Businesses beware of vanity awards

Your Better Business Bureau warns that the U.S. Local Business Association might be misleading businesses who receive their awards.

U.S. Local Business Association also known as USLBA is contacting businesses to award them a “Best of Local Business” Award. The BBB believes this association might be honoring businesses with the goal of getting the winners to purchase plaques.

The awards often look as though they may be local. They are called “Best of” and then the city the business is located in. For example: Best of Seattle, Best of Tacoma, Best of Olympia, etc. The U.S. Local Business Association is actually based in Washington, D.C. and has an unsatisfactory rating with their local BBB.

The awards are broken into business-type categories. Your Better Business Bureau 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.

These awards are an example of a vanity scam.

They prey on a company’s desire to look good.

“Winning an award is exciting for any business, especially when they want to have a competitive edge over their competition,” Robert Andrew, CEO of the BBB of Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington said. “However, vanity schemes only honor businesses to get money from them.”

Businesses usually are notified of the award through an e-mail. They are directed to Web page which tells them how to order a plaque, but that page does not provide cost information.

The names of the Best of Local Business awards are very similar and sometimes identical to the names of legitimate awards given by separate businesses and organizations that are not affiliated with the U.S. Local Business Association.

According to an e-mail from the U.S. Local Business Association, the selection committee chair said, “I cannot go into the specifics of the data we use in our selection process. We have non-disclosure agreements with the companies that provide us the data.” The e-mail also said that revenue generated through the Award Program helps pay for “operational support, marketing and partnership programs for local businesses across America.”

Your Better Business Bureau advises the following when checking the validity of an award:

Visit to find a Reliability Report on the business or organization distributing the award.

Check out the business or organization with the Federal Trade Commission.

Look at the title and category of the award. If the award is something only a small number of businesses could receive, it could 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 Web site unless you are positive of the award’s validity.

Feel free to ask questions. Businesses and organizations providing legitimate awards will usually be willing to provide detailed information on why a specific company received the award.

Consumers and businesses who have a complaint or inquiry about U.S. Local Business Association can visit

About your BBB

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 or 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at