The Federal Trade Commission has put the issue of pre-registration services on its list of dot cons. A new message alert has been put on the government body's Web site entitled "What's Dot and What's Not: Domain Name Registration Scams".
The controversy over the new domains is still raging but the trouble with pre-registration started off at the end of September when ICANN posted an article saying the practice was premature. And strictly it is: because ICANN has only now decided on what top-level domains it will grant us to use and now it has to decide on who it wishes to run each TLD.
However, as we reported when this article came out, registrar Regland.com was very unimpressed with ICANN. It has been running a .web service without ICANN's official approval and saw the secretive organisation's move as an attempt to discredit it before the new TLD owners were decided.
That said, there are inevitably some con artists that are using the confusion over the TLDs and the crazed need of people to get hold of sites on the new domains to make some sly cash. According to the FTC "consumers are getting fax and email solicitations that offer a chance at a new top level domain name, for a fee, as soon as it becomes available. Some unscrupulous registration services are guaranteeing new top-level domain names or promising preferential treatment in the registration process. But, the agency cautions, these offers are premature."
The FTC also has more faith in ICANN that we ever will. Apparently "if ICANN decides to add top level domain names to the current mix (e.g., .org, .com and .net), it is likely to set rules about their availability and allocation to ensure fair access by all." Fair access by all? Yeah, right. ®