DROA Domain Registry of America (DROA) is running a tricky Internet marketing scheme that all owners of dental websites should be aware of.
DROA sends you what appears to be a bill for your domain name renewal. But you more than likely don’t owe DROA a single penny. They’re hoping you’ll pay the bill anyway, at which point they’ll take over your domain name registration – and quite possibly charge you 10 times what you were previously paying.
|What “domain names” are
You may receive an invoice in the mail that claims to be a “Domain Name Expiration Notice.” This official-looking document tells you, “You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web.”
Or it could be an email that apparently confirms a purchase you never made. The subject line reads “Order Confirmation,” and the email reads, “Thank you for registering/renewing the following domains with the Domain Registry of America, America’s fastest growing domain registrar.”
A few days later you’ll get a second email letting you know that “The transfer and renewal of your domain name is not yet complete at this time.” They’ll ask you for the information needed to complete the transfer – and then they’ll bill you for that.
But what they never tell you is that you don’t have to renew your domain through DROA. You already have your domain name through another company, and that’s really who you should use to renew it. In fact, DROA will likely charge you several times what you’re currently paying. They’ll also charge you a fee for transferring your domain.
And once DROA gets a hold of your domain name, getting it back can be difficult. Rumor has it that DROA changes the email address associated with the web domain from your email address to theirs. In addition, there’s a minimum waiting period of 60 days.
Shouldn’t This Be Illegal?
Oh yes! In fact, the FTC slammed DROA in 2003.
“The Federal Trade Commission has requested that a federal district court enjoin Domain Registry of America, Inc., an Internet domain name re-seller, from making misrepresentations in the marketing of its domain name registration services and require it to pay redress to consumers.
“According to the FTC, the company told consumers that their domain registrations were expiring, leading many consumers unwittingly to switch their domain name registrar. The company also allegedly did not disclose that it would charge a processing fee to consumers if their transfer request was not competed – for any reason – and failed to provide consumers refunds in a timely manner.
“Under the terms of the stipulated final order announced today, Domain Registry of America (DROA), based in Ontario, Canada, may be required to provide redress to up to 50,000 consumers, is prohibited from engaging in similar conduct in the future, and is subject to stringent monitoring by the Commission to ensure its compliance with the court order.
“…In marketing its domain name registration services, DROA has violated the FTC Act in several ways. First, it allegedly uses notices/invoices that mislead consumers into thinking that they are renewing their registrations with their current registrar when, instead, they are transferring their registrations to DROA’s registrar, eNom… The FTC also contends that DROA fails to issue promised refunds in a timely manner… sometimes delaying refunds for months.
“First, the order bars DROA from making false or misleading representations in connection with the advertising, marketing, and promotion of domain name services. It also bars DROA from failing to disclose, clearly and conspicuously, any cancellation or processing fees, and any limitations or restrictions on cancelling domain name services.
“In addition, the stipulated order calls for monetary redress to reimburse consumers that DROA misled… It is anticipated that approximately 50,000 DROA customers will have the opportunity to transfer to another registrar under this provision.”
Have You Been Targeted by DROA?
If one of your dental websites has been targeted by this scam, you can click here to find out how to lodge formal complaints with the FTC and ICANN.
In addition, if you’re a member of the Internet Dental Alliance who has received a notice, feel free to contact our dental website marketing support team at 888-476-4886. They will be more than happy to explain this in greater detail. They will also confirm the current registrar details of any domain names in question.
What do you think? Is this a clever dental marketing scheme or something more sinister?