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. 

Josie Rose Matous – Coeur d’Alene Highschool

In today’s world, thousands of online companies are started up each day, and just as many seem to disappear. While the excitement of new websites and products can draw customers in, many find it hard to defer credible businesses and charities from the not so trustworthy ones. It is hard to believe that not everything seen on the internet is true and trustworthy, but there are ways to check the credibility of a website.

A good place to start when determining whether or not to plug in that precious sixteen digit code on your card can be left up to common sense. Yes, this might seem obvious, but there are some specific red flags to watch for when browsing a website. To start, keep an eye out for pop-ups and in-your-face advertising. Not only is this unprofessional marketing, but it could also be a virus waiting to happen.

If the website passes the professionalism test, it is time to move on to the second check. One of the biggest fears when using a new website is the question of how safe your information is. A red flag to look out for when using a new website is a secure method of payment. Before you invest or donate your hard-earned money check to make sure the method of payment is secure and legitimate. Be wary of those asking for payment through mailed cash or check because most reliable websites will have a secured mode of payment available.

Finally, the safest bet for checking an organization is to do a search through the BBB or Better Business Bureau. The BBB is a nonprofit organization that is reputable in checking businesses for ethical selling and advertising practices. They will also give information and reviews on the company before you decide to donate or go into business with them. Simply check either the national or statewide BBB website and type in the business you plan on dealing with. You should get a report along with reviews if a company has been certified by the BBB. This is the most trustworthy way to evaluate a company.

Finding new companies and charities online can be very exciting, but it is important to remember the dangers of giving away personal information. Always check for a professional website with a secure method of payment. Although that is never guaranteed to mean a website or company is reliable. Do a final check with the Better Business Bureau to fully know about the company you are about to deal with. By taking the time to follow these steps you can save yourself from a great deal of trouble and ensure you are dealing with a reliable business.

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/.