Fraud Alert for Businesses: Don't Pay for an Award from an Unfamiliar Company
Scam artists continue to move forward, even during concerns about coronavirus
Thursday, March 12th, 2020 – The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is urging businesses to be wary of emails informing them they’ve won an award from a company they haven’t heard of, and that doesn’t come with any recognition beyond a display item that they need to pay for. Additional red flags that an award may not be legitimate are: you don’t see your name on a list of award recipients online, and there’s no press announcement.
In some professions, it can be common for you to pay for a plaque for an award you apply for (if you win), or for some publications to offer you a framed article for a cost. However, it’s uncommon, and suspect, to get an offer out of nowhere for an award you have to pay for, without an invitation to an event or ceremony, and without any recognition of other winners.
If you receive an email offering you an award for money, look for these signs that it may not be legitimate:
- The email isn’t well put together, uses images that look like they were designed quickly, and has long, disorganized links to a website.
- It’s almost too personalized. It has pictures of awards with your business name photo-shopped in, a link personalized for you, and a website specific to your business type.
- You can’t search for the organization. If an organization says they’re giving you an award, you should be able to search online for past recipients or events that the organization has held.
- They claim to have connections. Some organizations will list award winners from other parts of the country. In particular, they will mention large companies that are easily recognizable – and have logos that are easy for them to access. If you run an independent search for organizations they advertise as having won an award and the title of their award, it shouldn’t be challenging to find official announcements or information.
- They have a vague, but reputable sounding name. Names like “Hartford Business Recognition” are similar to the names of reputable organizations and businesses. Businesses that do this almost never have the name of a real person, or appropriate contact information attached to their emails – just links you can click on to purchase their products.
A picture of a recent email that we received complaints about can be seen below:
“Too many entities try to take advantage of small businesses by selling them products they don’t really need,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “Offers to purchase awards absent of any other recognition is something that businesses should be suspicious of. We want to do everything we can to make sure businesses in our state have the resources to thrive and encourage anyone who receives suspicious communication to contact our office.”
Officials issued this warning to businesses about offers they receive to purchase a “certificate of legal existence” which is not required by law, but is another way scammers try to cheat our businesses.
Department of Consumer Protection
Lora Rae Anderson
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 247-8711 (cell)