Did you receive an email claiming your small business won a prestigious award? Here are some tips to distinguish between legitimate industry recognition and what may amount to a little more than puffery.
By Better Business Bureau® Serving Greater Cleveland
Trustworthy businesses deserve recognition, but it should not be the kind they have to pay for. Corporate vanity awards are exactly that and they exist for every industry and profession. Typically, companies are contacted by phone or mail and alerted that they have won a prestigious award or an entry to a competition, but first, they have to fill out a form and pay a fee. These awards may sound good, but in many cases, they are simply a drain on small business owners’ finances.
Recently, two area businesses contacted Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) Serving Greater Cleveland regarding emails they received from a company named “Business Recognition.” In these emails, businesses are told they are being contacted on behalf of the Cleveland Award Program. Sometimes these emails substitute “Cleveland” with another local city. The recipient is then told they have been “selected as the winner” in their industry. They are directed to contact the award staff through their website. Here, the company is then advised it will cost $149 for the award plaque.
Business Recognition currently has an F-rating from BBB due to concerns with the business’s practices and its inability to be transparent about its ownership, location, and services. BBB attempted to contact Business Recognition via mail and email. BBB received returned mail from their Seattle, Washington, address indicating “Box Closed” and emails were not answered. BBB staff also noted the company appears to have multiple websites using various addresses to give the site a local identity. Additionally, BBB could not locate any business registration, business license, or business ownership information but found its website was registered on September 4, 2015, by Chris Bernard in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Did your business receive an email claiming your small business won a prestigious award? Here are some tips to distinguish between legitimate industry recognition and what may amount to a little more than puffery.
- 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 existed, and how your business was selected as a winner. Organizations that offer legitimate awards will be willing to provide specific details on why they chose your company.
- 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 receiving a certificate or plaque, it could be that the person or organization is simply after your money.
- Be wary about clicking on links in emails from strangers. Scammers often hide malware in email links. If you click on one of these links, scammers can gain access to personal information stored on your device. Double-check you’re dealing with a real business before clicking on a link.