Vanity award scams are everywhere and they prey on people and businesses that might not know any better. If you get this type of email or message, we encourage you to use caution. Below we share a couple examples as well as tips on how to spot vanity award scams.
The end of the year is prime time for the vanity award scams to start coming out as well as pay-to-play press and publication features.
The end of the year is the perfect time because we are all wrapping up and thinking about moving into the following year. Getting an opportunity for an award or press feature is really exciting.
Don’t get duped by a vanity awards scammer.
Have you recently received an email or PM on social media that mentions that “Your business has won an award”, but then asks you for a fee for your award?
At first, you might get a little excited because they are playing on your ego and desire to run a good business, but then you realize that something does not feel right.
Your spidy senses are tingling, but you are not sure why. We are here to reassure you that you should always follow your intuition. It’s better to be safe then sorry.
What are business vanity award scams?
Business vanity award scams are a type of fraud in which companies or individuals are tricked into paying for fake awards or recognition that have no real value.
These scams often involve unsolicited emails or phone calls from award organizers who claim to be representing a reputable organization or magazine.
They may offer to honor the recipient with an award, such as a “Business Leader of the Year” award or a “Top CEO” award, in exchange for a fee.
However, these awards are often meaningless and have no real value or recognition within the industry.
Examples of scam awards.
What is the purpose of vanity award scams?
They are simply a way for the scammers to make money by tricking people into paying for something that is essentially meaningless.
Some business vanity award scams may also involve the sale of plaques, certificates or other items related to the award.
This can further add to the cost of the scam and take even further advantage of a business that might not understand they are being duped.
5 tips to avoid vanity business scams.
- Research: Research the award and the organization offering it. Look for information about the award on the organization’s website and do a quick online search to see if the award is legitimate. Check to see if the organization is a registered business or non-profit and if it has any accreditations or certifications.
- Be Cautious: Be cautious of awards that are not transparent about the criteria or selection process used to determine the winners.
- Don’t Be Impressed: Don’t be swayed by impressive-sounding titles or logos. Just because an award has a fancy name or logo doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.
- Use Trusted Sources: Get recommendations from trusted sources. If you’re considering applying for an award, ask colleagues or industry associations if they have any experience with the award or the organization offering it.
- Ask Question: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have any doubts or concerns about an award or organization, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. A legitimate organization should be willing to provide information about the award and the selection process.
Few have serious merit – some do.
Just a quick note that pay-to-play awards are typically scams as well. There are a couple out there in various industries that are in fact serious and have merit that ask for a fee to submit to, however, it is not the typical.
The award provider that is typically legitimate will ask for an upfront fee to enter. For example, Entreprenista is holding an inaugural awards celebrating trailblazing women in business who are changing the world. To enter and tell your story, they ask for a fee and the award is also in partnership and is presented by Chase Bank (In). This is an example of a legitimate award.
Example vanity scam award.
Below again, is another image of some random place that is offering awards for a fee. The first sign that this is a scam is that they offer you an award out of nowhere and to get it you need to pay them first. Big red flag.
These are types of email and messages that you should avoid. Also, when looking them up, their website looks like it was right out of the 90’s. Unlike the other publication website above that I mentioned that looks pretty legitimate – this one failed that test.
But their website has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) Logo or another legitimate logo.
Many scam websites put up logos that are not authorized to use. This is similar to when we see those “As seen on Fox, NBC..” on websites which are also not legitimate most times.
If you notice that a website has a logo, for example the Better Business Bueau (report scam to the BBB) or the US Chamber of Commerce, you can contact those organizations to find out the legitimacy of the company using them.
It is easy to just slap on a logo of an organization, press or publication, award, etc and it not actually be really or authentic.
In conclusion, it’s important to avoid business vanity award scams for a number of reasons. By avoiding business vanity award scams, you can focus on building a reputable and successful business without being misled or taken advantage of.