Attorney General Roy Cooper: Some professional awards offer praise, for a price

It’s always nice to be honored with an award, but sometimes there’s a catch. In the case of recent messages sent to many employees—including some here in the Attorney General’s Office–the catch is that you have to pay for that recognition.

Many of these awards for a fee use generic-sounding names and target small businesses, while others focus on specific industries or groups such as legal professionals, nonprofit managers or women in business. You may be told that the award will mean you’ll be listed in a special professional directory or a “Best of” list of local businesses.

One such email sent to our office claimed, “This is a fantastic opportunity for North Carolina Department of Justice to publicize your great work…” to the tune of $349 for the cheapest package (including a personalized crystal trophy) up to $4,799 for the Diamond Package (including the trophy plus a cover image and a 4-page spread in an online publication).


  • If you get an email, fax or mailing saying you or your place of work has been nominated for an award you’ve never heard of, be skeptical.
  • If you’re considering responding, first ask who is giving the award, how you were nominated, and what the costs are.
  • Think long and hard before agreeing to pay for an award. In most cases, what you’ll get isn’t worth what you’d pay for it. 
  • It isn’t against the law to pay for or publicize questionable awards, so consumers should also ask questions before assuming that a business that claims to be award-winning actually deserves that title.
  • If you believe you’ve been misled about paying for an award, you can let our office know by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free in NC or by filing a complaint online at