Domain editor

Small businesses warned to act urgently on domain names

“I’m not surprised that so few people know this because the public awareness campaign had less of an impact, but I want to make sure small businesses don’t have a horrible surprise when they find out someone others use or abuse the shortened version of their digital asset being their domain name.

Mr Billson said the consequences of not registering an existing business name before the deadline could be catastrophic for traders.

“The identity of a company”

“Domain names are the identity of a business and are essential to its success. Small businesses cannot afford to sell their identity to someone else,” he said.

“It’s like cutting a second set of keys to your front door and selling them to a rival, a stranger trying to resell them to you for a higher price or a criminal using them to scam your customers.”

Domain names ending in .com.au require owners to have an Australian business number. Rules for new .au domains require registrants to demonstrate an established connection to Australia.

Over 170,000 direct .au domain names were registered at the end of the June quarter.

“The deadline needs to be extended significantly,” Billson said.

“We are not unhappy with the introduction of the .au domain, but these crucial Internet addresses must first be available to the right people, and they must be properly informed of the change and given a reasonable period of time to act.”

The Institute of Chartered Accountants’ chief technical policy officer, Tony Greco, said the brand recognition generated by websites is a big part of a company’s goodwill.

He warned that small businesses that don’t have an IT advisor or in-house capacity were particularly vulnerable to change.

“The consequences of not registering your existing business name by the deadline could be commercially disastrous for a business if a competitor or another business takes its name online,” he said.

Mr. Greco recently contacted the ombudsman to express his concerns about the lack of awareness of the change and the potentially damaging consequences.

“We called 12 of our small business service members across the country and only one was aware of this change,” he said.