BBB Serving Western Virginia has received a report of a "vanity email" sent to businesses throughout western Virginia. An email was forwarded to our office that had been sent to an Accredited Business. It contained the subject line "Notification" and states that the business has been chosen for the "2018 Best of Roanoke Awards.” Because the links in this message may be malicious and fraudulent, BBB advises any business that receives these e-mails to take the following steps:
Do not click on any links and do not reply to the message;
Completely delete the message from your inbox; and
Run a full virus scan on your computer if you clicked on any links.
It’s always an ego boost to receive a notice that you or your company has won an award. BBB reminds you that if the 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 many “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.
Check out our BBB tips to avoid being the victim of a scam related to vanity awards.
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, it could be a red flag. Look up the company's BBB Business Profile at www.bbb.org to view their BBB rating and see if the company has complaints or 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.
You may also contact us directly with questions at (540) 343-1177, (800) 851-6869 or by emailing me directly at
Thank you for taking this under advisement.