ING switches to fax spam

Domain name tout Internet Name Group (ING) has surfaced again in New Zealand despite an Australian federal court ruling that should have stopped the company spamming domain name holders.

Domain name tout Internet Name Group (ING) has surfaced again in New Zealand despite an Australian federal court ruling that should have stopped the company spamming domain name holders.

Not content with emailing holders warning them that the .com version of their domain name wasn't registered, and offering to do that for "only" $125, the company is now sending out faxes that look suspiciously like invoices.

Balclutha-based Clutha Licensing Trust received one of the faxes and a phone call and a follow-up email from ING and trust accountant Stuart Macdonnell is not impressed.

"When they phone to find out how I'd like to pay I said, 'Isn't this just some kind of scam?', and they got very quiet and hung up," says Macdonnell. He registered www.clt-trust.co.nz for the trust and was well aware that it shouldn't cost "anywhere near" $125 to register a .com name.

"Then the email arrived after the phone call saying I could do it all for only $99, which is still too much."

In May the Commerce Commission warned customers not to have any dealings with the Melbourne-based company after receiving 35 complaints.

"The commission has strong concerns about the activities of ING and representations it makes regarding the nature of the services it offers," says the commission's director of fair trading, Deborah Battell. "Our advice is not to deal with this company."

ING is also out of favour in Australia where the Commerce Commission's counterpart, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken ING to court. A spokeswoman for the ACCC was very interested in evidence that the company had re-surfaced.

"We received an interlocutory ruling from the judge. If they've breached that we'd be very interested to hear about it." ING could find itself back in court on contempt charges.

ING's move comes as another Australian registry company tries a similar spam campaign. Internet Registry has had its New Zealand website closed by Domainz, which manages the .nz name space, for spamming domain name holders and for trawling the Domainz database for contact details.

ING did not return IDGNet's calls.

Excerpt taken from Australian Federal Court order against ING

The Court orders by consent that":

Upon the first respondent, by its counsel, undertaking that until the hearing and determination of the proceeding, or until further order:

(1) it will not in Australia or elsewhere, publish, distribute, or display material, by any means whatsoever (including electronic transmission and/or oral communications) in which it:

(a) represents that the letters “bz” in the domain name “.bz” means or refers to “business”;

(b) represents that registration of a domain name in the “.bz” domain indicates the registration of a business;

(c) represents that it has a pre-existing relationship with a person, if in truth it does not, in particular, by stating that there is such a relationship or by describing its notices as “Renewal Advices” or by an invitation to “confirm” a renewal or by addressing its notices to “accounts payable”. The notices it sends to those persons to whom it does not have a pre-existing relationship will include the statement: “You do not have to renew your domain name registration through ING” (such statement to appear in the body of the text (in the same size and font as that text) on the front page of the notices);

(d) represents that it has the authority itself, and itself can provide, the registration or renewal of a customer’s domain name;

(e) represents that it is offering multiple free services, if in truth it is not;

(f) represents that it has a relationship with Melbourne IT that in truth it does not;

(g) represents that it can register “.com.au” domain names on the internet for a period of more than two years;

(h) represents that it is necessary for persons to have its assistance to obtain a registry key;

(i) represents that an application for pre-registration of one of the names “.biz” or “.info” must be made through it;

(j) represents that it is necessary to have access to a “registry key” before a domain name can be renewed, if in truth it is not;

(k) represents there are no statutory warranties as to merchantability or fitness for purpose applicable to services it provides, alternatively that clause 3 of the First Respondent’s Terms and Conditions Applying to Pre-Registration of Domain Names is capable of avoiding the effect of sections 68 and 74 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth);

(2) any form it uses which bears the logo of Melbourne IT will be accompanied by a statement to the following effect: “This form will be submitted by us to Melbourne IT on your behalf”, such statement to appear in the body of the text (in the same size and font as that text) on the front page of the notice which requests completion of the form;

(3) it will preserve all records required to supply the information referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Motion, Notice of which is dated 17 April 2002.

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