Your Better Business Bureau warns that U.S. Local Business Association or USLBA is now using the name U.S. Commerce Association or USCA to distribute vanity awards in the state.
Vanity awards prey on a business' desire to look good. "Best of Local Business" Awards – which are believed to be mass-distributed – entice recipients to purchase plaques. The business usually receives an e-mail that begins: "I am pleased to announce that <BUSINESS NAME> has been selected for the 2009 Best of <CITY> Award in the <BUSINESS TYPE> category by the US Commerce Association."
BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has identified that multiple businesses in a city are sometimes given the same award within the same category; the categories can also be so specific that only a few businesses would qualify for the award.
While the awards often look locally distributed, U.S. Commerce Association is based in Washington, D.C. and has BBB's lowest rating, an "F". Click for BBB's Reliability Report.
Your BBB advises the following when checking the validity of an award:
- Get a BBB Reliability Report at www.bbb.org on the business or organization distributing the award.
- Look at the title and category of the award. If you don't recognize the award or it seems like an overly specific category that only a small number of businesses could receive, it might be a vanity award.
- Check to see if there are any fees associated with winning the award. If there is a fee for winning or for receiving a certificate or plaque it could be a scam.
- If the announcement for the award leads to a Web site, do not enter any personal information on that site unless you are positive of the award’s validity.
- Ask questions. Businesses and organizations that offer legitimate awards will usually be willing to provide detailed information on why a specific company received the award.
See BBB's previous press release on USLBA.
About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at www.bbb.org.