Fraudulent websites blocked

19 December 2019

Nothing is as easy as online shopping. In just a few clicks, you can choose from a huge range of products. Easily ordered and paid. As a gift to yourself, you receive it at your home the next day. Consumers have increasingly more trust in online money transactions. Unfortunately, fraudsters know that too. More and more fake webshops are appearing: you buy something, you pay and you get nothing. But you did share your credit card details.

To tackle this fraud more effectively, DNS Belgium and the FPS Economy have joined forces for a safer internet. The new Notice & Action procedure allows us to take fake webshops offline faster.

Until recently, the FPS Economy had to forward the file to the public prosecutor's office with a request to take action. The decision was then forwarded to DNS Belgium for further follow-up. Before we were able to block a fake website and domain name, a few weeks had passed. In the space of a few weeks, cybercriminals are able to collect a lot of credit card information from unsuspecting consumers.

N&A procedure

We felt this process had to be speeded up which is why we joined forces with the FPS Economy. About a year ago, the so-called Notice & Action procedure was thus established to be able to take more resolute action against these fraudsters.

At the FPS Economy's request, we apply the N&A protocol in case of serious infringements. The first step is to make the .be domain names with fraudulent content immediately inaccessible. The URL of the website redirects you to a warning page of the FPS Economy.

The domain name holders are then given the opportunity to prove that they are bona fide before the domain name is removed. Unsurprisingly, hardly anyone takes this opportunity.

Better results

Since December 2018, we have dealt with various cases in which the N&A procedure was applied.

In January 2019, there were two cases in which 12 and 103 .be domain names respectively were blocked. These were clearly fraudulent webshops that had taken over an existing domain name to host a fake webshop on it.

In April and May there were two new cases in which a website with a .be domain name was used to defraud visitors via a fraudulent debt collection agency, which unfortunately is becoming increasingly common.

More recent cases involved forms of online fraud, such as offering fake investments, fake support services and a fake lottery.

For the time being, we are satisfied with the results. The N&A procedure allows us to act relatively quickly against the misuse of .be domain names.

Thanks to our cooperation with the FPS Economy and other efforts to combat internet abuse (see below), the illegal practices involving .be domain names have also decreased in 2019.

Great complement to our other procedures

The N&A procedure complements existing procedures that we use to create a high-quality and safe internet environment in Belgium:

  • Revoke procedure. This procedure ensures the accuracy of a domain name holder's data. In the event of wrong data, the domain name holder has 14 days in which to modify these data before we revoke the domain name.
  • Revoke+ procedure. A procedure similar to the revoke┬áprocedure, but we act faster. It is used mainly to prevent phishing . We make sure the fraudulent website linked to the domain name is no longer accessible. Again, the domain name holder has 14 days to respond.
  • DNS Belgium also executes legal decisions (both of the public prosecutor's office and of the courts) when they are submitted to us. In that case, we can revoke a domain name immediately.
  • And finally, we also detect fraud based on previously identified fraudulent e-commerce sites, using the algorithm we developed ourselves.

With this article, we support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.