The Pretenders: Protecting Your Business Against Domain Name Scammers

Domain name registration is essential to protecting your brand and reputation. Cyber-squatting and domain hijacking are common issues that create cyber-attack risks for your business (and your customers).

Another common problem is where bad actors register domain names similar to your own. These actors then pretend to be affiliated with your business, in order to scam your customers and suppliers. For example, you may own the domain licence for “”. A scammer may register “” and contact your customers and suppliers using a “” email. The scammer can then attempt to redirect payments, gain access to compromising information or place orders with your suppliers (charged to your account).

Although it is always advisable to notify the authorities of any scams, this may not provide a timely resolution to the issue. However, there are options to apply for transfer of the offending domain name if you are able to meet the criteria set out in the .au Dispute Resolution Policy or the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (Policies).

In short, the Policies allow for an interest party to apply for resolution of a domain dispute by arbitration. To success, you need to persuade the arbitration panel that:

  • the offending domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and
  • the other party has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name;
  • the other party has registered the domain name in bad faith.

Generally, if a person is using a domain to run a scam, it will meet the criteria of bad faith. However, you will need to also demonstrate your rights in the domain name itself. The most effective way to do this is to have your business name and branding registered as a trade mark.

Assuming you meet the criteria set out above, the panel will order that the offending domain be transferred into your name.

Lavan comment

The best way to avoid the above issues is to:

  • register all available domain names similar to your business’ name; and
  • register trade marks for your name and branding.

If you require our advice in respect of protecting your name rights, including by apply for an order for transfer of a domain, do not hesitate to contact Iain Freeman or Andrew Sutton.

Disclaimer – the information contained in this publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice in relation to any particular matter you may have before relying or acting on this information. The Lavan team are here to assist.