The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is warning small businesses to look out for dodgy domain name registration services, after receiving several complaints from companies.
The dotcom cowboys contact a business saying that a third party is just about to buy a domain name that would suit them, but that if they get in quickly, they can buy it for themselves. Trouble is, the OFT says, that the third party is often a figment of the salesman's imagination, conjured up to pressure the target company into making a quick purchase.
Nominet, the UK's national registry for .uk domain names, says people should not be coerced into accepting unsolicited offers. Lesley Cowley, MD, added that "local businesses are particularly vulnerable to this kind of practice".
The scam falls under the 'misleading advertising' banner, which should be dealt with by local trading standard officers. The OFT only gets involved as a last resort and beyond telling the companies not to do it again, there is not much it can do.
John Vickers, OFT chairman, said: "Businesses should be wary of cold callers putting pressure on them to buy domain names in haste. We have warned a number of domain name registration agents about their selling practices and will continue to crack down on any misleading claims." ®