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. 

Kelsey Victoria Gosch – Billings West High School

For a donor, evaluating a charity or a company can be a major task involving many hours of research and diligence. Unfortunately, scammers have been able to deceive many people for years in believing that they are a real charity that deserves money. By using websites like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance or the IRS nonprofits charity database, the public is able to use resources to learn if a charity is reputable or not. The BBB continuously keeps track of complaints against a charity to make sure that they are held accountable for their actions. While the IRS makes sure it is an actual charity. By using a combination of these sources, the donor can determine whether the charity is a good fit. Another way to make sure a charity is reliable is to find on their website how much of their finances are going towards that specific cause. By making sure that a charity has been following through with the mission statement that it has provided can be an excellent way to know that the money that was donated is being used for good. A good practice after donating is to continuously check your bank account to confirm that they received the donation and that it is charged for the right amount and only charged once.

For a company, it is especially important to know that if you are buying a big-ticket item like a car that you are not giving away personal information that is crucial to your day to day life to an untrustworthy group. Firstly, by checking the web address or URL, is crucial in determining if the website is credible. Any minor detail including spelling and grammar errors are also important. Legitimate companies have a team that is dedicated to making sure the website is accurate and complete. Seeing an excessive amount of mistakes is a red flag for a scammer’s website. Also by checking websites like the Better Business Bureau helps people find reviews for a company. It clearly lays out real customer reviews and other details about the company. One of the best features on the website is finding lawsuits that were placed against the company which helps the customer determine if they should shop at this business.

Being cautious of the scams online can help avoid other legal troubles like identity fraud or stolen credit card numbers. Scams target all races, ages, and backgrounds and everyone is susceptible to falling for one. A good rule of thumb for determining if it is a scam or not is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. By doing research of the charity or of the company that you are dealing with, you stand a higher chance of all of your personal data being secure and receive peace of mind that your money has been used for good.

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/.