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VeriSign Blackmails Its Former Customers

By levsen in Internet
Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 02:23:45 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

VeriSign, owner of the original Network Solutions domain name registration business and maintainer of the the Internet's DNS root server and master domain database, seems to be resorting to its former monopoly resources to blackmail people into doing business with them.

Looking at this email which I got yesterday, VeriSign apparently has a campaign going on to illegally threaten their former customers who have long moved their domains to one of the many alternate registrars that they would quickly lose their existing domains (often essential for business) if they didn't "renew" them with VeriSign by clicking on a link provided in an email.

Trust me that the domain referred to in the email, as well as any other domains that I own, have not been maintained by VeriSign for some time and that they are perfectly safe and paid for for a couple of years. Clicking the link and "renewing" the domain with VeriSign would not only move the domain back to VeriSign, it would also take at least $29 out of my pocket for nothing at all.

Now, while con men have long been sending bogus invoices for stuff you haven't bought to exploit those businesses who mindlessly pay any incoming bill below a certain amount without further verfication, this is certainly several orders of magnitude worse:

a) It is not just fraud, it is outright blackmail. Even though your domain will not be "lost", as repeatedly claimed in the threat, this fact will be lost on less technical people, which most likely is exactly what VeriSign intends.

b) VeriSign is drawing on its resources from a former US government granted monopoly here. Anybody who had a domain before 2000 was once a customer of VeriSign/NetSol.

c) Remember, this is the company ICANN entrusted with the guts of the Internet, the DNS root server and master domain database. Nice to see their high standard of ethics.


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VeriSign Blackmails Its Former Customers | 82 comments (62 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Mind you (3.66 / 6) (#1)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:04:04 PM EST

(and I'm not sure if this is better or worse), it's quite possible that NSI isn't being slimy so much as stupid. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if they simply weren't aware that the domain had since been registered elsewhere.

As near as I can tell from the outside, NSI is operated entirely by temps, rotated almost daily. My theory is that as soon as anybody develops any competence he slips over the wall and goes someplace better.

huh? (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by Danse on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:53:41 PM EST

How could they not be aware that the domain is not registered with them? I believe that a company should get the benefit of the doubt, but NSI has done so many slimy things in the past that I, for one, don't really have any doubt that this is yet another of their underhanded tactics. Really, how many chances should they get before we start calling this stuff what it really is?

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
How? (none / 0) (#72)
by davidduncanscott on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 12:58:50 PM EST

Easy -- all they have to do is not do a whois, but instead rely solely on a list of expired domains. It would be stupid, of course, and it would be childishly easy to automate the correct process, but as I'm sure you've noticed when working through the arcane process of making changes to an NSI-registered domain, their automation sucks.

Please understand that I'm not defending NSI, just pointing out that their behaviour in this instance might be explicable through their already-well-established incompetence. Think of it as an alternative theory.

[ Parent ]

NSI and Paying Attention (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by 87C751 on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 04:50:39 PM EST

I recall, before I moved my domain off of NSI, ( <shameless_plug>Dotster</shameless_plug> )they sent me a spam-o-gram urging me to register the .net and .org versions of my basename. Curiously, both alternates were already registered... with NSI.

My ranting place.
[ Parent ]

NSI = incompetence + bad policies (4.66 / 3) (#20)
by omegadan on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 08:02:39 PM EST

I had some domains with NSI for some customers... I decided to cancel this particular customers domains (they felt they shouldn't have to pay anymore, so I felt they shouldn't have a website anymore :) ), so I sent in a cancelation slip to NSI *two* months before the domains expired. 7 weeks later they sent me a letter saying they couldn't cancel my domains because *they were up for renewal* (which they wouldn't have been if they hadn't waited 7 weeks to process my cancelation).

Long story short, they wanted me to pay the renewal on the domains to cancel them ... So I let them lapse ...

Just one of the reasons Im never gonna go back to the HTML business :)

Religion is a gateway psychosis. - Dave Foley
[ Parent ]

Well... (3.00 / 4) (#3)
by haflinger on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:11:30 PM EST

I think you're probably overreacting. I suspect the stupidity that comes with being a large bureaucracy is the cause, rather than a deliberate ploy to baffle people into giving them money.

However, this behaviour does point up another problem: VeriSign grants the majority of SSL certificates in use today. This is a critical monopoly they hold. Should they be trusted with it? They haven't shown a great deal of trustworthiness in the past.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey

Addendum (4.54 / 11) (#6)
by levsen on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:34:30 PM EST


Judging from the comments that start coming in, people seem to suggest that it might been a one-off mistake by VeriSign. Go back and look at the email again and tell me whether you think this is a mistake by an overly eager sales greenhorn or a well-crafted email generated by the 1000's by an automated script. I think it's the latter.

Also, VeriSign is the first one to know when a domain is moved somewhere else. They maintain the master domain database which has precisely that information in it. Just to make sure I also called VeriSign customer support yesterday, purporting to be clueless and asking to pay for my "renewal". I spelled out the domain name over and over again to the poor clerk, but alas, he couldn't find it in his computer. :)
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.

Blowing things way out of proportion (3.50 / 2) (#32)
by John Milton on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 04:46:54 AM EST

Yes, it probably is a mistake on verisign's part. The amazing thing is that this article is actually getting voted up. It's quite likely that one department at verisign has a glitch. The fact that this is a well-crafted email generated by the 1000's by an automated script proves nothing. Presumably, verisign does use well-crafted emails generated by the 1000's by an automated script to handle these issues. The process is automated. I got a well-crafted letter every couple of weeks from my local medical clinic for $1. When I brought it up, they said sometimes the computer glitches. No big story. The fact that the clerk couldn't find you in the computer negates this whole conspiracy theory. If they really were trying to trick people, don't you think they'd make it easy for them.

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

[ Parent ]
Quite Easy (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by levsen on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 08:52:29 AM EST

I think providing a link in the email that you just have to click is making it quite easy.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
The difference (none / 0) (#75)
by BlowCat on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 03:03:57 PM EST

There is a big difference between VeriSign and a medical clinic. If you are registering domain names, you have to hire IT professionals, or you are in trouble.

The assumption that VeriSign staff don't know how to write (and fix!) SQL queries is as much damaging to them as the assumption that they are blackmailing their former customers.

[ Parent ]

It comes by snail mail, too (4.57 / 7) (#14)
by anon 17753 on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 07:19:14 PM EST

Over the past few months, I've received dozens of letters from Interland (a VeriSign company) advising me to renew domains that have never been registered with them.

Direct link.... (none / 0) (#78)
by Ben Welsh on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 04:04:37 PM EST

Excuse me while I one-up you :^P

File a complaint

Christianity Meme
[ Parent ]
Verisign is not alone. (4.25 / 8) (#17)
by jusx on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 07:30:34 PM EST

Verisign is not the only one who uses this technique as a way to increase it's customer base. I have received similar mail (snail-mail/direct mail) from a registrar that I haven't even heard of before (don't remember who it was), to renew my domain as it was about to expire. "RENEW now, don't loose your domain.", was what it basically said. Nothing about switching Registrars.

My wife showed me the mail, and said, "hey, didn't we already renew our domain? Why are they sending us another bill?"

I found it funny, since I had renewed my domain with my REAL registrar only a month ago. It is unfortunate that the marketing department of these registrars have to stoop so low as to TRICK people into changing their Registrars.

On a sidenote, I would change the title of your article from Blackmail to something like "Verisign uses tastely marketing trickery on its former customers". That would be more suitable don't you think?

India Arie says, "But I learned to love myself unconditionally, Because I am a queen"

Much as I dislike verisign (4.50 / 4) (#22)
by enry on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 08:39:55 PM EST

I don't think they're in the wrong. According to whois, cleverness.com expires on Feb 11, 2003, but was last updated on Mar 7 (a day after you got your letter). Given the dates on the letter you got from Verisign, it looks like they looked through the records, discovered that your domain wasn't paid up, and sent you a note. Sure, if you clicked there, you would have verisign as your registrar again, but if you really wanted to stay with your alternate registrar, you would have paid the money to refresh the domain.

So maybe the answers to the following questions are in order:

1) Was the domain paid as of Feb 11?
2) Was the domain expired when you got the letter?
3) What part of "If you already renewed, please disregard...." did you miss?

always good until 2003 (4.75 / 4) (#24)
by levsen on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 09:26:00 PM EST

The expiry/update information in whois is managed by the registrar and I don't see any relation to my payments. It's not like I updated or paid anything on March 7. I transferred the domain in July 2001 and paid the fees until Feb 2003 upfront, so at no point in time was it even close to being expired. I hope that clarifies it for you.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
WHOIS is broken (4.75 / 4) (#25)
by levsen on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 09:36:51 PM EST

The recent "update" date seem to be a result of a bug in VeriSign's WHOIS system. Example, go to netsol.com, go to whois, enter a domain name which is not registered with VeriSign, hit enter, refresh the page. The whois record will show today's date as "update". Seems anybody can "update" the date just by displaying the record in his browser. Duh.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
Not me. (none / 0) (#27)
by enry on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 10:15:16 PM EST

Still says Mar 7.

[ Parent ]
Ok, I don't know what's going on there (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by levsen on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 08:35:49 AM EST

Hm, I "updated" my other domains levsen.org -.com, -.net this way yesterday, so they are March 8 now, but I agree it doesn't work anymore. Whatever. Don't put too much meaning into the "updated" field.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
the update field (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by frozencrow on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 09:16:20 AM EST

WHOIS databases are updated daily, so the "database last updated" field is always pretty recent. The field you're looking for is the "record last updated" field. If you're only seeing one update field, it's probably a problem with your WHOIS client.

[ Parent ]
Too true. (4.12 / 8) (#26)
by Jehreg on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 09:56:22 PM EST

I have gotten emails, faxes, and phone calls telling me that my domains would stop working if I did not renew with Network Solutions/Verisign. None of my domains are handled by Network Solutions anymore, so it is my absolute pleasure to scream crap at them, as abusive language as I possibly can, and them slam the phone down.

I have about 30 domains, and every single one has generated at least 4 crap-missives from NSI each year.

They never learn. I am still in their call list. Some poor tech is cringing just thinking about calling me... (Don't give me no lip about the poor tech, I've been at their end too. I know the call is being recorded, and the techs have treated me like crap waaaaaayyyy before I started to pile into them)

Good ol' phone slamming (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by ariux on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 11:20:52 PM EST

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Slamming (4.66 / 3) (#33)
by Wiccabilly on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 07:29:07 AM EST

This is indeed the same thing as slamming and cramming on your phone bills. It should be noted then, that slamming and cramming are both illegal and are one of the few consumer concerns the American FTC actually bothers to take note of. Complaints to the FTC and FCC for Americna users and to ICANN for all would be a good idea EVERY time this happens. When dealing with any bureaucracy, starting a paper trail is a paramount concern to resolving anything. It often takes a year (or more) of such documentation before anyone even bothers to do anything but send you a form letter assuring you that your concerns are so important they took the time to send you an automatic form letter.

[ Parent ]
waah! My domain registrar is blackmailing me! (2.12 / 8) (#30)
by lvogel on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 12:28:18 AM EST

Why don't you put your cleverness.com to good use?

And I thought *I* was a dork...
-- ----------------------
"When you're on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog!"

-a dog
Contact (4.60 / 10) (#38)
by wiredog on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 11:02:43 AM EST

The Federal Trade Commision and see what they have to say.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
Not Blackmail (4.30 / 10) (#39)
by jungleboogie on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 12:22:33 PM EST

This is not blackmail, this is fraud. Specifically, it is "pro-forma invoicing" and it is illegal.

Nope, it's not just "pro-forma invoicing" (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 01:30:24 AM EST

While it may also be that, I don't know the technical defination, an important distinction is that Verisign is threatening to cause harm in the email, thus making it extortion, not 'just' fraud.

But you're right, it's not blackmail no matter what. Extortion is only blackmail when it's information that you're being threatened with, not a 'lease expiration'.

I honestly have no clue why everyone online seems to be on crack with calling all extortion 'blackmail'. Good grief, people just look at the word. 'black' and 'mail'. Evil information. Sheesh. If someone is blackmailing you they are holding 'evil' information over you.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

It's even better than that. (4.83 / 6) (#41)
by Elkor on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 01:28:40 PM EST

I have received 3 notices from them regarding domains that were never even registered through them.

I registered 3 domains on a 2 year contract through v3domains.com. A few weeks ago I received three letters telling me that my domains would expire on the one year anniversary date.

The "odd" thing is that when I look up my domains in Verisign's lookup (as opposed to v3domains') it gives the proper expiration in 2003.

Seems to me like their auto-mailer program has a bug in it.

The odds of this bug being unknown by now are nil. The question becomes whether Verisign is intentionally not fixing the bug, or incapable of fixing the bug.

Either way, it makes me not want to do business with them.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Exactly (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by hebertrich on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 08:56:21 PM EST

ANY company that spams my mailbox is out for me. Simple.They spam or send me unwanted emails ? They simply are on my list of companies i will not deal with.Even if they were the suppliers of a gizmo i need , and noone else makes it.. out. Simple you spam me you have no business from me. Veri Sign is the latest addition to my list : ) Richard

[ Parent ]
It's not spam (none / 0) (#74)
by BlowCat on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 02:51:26 PM EST

The e-mail was sent to the person who had had a business relationship with VeriSign. VeriSign has that e-mail address legitimately.

That being said, I always stop doing any business with companies that send me e-mail advertizing (i.e. something unrelated to my previous business with them). Whether it's considered spam or not, they are misusing my data.

[ Parent ]

Alarmist Nonsense (2.50 / 8) (#42)
by CubistPoet on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 02:35:52 PM EST

The author is seriously inflating the amount of danger here.

While not all domain owners are technologically savvy, most of them probably know which company they purchased their domain from. They probably have an account with that company and numerous emails sitting in their inbox from them with various registration information. If that company is not VeriSign, common sense would dictate that this email is completely bogus. Even if they did believe that the email could be legit, common sense would dictate checking with the company with which you are registered to confirm things.

I've certainly received lots of junk mail referring to myself by name/location and, when I had a domain name, it as well. I had no problem distinguishing between legit emails from jumpline regarding my domain and spam. This VeriSign email reeks of spam.

Most obviously from this excerpt:

"If you do not wish to receive e-mail promotions from VeriSign, click here.

Please do not reply to this message unless you wish to unsubscribe. For any VeriSign customer service inquiries, please click here."

This pretty much establishs the fact that this is a promotional email rather than a service notice.

It's a cheap trick to be sure and even maybe a new low, but hardly blackmail or even fraud really.

Especially since I find it likely that if one actually when to this "Renewal" page, it would turn out to be a "Domain Transfer" page instead. It would be nice if the author had actually bothered to find out what the link lead to, as I find it likely that this crap would've been revealed as just that upon doing so.

The only notable aspect of this story is the fact that a company that supposedly is respectable is doing it, which means we can probably expect more of this from anyone and everyone.

--Cubist Poet--
Idiot. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by Legion303 on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 02:50:05 PM EST

Take your own advice and follow the link instead of speculating. The word "transfer" does not occur on the page. In fact, if you "had actually bothered to find out what the link lead to" you would have seen this:

Multi-Year Renewal Enter the domain name you want to renew

Be sure to fill in all fields and click Continue at the bottom of the page when finished.

Domain Name:
For example: yourname.com

Your renewal term begins on the last day of your current expiration date. Save 10% - 40% when you register for more than one year.

Renewal Term:
Contact Name:

[ Parent ]

Blind, Not Stupid (none / 0) (#66)
by CubistPoet on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 02:31:59 AM EST

Take your own advice and follow the link instead of speculating. The word "transfer" does not occur on the page. In fact, if you "had actually bothered to find out what the link lead to" you would have seen this: I actually, for whatever reason, completely failed to see the link, or else I would've done just that.

The actual form is somewhat more disturbing than the email though, since it seems to imply that anyone can transfer any domain to VeriSign...

Unless of course, they're using credit card numbers for verification, which is somewhat worse when you stop to think about it since it would mean that VeriSign has access to your credit card information regardless of who you're registered with...

The email and the page are certainly misleading, but the reality is still that nothing would (or should at any rate) happen if you ignore them, which anyone sensible should be competent enough to do. I find it somewhat insulting that the original author seemed to think that the vast majority of people wouldn't have enough sense to check with the company that they have the domain registered with before agreeing to pay some kinda extra renewal fee.

--Cubist Poet--
[ Parent ]

Comment Nonsense (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by levsen on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 03:00:25 PM EST

It would be nice if the author had actually bothered to find out what the link lead to, as I find it likely that this crap would've been revealed as just that upon doing so.

It would be nice if the commentater had actually bothered to find out what the link leads to. Just go back to the email and click it. It doesn't say "transfer" anywhere on that page.

Concerning the fraud vs. blackmail/extortion issue: Which part of "It will be deleted very soon unless you renew it immediately" don't you understand. You may have gotten fake invoices for some stuff or other you didn't order, but I bet none of them threatened to take away from you what you already own.

I have the suspicion that half of the commentaters here didn't even click on the link to the email that I provided. Seems to be too much to ask for.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]

Nonsense?! (none / 0) (#65)
by CubistPoet on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 02:26:37 AM EST

It would be nice if the commentater had actually bothered to find out what the link leads to. Just go back to the email and click it. It doesn't say "transfer" anywhere on that page.

It would've been nice if the commentater hadn't somehow failed to see that the link was still in the email and clicked on it. Then he might not have made a fool of himself. ;)

Still. I would like to see what would happen if you actually filled out the form for a domain registered elsewhere.

Since VeriSign's form had no sort of verification of ownership of the domain beyond information publically available at least on that first form, it would seem to be possible for anyone, owner or not, to go in and transfer the domain.

That goes way beyond fraud or blackmail.

Concerning the fraud vs. blackmail/extortion issue: Which part of "It will be deleted very soon unless you renew it immediately" don't you understand. You may have gotten fake invoices for some stuff or other you didn't order, but I bet none of them threatened to take away from you what you already own.

I understand it perfectly. I just find it unlikely that anyone would believe it. And note also at the bottom that is says, "If you have already renewed, please disregard this notice and accept our apologies for any inconvenience.", which pretty much invalidates the part at the top which you mentioned, in my mind anyway.

And I did read the email dude. You may have noticed in my comment that I quoted it. For some reason, the link just slipped by my eyes. Tiredness perhaps?

I still think that you're completely overblowing the size of the danger here. It's possible that a limited number of people might get fooled, but to me the message seems to pretty obviously be nothing more than a new low for spam.

--Cubist Poet--
[ Parent ]

As admitted by levsen (2.00 / 1) (#48)
by sgp on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 08:50:06 PM EST

Since levsen obviously saw through it, he was not fooled. I cannot see that a non-technical business person would be fooled, either.

Select one:

  • I understand how DNS works, that VeriSign run the .com (and other) TLDs, I'd be fooled by this otherwise, but I'm not, because I know who my domain's registered with.
  • I'm not tech-savvy, but I know we registered our domain with VeriSign, but transferred it to example.com 6 months ago. So this doesn't apply to me.
Whichever way you go - tech-savvy or not - if you're not registered with VeriSign you ignore it. The only people who'd respond would be those who registered with VeriSign and haven't changed since.

It's just promotional email - sure, they would have done better to have checked first whether they were still responsible for the domain - from such a "supposedly respectable" (to quote the parent) company, this should be expected.

My favourite spam recently was something along the lines of "We will register your domain with search engines for you!" ... I just replied (it didn't bounce for once!) saying, "Well, you found me, so I'm happy enough already."

This kind of junk comes with the territory of "Owning" a domain (yeah, like any of us really own them, but that's another story).

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

not in my experience (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by frozencrow on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 09:40:34 AM EST

I think you are giving too much credit to people who are not tech-savvy (your second bullet item.) Most people do not understand how the whole registrar/domain thing works. That is why, where I work, we do not let the business folks be listed as contacts anymore ;)

[ Parent ]
registrar (5.00 / 7) (#44)
by Stoptional on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 02:54:47 PM EST

As a (very) small reseller of domain names I can tell you that every time NetSol does one of these mailing we receive many calls from confused clients who wonder what to do. Is their domain in danger? Should they pay NetSol cause - "It all looks very official"? Most of our clients do not know how the registration system works and do not care - they just want their sites & email to work. That's why they pay us - and, you know, we have (and do) try to educate them in the working of the system. They do not want to know! There is NO doubt in my mind that what NetSol is doing is, at best, deceptive and at worst, outright fraud. They have every incentive to contiinue the practise as well - cash money! They are preying on the ignorance of folks. Imagine if the issuance of Driver's licenses were privatized. Wouldn't you worry about the validity of yours if you got a notice from the DOT (or whatever in your country) saying it was about to expire? Over the years I have seen NetSol do a great many unsavoury things. I do believe that they need to be relieved of the responsibility of the Registry database and/or the root servers.

What does VeriSign have to say? (4.75 / 4) (#46)
by xee on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 03:21:33 PM EST

Has anyone contacted VeriSign about this? Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it could just be an error in their system. Maybe the process that sends out these mails isn't aware of the fact that VeriSign doesn't control the domain anymore. Sure, i dislike VeriSign as much as the next guy (yes, i've had to deal with them, i know how they are) but unless anyone's actually contacted VeriSign about this issue we should keep in mind that it's all speculation.

Proud to be a member.
Not blackmail (4.16 / 6) (#47)
by vectro on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 05:00:52 PM EST

nor extortion. Just good old fraud.

Blackmail is when you ask for some kind of payment in exchange for not telling a third party about something. E.g., give me $50 or I'll tell you wife about your affair. Blackmail is a kind of extortion.

Extortion is when you ask for some kind of payment in exchange for not doing something harmful. E.g., give me $50 or I'll slash your tires.

Fraud, on the other hand, is gain by trickery, artifice, or device. This is one example; another might be Enron.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
Extortion (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by levsen on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 07:26:47 PM EST

In which way is "I'll slash your tires" not like "we'll delete your domain"? Your example fits perfectly. It is extortion.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
well (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by needless on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 03:12:30 PM EST

In which way is "I'll slash your tires" not like "we'll delete your domain"?

The same way "I'll set fire to your house" is not like "I'll sell your house". I don't own your house, therefore there is no way in reality I can sell it. Much like how Verisign can't delete your domain.

[ Parent ]
Verisign can, in fact, delete any domain. (4.50 / 2) (#79)
by DavidTC on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 01:09:58 AM EST

They run the root servers, they certainly are physically capable of deleting your domain from the system. They aren't legally allowed to do it, but the extortionist isn't legally allowed to set your house on fire, either.

They want money to not do something illegal that will harm you. Sure sounds like extortion to me.

But, wait, I forgot, Verisign can do anything it wants to as long as it's 'a mistake'. Hence it can lose transfers, threaten customers (and ex-customers) with property loss, grab expired domains and hold them for ransom, things that would normally be illegal but have mysteriously become okay because Verisign is just being so incompetent that it has transcended incompence and has become competent from the opposite direction, like an Inspecter Clouseau working for the mafia, who accidently shakes down local businesses when trying to sell life insurance.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Verisign (none / 0) (#81)
by needless on Wed Mar 13, 2002 at 06:40:22 PM EST

I stand corrected re: Verisign. The point still stands that they're not actually going to do it - they are simply trying to trick people into believing that they will.

Is it still dirty business? Hell yeah. But it is still correctly termed as fraud, not blackmail or extortion.

[ Parent ]
I've gotten this, too (4.66 / 3) (#50)
by phlog on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 09:03:58 PM EST

The exact-same thing happened to me a little while back. Verisign sent me a very official-looking document that claimed that my domains were about to expire within a few days. I would've sworn that I'd reregistered merely months previous to that, but, nonetheless, I was worried about losing my domains and having some domain-squatting bot grab my domain the second it were available.

If my domain ownership ever slips, I'm afraid it'll be a gigantic hassle to get my hoster to set it back up (I generally try to avoid customer service of any type now.. I basically assume it isn't there, because it sure isn't 90% of the time anymore).

I was about to register with another registrar just to punish this dastardly company, but, like usual, I was afraid my domain would somehow get gobbled up, misdirected, etc.

Additionally, the offer Verisign gave promised a free shirt. It never arrived. There's a second count of fraud.

And, to cap it all off, I'm only 17. I'd love to do something to get back at these awful companies who toss around consumers for profit (and, quite possibly, demented pleasure), but I can't. I've been busy getting ready for college, maintaining my current grades, trying to get a job, and still find time for my friends. Of course, hiring someone to deal with this for me (a lawyer) is clearly out of the picture.

So, what can we (and, esp. those without money or many rights [minors]) do about these sorts of corporate predators? I wish I knew a simple solution.


My website

A Simple Solution (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by Evil Petting Zoo on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 12:39:13 AM EST

Stop doing business with them. Encourage others to not do business with them, and to switch to alternatives. Boycotting is usually the worse thing you can do to a company legally. By taking your business elsewhere you can get better service, more respect, and faster responses for less money.

As for switching domain providers, you can switch anytime. My advice is to seek out a low cost provider or reseller. In my personal experience, Tucows is a great company to use. They only work with domain resellers, so you'll have to look for one to provide you with service (try ISPs). They charge $10/year for domains (your reseller may charge more), and they usually will add remaining time at Versign to transfers.

As for the switch itself, the administrative stuff takes a few days to process at Versign's end. Once they approve, the domain will be transfered to the new company (check using whois). There shouldn't be any downtime on the domain at all in the process. Afterwards, just dump all email from Verisign. In fact, you may want to retire your old email address listed as the hostmaster account if you can, since verisign usually sells it to spammers anyways.

[ Parent ]
Good Ideas (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by phlog on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 04:43:19 AM EST

Yeah, you're right. I guess this is basically low external voting efficacy, though. And, since I think you should bother to vote, I guess voting with money goes the same way. But, regardless, there definitely is that sense of 'my vote doesn't count for anything.'

Generally, I try to avoid that sort of voter apathy, but something definitely needs to be done to better regulate these registrars, to hold them up to the accountability of all other businesses (well, what accountability there is).

Being fairly technologically literate, I really shouldn't be worried about the capability to transfer domains (I've done it a few times myself), etc. I think the much bigger problem is my mistrust of companies in general. Whenever I want sometime done, even simple tasks, companies always manage to disappoint. No one seems to care how they treat the customers anymore.

[ Parent ]
www.signaturedomains.com - i swear by them (none / 0) (#82)
by antigone414 on Sun Mar 17, 2002 at 07:52:37 PM EST

I recommend www.signaturedomains.com.. I would never use anyone else. I've used them for years and been nothing but happy with them. They're polite, quick, and they actually know what they're talking about when you email them. no auto-responders that answer a question you didn't ask while ignoring the one you did ask. just information.. quickly and politely.

that's just my two cents worth though
antigone414 "There are no stupid questions, just stupid people."
[ Parent ]
Worst Service (4.66 / 3) (#51)
by trimethyl on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 09:04:07 PM EST

I had an account with Verisign too, and I can say with full confidence that they provide the worst service I have ever experienced. Not only did they misrepresent the services they offered, they made it almost impossible to actually use the said services.

Worse, in spite of my filling out their questionaires in the most negative way possible, they continued to send me spam regarding my domain name for weeks after I indicated I would no longer register it through them.

Currently, I'm helping a church get their website online. Guess what? They registered with Verisign. They thought they bought a website, but nobody knows for sure, and Verisign isn't being very helpful. Now I have to explain to a bunch of non technical folks that what they bought was not a website, but merely registered a domain name. Seeing as how Verisign's customer service is virtually non-existent (not once could I talk to a human - worse, the autoresponder replied, but even that took days!), I don't think this church has a prayer of getting their site online before their domain name expires.

I strongly recommend against using Verisign for any service whatsoever. My experience with them has been negative from the outset; if I was a District Attorney, I would be charging them with fraud.

Here's a short list of words I associate with Verisign:

  • Fraudulent
  • Dishonest
  • Incompetent
  • Annoying
  • Impersonal
  • Arrogant
  • Condescending
Maybe you can add to my list...

I add 'evil' (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by 8ctavIan on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 12:37:53 PM EST

I would add * evil * to the list.

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]

Ugh... Versign == evil, this article == stupid (3.16 / 6) (#52)
by rampy on Sat Mar 09, 2002 at 09:34:45 PM EST

I totally agree that verisign is uber monopolistic and most definitely shadey... but come on... did you totally miss that line near the bottom where it states (I'd copy paste it but can't reach the email site at the moment) in so many words that if you've allready renewed please disregard (by extension if you renewed elsewhere...)

Like I stated previously... Verisign is shadey, spam sucks, deceptive advertising stinks. But, are you the type of guy/girl who is fooled when they get that "URGENT" snail mail that resembles a quasi-Federal Express overnight envelope that it really was overnighted URGENT to you? Do you really believe you may have already won millions of dollars?

So to recap... Verisign == evil, this article ? You gotta be f'in kidding me.

www.randomdrivel.com -- Fish, plankton, sea-greens, and protein from the sea!
Ahhh.. the example email is back up (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by rampy on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 05:48:02 PM EST

Here's the quote at the bottom of the SPAM:

"If you have already renewed, please disregard this notice and accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

If you do not wish to receive e-mail promotions from VeriSign, click here."

I also find it quite amusing that levson quite liberally hands out 1's to people who correct him/her or have an opposing view. Often, other people have given the same comment a higher rating. I don't care, and am not specifically talking about my comment, but if you look at some of the other comments you too may find it mildly amusing. *Shakes Head*


www.randomdrivel.com -- Fish, plankton, sea-greens, and protein from the sea!
[ Parent ]
Common Cause (none / 0) (#59)
by levsen on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 06:55:50 PM EST

There is a common cause you are missing. See a deeper explanation of this common mistake in reasoning. The common cause is people not reading the article attentively. E.g. go back to the comments and tell me how many people have commented on points b) and c), which are repeated from the first paragraph and essential for the priority of the issue.

A secondary common cause is the subjectivity of the comment, those rated as 1 usually state something as intelligent as "bah, not important" while those rated as 5 usually give numbers and precise accounts of incidents.

Lastly, please also note that those comments I rated as 1 didn't exactly get straight 5's from everybody else either, but just maybe one or two more points.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]

you're kidding right? (1.00 / 1) (#62)
by rampy on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 07:53:35 PM EST


"The common cause is people not reading the article attentively..." OR maybe the common cause is that the article doesn't warrant being read attentively.

B & C are important points... but that doesn't necessarily give them a causal relationship with A. Ah... forget it. There are very legitimate reasons (I imagine) to build a case that Verisign abuses there position in the registrar community. That email asking you to re-up with verisign (despite already moved on to another registrar) is not one of them...

It might be more interesting and fruitful to do a study (even an annecdotal one) on how Verisign handles domain transfers... and the types of processes and rules they put in place to make it difficult to transfer an existing Verisign/NetSol domain out to a 3rd party registrar... But I digress.


www.randomdrivel.com -- Fish, plankton, sea-greens, and protein from the sea!
[ Parent ]
Attention Nay-Sayers (none / 0) (#61)
by levsen on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 07:45:36 PM EST

It is very difficult to prove why or that something is "NOT". This why in any civilized court, prosecution has to prove that "you did it" (killed someone, stole something etc.). The defense specifically does not have to prove that you did not do it. If the prosecution can't prove it, you're free, even if the defense remains silent throughout the whole process.

This is also why I usually rate comments that say something to the order of "this story is NOT important" or "VeriSign did NOT know the domain was not with them" as 1. You'd have to put in a lot more work than that to make your case. This is also why I refuse to put in the extra work of explaining why I think comments are bad/or false.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]

Oh, I get it now! (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by rampy on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 08:05:32 PM EST

It's like you DO NOT necessarily know what you are talking about even though you can link to Fallacies explanations ?

"This why in any civilized court, prosecution has to prove that "you did it" "

See there's the rub... For someone who links to fallacy pages you're reasoning is a bit off. In the court of lev, one cannot point out what isn't so. In the court of rampy, I call B.S. B.S.

Ooooh maybe next smarty pants levenson can explain to us all about Ad-hominem ...


www.randomdrivel.com -- Fish, plankton, sea-greens, and protein from the sea!
[ Parent ]
Fun (none / 0) (#70)
by levsen on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:43:51 AM EST

Hey, since it's probably just us two still reading our comments at this level, this is really becoming fun! No really, I guess I have been trolled.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#73)
by rampy on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 01:04:24 PM EST

I was being quite serious... and not looking to troll. *shrug* I thought this article was a troll to goad people into saying, "yeah that's unfair, Verisign/NetSol sux"

You want to criticize people for not reading (or caring to) read your article all the way through, when the genesis of the article itself is the fact that you didn't read the email from Verisign all the way through.


www.randomdrivel.com -- Fish, plankton, sea-greens, and protein from the sea!
[ Parent ]
The whole domain system is corrupt (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by waltsjc on Sun Mar 10, 2002 at 10:51:45 PM EST

Basically, you have a bunch of buttheads creating an artificial scarcity. There is absolutly no technical reason that there cannot be millions of TLD's. ICANN, Verisign, and all their supporters are EVIL people.

Security, yeah right! (5.00 / 3) (#67)
by CaptainZapp on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 03:33:55 AM EST

Isn't Verisign the "security"-company, selling public key cerificates to anybody who claims he's from Megacorp and wears a tie?

Isn't that the same company essentially rendering the whole public key certification process utterly useless?

Oh, you want a source ? I cite from this CERT advisory:

On January 29 and 30, 2001, VeriSign, Inc. issued two certificates to an individual fraudulently claiming to be an employee of Microsoft Corporation. Any code signed by these certificates will appear to be legitimately signed by Microsoft when, in fact, it is not. Although users who try to run code signed with these certificates will generally be presented with a warning dialog, there will not be any obvious reason to believe that the certificate is not authentic.

That alone should keep any halfway intelligent person or entity from doing business with Verisign, ever!

Fun (1.00 / 1) (#68)
by levsen on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:37:11 AM EST

Hey, since it's probably just us two still reading our comments at this level, this is really becoming fun! No really, I guess I have been trolled.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
oops (none / 0) (#69)
by levsen on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 06:41:48 AM EST

This comment was supposed to be the reply to another comment. Guess I got the threading wrong.
This comment is printed on 100% recycled electrons.
[ Parent ]
Network Solutions are bad people (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by Singularity on Mon Mar 11, 2002 at 12:28:45 PM EST

They have been holding the .com of my company's domain for years, insisting that we register several thousand domains with them, until we earn the right to use it.

Of course they keep increasing the number of domains they want us to register, so I doubt they'll ever release it. Just another example of how unethical they are.

VeriSign Blackmails Its Former Customers | 82 comments (62 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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