Advisory Concerning Deceptive Notices from "Change Dispute Resolution"
Summary. ICANN has recently received many reports of domain-name registrants receiving "Domain Dispute Notification" mailings from an entity identifying itself as "XChange Dispute Resolution." The mailings falsely state that XChange is an "ICANN authorized arbitrator" and that the registrant must mail in a "security deposit fee" to defend "ownership of the domain name."
Registrants are warned not to be tricked by these false notices.
Details of the False Notices. These notices are addressed to domain-name registrants, identify a domain name, and state that "XChange Disputes has received a Domain Dispute Resolution Complaint (DDRC) under the Uniform Domain Resolution Policy (UDRP) estabished by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ... " The notification also warns "You are required under the UDRP to participate in this arbitration case or relinquish ownership of the domain. If you accept the loss of control of this domain to Party A then no reply is required from yourself."
The mailing (to see a copy click here) instructs the recipient to "defend" the identified domain name by returning a completed form along with a "security deposit." The requested security deposit, which appears to range from $250 to $1250, is allegedly required from the registrant in order to "ensure a genuine belief of ownership ...". The mailing instructs registrants to send a check for the security deposit, made payable to "XChange Reciprocal Services" at 490 Fallon Road, Petaluma, CA 94952-9655. The notices all appear to be signed by "Janice Veneno, Dispute Resolution Service Representative, XChange Dispute Resolution (an ICANN authorized arbitrator)." A page of "Dispute Guidelines" attached to the notices states that "As an ICANN-certified UDRP arbitrator we follow the rules and regulations set out by the ICANN committee" and that the "security deposit" will be "returned to the registrant at the end of the dispute process whatever the outcome."
The True Facts. The sender of these notices has not been approved by ICANN as a provider of dispute-resolution services under ICANN's Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). The authoritative list of all approved providers is posted on the ICANN website at <http://www.icann.org/en/dndr/udrp/approved-providers.htm>. ICANN's UDRP does not allow dispute-resolution service providers to demand a "security deposit" from registrants, and does not deprive registrants of the rights to their names solely because of a failure to reply to a notice of a dispute.
What to Do If You Receive the Notice. By all means, do not send money as requested by this notice! Instead, please contact an appropriate governmental law enforcement/consumer protection agency to report the incident. If you wish, you can fax the notice to ICANN at +1 310 823-8649; we may pass it on to an appropriate law-enforcement agency.