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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: “Best of …” lists may be business scam

Veronica Craker

There’s a new trend with lists honoring the “Best Small Towns,” “Best Place for Happy Hour” and even “Best Cup of Coffee.” Some of these “best of” lists even send prizes to the destination or business getting the award people and businesses who do exemplarity work in the area.

Unfortunately, even fun competitions such as these have attracted scammers hoping to profit from businesses wanting to claim the “Best of” title. In the past few months the Better Business Bureau has received multiple reports from organizations across the country stating they received a suspicious email claiming they won top billing. But in order to claim their prize they were asked to pay up. Fortunately, the email recipients were smart to report the email —as there is no such award.

In less than a month BBB Scam Tracker received 24 reports from potential victims in the Northwest. Some of the reports claim they were asked to pay anywhere from $149 to $229 to claim the honor and receive a personalized plaque. One of these scam emails even had a Seattle, Washington address as its place of business. However our investigators believe that is likely false information meant to deceive email recipients.

The company names attached to these emails include: The Award Program, Business Recognition and Award Connections. So if you get an email from any of these businesses, be skeptical.

To avoid being taken in by these con artists BBB recommends the following tips:

    Ask questions. 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. Businesses and organizations that offer legitimate awards will usually be willing to provide detailed information on why a specific company received the award.

    Know the nomination process. Find out who nominated your business for the award. If you didn’t apply for it or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not legitimate.

    Don’t pay. Most legitimate awards do not come with costs to the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it closely. If there is a fee for winning or for receiving a certificate or plaque it could be a scam.

    Do your research. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org to ensure the offer is legit. Many of the business owners who reported the scam to BBB did their own investigating and found we’ve reported on this scam in the past.

Companies that have fallen victim to these or other scams are encouraged to report their experience to Better Business Bureau at 206-431-2222 or at bbb.org.

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