California
    I have also received these notices from Verisign.  They *are* quite
    deceptive.  You have to read the fine print on the back, where the
    only hint that this is not a re-registration with your current
    registrar is a clause about "authorizing the transfer" of the domain
    I wish I had kept the last one.
    They are exactly the kind of notices that we used to see for
    long-distance service "slamming".  If I get another notice from them,
    its going to my friends at the Boiler Room Task Force here in San
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