People can vote for as many essays as they choose, but only get one vote per essay. Students are encouraged to share their essay with friends and family or on social media to generate more votes. Only votes from the scholarship website will be considered. Only one essay per state will be chosen to receive the $2,000 scholarship. 

Elena Konev – Mat-Su Middle College School

The fact that consumers 18-24 years old are the most susceptible to falling victim to scams may seem surprising on the surface, considering the general proficiency the age group has in technology. However, when you think about everything taking place online now, including charity donations, job applications, and increasing online relationships, the necessity of wising up about scams, especially online scams, cannot be ignored. 18-24 year olds feel more comfortable on the Internet, thus making them even more likely to fall for scams. Knowing this information, we need to educate ourselves about scams and how to protect ourselves.

The most important part of protecting yourself from scams online is to do your research. If you are submitting an online application for a job, confirm that the company is legitimate. This also applies to donating to charities and to buying merchandise online. If you have never heard of the company/brand/charity before, be cautious. When you look it up online, check for a professional website rather than an unofficial Facebook page. Watch for spelling errors. In the case of a company, search for reviews on Glassdoor to see if people have actually worked there before. Determine whether the organization has been engaging in the activities and projects they claim they do. You can also check if businesses are Better Business Bureau approved, or, on the opposite side, if they have been identified as a scam before.

Another online scam to be cautious of is of scammers pretending to be someone they are not to receive money. This is very important for the latest generation of Internet surfers, for whom it is common to have multitudes of online friends. While these relationships are rarely deceitful, you need to be aware that you may come across a scammer who will befriend you and then request a large amount of money. To protect yourself from this kind of scam, review your online friendships. If you have a friend you talk to online who shies away from meeting up in public, or even just for a Facetime call, chances are they are not who they say they are. Also be wary of people you just met who ask you for money. In those cases the best way to continue is to end the online relationship with that person, especially if they are insistent.

The last method is probably the most important for this generation, and it is not to overestimate your confidence with the Internet. While we may have a lot of experience, the comfort we feel on the Internet leads us to a sense of false awareness that makes us fall victim to online scams. Remember to always research a company before giving them personal or financial details and confirm they are authentic. Keep these tips in mind, and if you ever fall victim to a scam, be sure to report it to the BBB so others can stay aware.

About BBB Northwest + Pacific Torch Talk

Torch Talk is an online and printed resource for both consumer and business news. It serves as a tool for businesses and consumers to learn more about the latest news and scam alerts, helpful business tips, BBB events and programs, and more. For more information or to subscribe, visit trust-bbb.org/torchtalk/.