FTC settles with VeriSign over domain transfers

In a settlement with U.S. regulators, VeriSign Inc. has agreed to abstain from marketing practices that allegedly tricked consumers into transferring domain names to its Network Solutions business.

In the settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), VeriSign also agrees to allow the FTC to monitor its compliance with the settlement and recommits to providing refunds or free service to customers who responded to an allegedly deceptive marketing mailing from Network Solutions, according to court documents published by the FTC on Wednesday.

In the mailing to customers of competing domain name registrars, VeriSign's Network Solutions warned that their domain name was about to expire and offered to renew it for a fee. The mailing did not state when the name would expire, which in some cases was months or years off. Also, renewal actually meant transfer of the domain to Network Solutions, making the notices deceptive, the FTC charges.

VeriSign in August last year said the FTC was investigating its marketing practices. The company, as part of the settlement, has not admitted violating any laws, the FTC said in a statement.

The settlement with the FTC follows a class action settlement in January this year in which VeriSign agreed to refund customers who had responded to the mailing and had second thoughts, or give the customer a year of free domain registration if they in fact wanted to renew their domain.

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