Small Business Award Scam

Some San Diego business owners have received emails from the U.S. Commerce Association regarding an award for “Best of San Diego” awards. Beware, these awards are a money-making ploy that offer little cache.
In fact, The Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges business owners to use caution when dealing with the U.S. Commerce Association or a related group called the U.S. Local Business Association. And the Washington, D. C. BBB office gave the U.S. Local Business Association an “F” grade. They warn business owners to be sure the recognition is not an attempt to obtain access to a company’s information or to elicit funds by an entity that may not be what it represents itself as being.

Other than the content on their website, there is not much known about the U.S. Commerce Association.

Here at the SBDITC we found a great BBB article with several tips to avoid losing money in a “vanity award” program:

  • Learn everything you can about who is giving the award. If it is coming from a mystery company, chances are it simply wants your money.
  • If you didn’t apply for an award or the group cannot tell you how you were nominated, chances are the award is not legitimate.
  • Most legitimate awards do not come with costs for the recipient. If there is a cost, scrutinize it even more closely.
  • Ask specific questions about how your company or organization was chosen for an award and find out how many similar awards are given each year.
  • Check BBB reliability reports at or by calling 509-455-4200 or 800-356-1007.

If you receive a message that you are not sure how to interpret, go ahead and give us a call at the Small Business Development Center and Center for International Trade Development .We can schedule an appointment for you to meet with one of our small business advisors to discuss the legitimacy. We are available to make appointments Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Have you been contacted by this group or a similar one? Share your warnings in the comments section below.


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