Industry Letters

Recording Domain Names

June 1, 2000

To: The Institution Addressed

Re: Recording Domain Names

The Internet has become an increasingly important medium for the mortgage banking industry. To help you take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Internet, the Banking Department shall periodically issue bulletins that address Internet related topics. This bulletin pertains to Internet addresses.

E-mail and Web Sites are the two most common ways to communicate over the Internet. E-mail addresses assigned to individuals generally take the following form: [email protected]. The company’s Web Site is similar but not identical to the E-mail address and usually appears as follows: The address of each host location of a computer or document within the Internet is governed by an address protocol known as the Domain Name System. The addresses are styled as "names" to facilitate look-up and query using "web browsers." No two organizations can have the same domain name, also referred to as a "URL" (Universal Resource Locator).

The Banking Department’s experience in connection with the review of applications for approvals of corporate names, which include the use of particularly sensitive words, has led the Banking Department to conclude that the use of the words "bank, trust, savings and guaranty" in the corporate titles of mortgage bankers and brokers, as well as the word "loan" in the corporate title of mortgage brokers, can be misleading and should be avoided. Accordingly, mortgage bankers and brokers should refrain from using a domain name that includes a sequence of letters spelling "bank", "trust", "savings" and "guaranty" as well as derivatives thereof. In addition, a mortgage broker may not use a domain name containing the word "loan" or "lending" unless it can demonstrate that the web site includes a prominent notice adjacent to each appearance of the URL as follows:

[Name of Mortgage Broker]

A domain name that includes a sequence of letters spelling any of the above words or derivatives thereof may be subject to Banking Department review and potential discontinuance.

It appears that many licensees and registrants have not yet reported their domain names with the Banking Department under Banking Law §§591(1) and 591-a(1). All business addresses, including URL’s, used by a mortgage banker and a mortgage broker must be reported to the Banking Department. This is an important requirement that enables us to properly supervise and monitor mortgage banker and broker activities. For the purposes of Article 12-D of the Banking Law, the domain name of any Web Site used by a licensee/registrant to conduct mortgage banking or brokering activity qualifies as a business address. To afford non-filers the opportunity to comply with these provisions, the Banking Department will not take enforcement action until July 31, 2000. However, after this date, a fine or other action may be imposed for non-compliance.

Reporting is accomplished by letter mailed to the Mortgage Banking Division containing the following information:

  1. name of the licensee/registrant;
  2. internet address being registered; and
  3. the address of the licensed branch or main office from which the Web Site will be controlled and/or serviced.

Certified or registered mail is not required, but good business practice dictates that the licensee/registrant should maintain proof of filing.

Please also note that a licensee/registrant may record multiple Internet addresses. A separate branch license to operate a Web Site is not required where personnel interacting with visitors and customers of the Web Site are located on the premises of a licensed branch and the range of their activities is within the scope of the branch license. There is no fee to record an Internet address with the Department.

Should you have any questions regarding any of the topics discussed above, please do not hesitate to contact Principal Examiner II Mildred Freel-Mackin at (212) 618-6688.

Very truly yours,

Richard L. Ehli
Deputy Superintendent
Mortgage Banking Division