Media contact: Janet C. Hart, APR, CFEE (704) 927-8617 office
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) – Over the next two weeks, thousands of students in our area will graduate from high school.
In addition to receiving a diploma, graduates may also get an email informing them that they have been selected for a ‘Who’s Who’ directory.
Many parents actively seek to have their high school age children included in 'Who’s Who' directories because they think that it may help their child get accepted to college.
“What sounds like a great honor, is really just mass marketing,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy.
The BBB classifies these directories as ‘vanity publications’. “The majority of these ‘Who’s Who’ directories are not legitimate,” said Bartholomy.
“The goal is not necessarily to showcase your child; it is to get you to spend hundreds of dollars on the directory and commemorative plaque.”
Here’s how it works:
- An invitation in the form of an email notification is sent to millions of prospective ‘Who’s Who’ candidates.
- If you are interested, you click on a link and provide some basic information to see if you ‘qualify’ for inclusion.
- After being told that you qualify, you will be asked for much more personal information including address and birth date.
- Then, you will be contacted by a telemarketing representative about purchasing the ‘Who’s Who’ membership, the directory in which you will be included, a commemorative plaque and other ‘honorary’ items.
- “You will be told that inclusion in the directory is free, but it may not turn out to be free,” said Bartholomy. “These companies will likely try to sell you memberships and packages that cost hundreds of dollars.”
- If you agree to purchase the directory or membership, you must pay by credit card over the telephone. If you do not agree to the purchase, you will likely not be included in the directory, if a directory is even published.
Here are the facts:
- The majority of these yearbooks or directories cannot be found in bookstores or public libraries.
- Many of these operations are not based in the United States which is evident by the language used in the emails or letters.
- You will be asked for a substantial amount of personal information which could lead to identity theft.
- You will be asked for your credit card number which could lead to unauthorized charges.
However, there are a few companies that do publish the directories, but inclusion in the book is based on purchasing a membership or a package, not necessarily on specific selection criteria.
BBB advice: If you receive an email about inclusion in a ‘Who’s Who’ directory, do not click on any links because you could download viruses onto your computer. The best advice is to delete the email.
“You may or may not be dealing with a legitimate publisher,” said Bartholomy. “It’s more likely to be a phishing scam disguised as an award.”