On Your Side Alert: Warning about award email - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

On Your Side Alert: Warning about award email

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Receiving an award sounds great but the Better Business Bureau is warning about one award that could end up costing you hundreds of dollars.  The organization says emails are circulating informing business owners they've been selected as a winner of the "Virginia Excellence Award." 

The email looks and sounds official. The pitch -- you're the recipient of what it calls the "Virginia Excellence Award." The Better Business says you shouldn't respond.

Tom Gallagher with the Richmond Better Business Bureau says what the email doesn't tell you is that you have to pay for this so-called award -- in some cases, over $300. "You know who is paying for that? The awardee," Gallagher said. "There is nothing wrong if you want to do these things, but just realize you are the only person who is going to be paying for that. It's a value to you and maybe your mom." 

The website for the U.S. Institute for Excellence in Commerce -- the company behind the award -- is still under construction. The company's phone number is disconnected.  "It's up to us to protect ourselves. Read it, know what the things is, back-check on the organization, go to BBB.org or use one of the other sources just to double check to be sure that this really could be something, and wouldn't end up costing you a lot of money for nothing," Gallagher said. 

The BBB says its not aware of any legitimate Virginia Excellence Award and if there is one, you should not have to pay for it. "You are going to get what you are paying for, but if you are expecting this to mean something really big or important for you, that is going to help you along in your career, I am not saying that it couldn't but I am just saying, think about that long and hard," Gallagher said.

It's your money, but using a little research could mean it won't be wasted. The BBB also says consumers need to be aware that the company may use different names.

To distinguish a reputable award from those of little to no value, BBB offers these tips:

  • Ask questions. How are businesses nominated for the award or for the publication? For a publication, who subscribes to it and how many volumes have been published in past years? A recognized award organization or reputable publisher will be willing to provide details.
  • In the case of a publication, check with your local library. A public library will stock well-known and useful general biographical directories and can advise you about its knowledge of the volume in question. Also, the reputation of professional and business directories may be checked with relevant trade associations.
  • Check out the business offering the award or the publication at bbb.org.

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