You will certainly be aware of the plethora of email scams sent from fictional Nigerian royalty, imaginary banks and non-existent relatives promising inheritance. Such schemes aim to trick unsuspecting email readers into disclosing personal bank details, only to have them discover later that their accounts have been raided. These types of scams also extend to invoicing scams, which often appear to originate from trade mark authorities or domain name providers.
Trade Mark Authorities
We are currently aware that a number of our trade mark clients have received unsolicited invoices from a variety of international-based organisations such as TMP – Trade Mark Publishers and TM Collection. The unsolicited invoices request payment of fees covering registration costs. These organisations are not associated with IP Australia, nor do they have any official or government authority.
Domain Name Providers
Another popular avenue for these schemes is to send an email requesting payment to keep your domain name registered or to secure a new domain similar to one that you already hold.
The only payments needed to maintain a domain name are to the company with whom you originally registered the domain name. This will comprise an annual licence fee plus any hosting fees, which will depend on the size and complexity of your website.
You should ignore any invoices from unfamiliar companies who seek payment to keep a domain name registered, and be very wary of people seeking to sell you domain names by email.
Protecting yourself against invoicing scams
We recommend that the activities of any service provider are confirmed as legitimate before payment of any unsolicited invoices, particularly relating to trade mark or other intellectual property matters.
We feel it prudent to alert you to these hoaxes currently being employed by scammers and to remind individuals and businesses to be wary of them.
If you are in doubt as to the validity of such requests for payment please contact one of our Technology & Media lawyers.
Author: Noelene Treloar