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“Vanity awards” ask for a fee to claim a prize – New England Business Leaders Targeted

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  It’s always an ego boost to receive a notice that you or your company has won an award. The Better Business Bureau reminds you that if that award requires you to pay a fee to “claim” it, make sure you check out all the details before sending money.

  While there are many legitimate and competitive awards out there (even ones that are unfamiliar to you), there are also a lot of “vanity awards.” These are available in virtually every industry and for every profession. For some, you fill out a form and pay a fee to enter the ‘competition.’ With others, you are notified that you’ve won and directed to a place where you can order plaques or trophies. These awards may sound good, but many are not particularly prestigious. The more winners there are, the less respected the award becomes.

  Trusted, hardworking businesses and business owners deserve recognition, but not the kind you have to pay for. However, this is the premise of vanity award scams. 

What is a vanity award scheme?

  This scheme typically targets business owners through email campaigns. The email will congratulate the owner on his or her selection for the Best of [insert city name] Award and invite the contact to follow a link to a website listing further details on how to claim the prize.

  Among the instructions on how to claim the honor and receive a plaque or trophy, a one-time fee will be listed, ranging from $100 to $200, sometimes with higher amounts if the owner would like a larger trophy or plaque.

BBB recommends the following tips before paying to receive an award:

  • Research the award. Check out the company’s BBB Business Profile at BBB.org to ensure that the offer is legitimate.
  • Ask specific questions. Learn everything you can about who is giving the award, where they are located, how long the award has been in existence and how your business was selected as a winner. Organizations that offer legitimate awards will be willing to provide specific details on why your company was chosen.
  • Know the nomination process. Find out who nominated your business for the award. If you didn’t apply for it or the organization cannot tell you how you were nominated,
    chances are the award is not legitimate.
  • Check for payment requirements. Most legitimate awards do not come with costs to the recipient. If there is a fee, scrutinize it closely. If there is a fee for winning or for receiving a certificate or plaque, it could be a scheme simply after your money.

For more information

  The sole intent of a vanity award scheme is to capitalize on a company’s excitement for an award that essentially holds no value with the purpose of making money on the offer. To report a vanity award scheme, visit BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/scamtracker.

  For more tips to help you as a business owner, visit BBB’s Business Resources page and BBB’s Business HQ. Also, read about the top 10 scams targeting small businesses.

  Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails

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