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 you’ve never heard of), 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 are not particularly prestigious. The more winners there are, the less respected the award becomes.
Here are some specific things you should do before paying to receive an award:
Research the company. If there is no address or phone number on the materials about the award, be wary. Check out the information provided to make sure it is legitimate. If the website seems very generic, that could be a red flag. Look up the company's BBB Business Profile at bbb.org to see if there have been previous complaints or bad reviews.
Ask specific questions. Learn everything you can about who is giving the award, how long it's 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. Ask how many awards are given and how businesses are nominated. Find out specifically who nominated your business. 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 significant costs to the recipient. If there is a fee, scrutinize it closely as it could be a scheme after your money. Some legitimate awards may have an entry fee to cover administrative costs, but the winners don’t have to pay extra for the actual plaque or trophy.
Be careful on the web. If the announcement for the award leads to a website, do not enter any personal information on that site unless you are positive of the company’s legitimacy and the award’s validity.
If you are the victim of a scam related to a vanity award, you can go to BBB.org/scamtracker to file a scam report.
Last Reviewed: August 18, 2017