Pensacola, Fla. (October 21, 2014) – Better Business Bureau serving Northwest Florida is warning businesses about the US Institute for Advancement of Trade and Commerce (USIATC), an organization claiming local businesses are recipients of a “Florida Excellence Award”, and offering an opportunity to buy one or more awards to mark the honor.A local BBB Accredited Business, Gilmore Services, received an email from USIATC and brought the “award” to BBB’s attention. The email advises the business that further details on the selection process can be viewed at www.USIATC.org, and includes a reference code and a press release that was produced for the occasion. The business then has an option to purchase the press release and the award with packages ranging from $97.00 to $588.00.BBB found www.USIATC.org was created in spring of this year and is registered to US Commerce located in Arlington, VA with a phone number of 703-348-3499. The same phone number also belongs to a company under the name of US Trade & Commerce Institute (USTCI). According to BBB files, USTCI is believed to be out of business.“From what we can find, this is a money-making scheme and the award does not have any actual merit,” said Norman Wright, president and CEO of BBB serving Northwest Florida. “If you are approached about receiving a business award, research the opportunity carefully and be cautious if asked to pay money”.BBB offers several tips to avoid losing money to a vanity award program:Learn everything you can about who is giving the award. If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are they simply want your money. If you didn’t apply for an award or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not legitimate.Ask specific questions about how your company or organization was chosen for an award and find out how many similar awards are given each year.Most legitimate awards do not come with costs for the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it even more closely.Beware of names that might sound familiar, but are not the same as a well-known organization.Check BBB Business Reviews by going to bbb.org to see what information is known about the business.For additional information and advice you can trust as a business owner, start with bbb.org.