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. 

Tierra Rika Nakamura – Iolani

In order to prevent ourselves, as well as our family and friends, from being more susceptible to online scams, it is essential to understand how to identify organizations that we can trust.

One of the primary factors to consider when deciding whether to trust a company is its credibility, which can be verified through online research. The business being well-known could be a good indication that it is trustworthy; this can be determined by a simple search of its name. Despite this, according to the 2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, there is still the possibility of being scammed by an imitation of an organization that is familiar to many people. Companies often impersonated for scams include the Social Security Administration, Publishers Clearing House, and Microsoft. Although it may be tempting to immediately trust businesses that are widely known, it is important to continue to be wary. In order to account for both situations, the most viable action to take is to also search “scam” along with the company name. Another option would be to read the description—often detailing patterns following that business—that bbb.org provides.

In addition to external research, it is important to scrutinize the actual website of the company as well. Based on an article by Michael R. Lewis, an experienced retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and financial advisor, there are multiple aspects one can look out for: contact information, style, policy pages, content, and payment methods. One of the signals for an illegitimate or impersonated organization is the lack of a telephone number or address. Even if the website lists seemingly trustworthy contact information, it may not actually be authentic. If in doubt, the consumer should call the phone number or, if necessary, visit the institution in person. Another technique to better navigate the internet is noting the phraseology. If the website appears unprofessional—whether due to an abundance of spelling errors or emphasis (through usage of many exclamation marks and words that are all capital letters)—it is crucial to question whether the organization is trustworthy or if it had been hastily formed. Furthermore, websites for trustworthy companies often have policy pages; if still unsure whether to trust the organization, verify if the policy pages exist—and if so, read the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy.

The content itself can also help one decide whether to trust the business or not. Many fraud websites have little to no photos of such components as the company building and employees; rather, they mainly include counterfeit logos and photos of their supposed products. In addition, it would be sensible to identify the method of paying. Trustworthy online businesses usually utilize “secondary electronic payment providers” such as Paypal and offer reimbursements if the transaction somehow fails. In contrast, illegitimate ones may only allow for payments through checks or cash and may request buyers to provide overly personal information.

Although we may not always be able to prevent scams from occurring, it is important to be aware and to take caution.

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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/.