Dubious practices

False online business directories

Belgian business and organisations that own a domain name sometimes receive letters asking them to pass on their company and website details, or to check the details provided, and then to sign and send the letter back to the sender so that these details can be included in an online business directory.

In their letters, these so-say internet registers or directories use visual and copy elements that could easily be mistaken as being associated with official directory and/or internet providers in Belgium.

Those companies/organisations that fill in the details in the letter, then sign and send it back to the sender do so assuming that they are dealing with an official Belgian organisation. In actual fact, though, they are signing a purchase order for their details to be included in one or other online business “directory”. Having signed on the dotted line, as it were, they then receive an invoice and/or bank transfer request for the cost of including their details in the directory.

DNS Belgium advises individuals or businesses that receive letters or registration forms of this kind to go through them very carefully before sending back the signed form. Also, if they have any questions about the management of their domain name, they should always get in contact with their accredited, genuinely official, .be registrar.

There have been a number of these so-called internet directories operating in Belgium:

Offering corresponding domain names in other domain name zones

This practice happens when a so-called “registrar” (usually located in another country) contacts a company in Belgium by phone or e-mail and reveals to that company that one of its clients wishes to register the domain name corresponding to or very similar to the name of the company or one of its brands in one or more other domain name zones. This “registrar” suggests to the company in question that it can register the domain name in the domain name zones it has mentioned in the e-mail or phone call.

The outrageous thing about this practice is that the “registrar” tends to carry out these registrations at extortionate prices and puts the companies that have been contacted under pressure to take a decision within a short space of time about whether or not to register the domain names in question.

DNS Belgium knows about two different methods used by this type of “registrar”:

  • an e-mail is sent to the CEO by a domain name registration organisation operating in Asia informing the company that one of the “registrar’s” clients wishes to register the target company’s corporate name or brand name in a number of Asia domain name zones (.cn, .asia, .hk, etc.), asking the company to get in touch with the “registrar” as quickly as possible;
  • or else the Belgian company is contacted by a so-called “registrar” with the same story, asking the company to make an immediate decision as to whether it wishes to register the domain name itself in the other domain name zones through this “registrar”.

DNS Belgium advises .be registrants to start by considering very carefully whether they are interested in having the extensions being offered for their domain name. If the .be registrant does not want these extensions, the best thing to do is simply ignore the e-mail containing the offer. However, if the .be registrant is interested in having Asian or any other extensions, DNS Belgium strongly recommends that it contact its usual registrar, which will then try and register the required extensions directly or through a reliable third party, charging the proper fee established in advance.

CENTR

Council of European National Top-level domain Registries. It is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the interest of country code TLD managers. 

registrar

Is the entity that registers a domain name for a company, organization or person. Next to the “resale” of web addresses registrars can also offer hosting services, web design... 

registrant

Domain owner, person who holds a domain name.

DNS

Domain Name System or Domain Name Server. The global DNS is the system and protocol used on the internet to translate domain names into IP addresses and vice versa. 

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