2011-03-25 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Job Hunting Scams
Commentary By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer


AUDREY PHEFFER AUDREY PHEFFER Over the past few years, as our economy faltered, thousands of workers lost their jobs. Many of those who were let go are still struggling to find work. If you are looking for a job, you should be aware that some fraudulent individuals have set their sights on the unemployed. Before you scan the classified section of your newspaper or surf the Internet for job listings, keep the following tips in mind so that you can avoid job hunting scams.

How would you like to hire an employment service that guarantees it will find you a job? What if a service could provide you with the ability to obtain access to listings of unadvertised jobs? These sales pitches sound great, but be wary. Legitimate employment services do not offer absolute guarantees of success, and while some services may share positions that are not widely publicized, those that claim to have exclusive access to numerous secret listings may be stretching the truth, or worse, be completely bogus. In addition to companies that make overthe top claims, be on the lookout for employment services that supply outdated or false job listings to customers. If you have any suspicion about a job listing provided by an employment service, you should check to see that the company supposedly offering the job is actually hiring by contacting them directly.

You should also be skeptical of companies that require upfront payment, even if they claim to offer a refund. Before paying for any services, be sure to read the contract and fully understand the refund policy. You should be wary of companies that make promises in their advertising or sales presentation that do not appear in the contract or that engage in high-pressure sales tactics. You should also avoid any employment service whose salespersons are reluctant to answer your questions. It is a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau and the New York State Attorney General’s Office to see if complaints have been filed against the employment service you are considering. In addition to taking the above precautions, job seekers should keep abreast of the latest employment service scams so that they know which offers to avoid. It has been reported that there are numerous disreputable companies claiming that they can help people find unadvertised or unannounced jobs with the federal government, including Postal Service jobs. These companies often offer customers the opportunity to purchase study materials that allegedly guarantee that the customers will receive a high score on employment examinations. In many instances, the jobs mentioned in the service’s advertisements do not exist or do not require applicants to take a civil service exam. Information about federal employment opportunities, including job listings, can be found at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s website at http://www.usajobs.gov/. You can view Postal Service job openings at: http://www.usps.com/ employment/.

Another popular scam is centered around the claim that people can earn money by mailing circulars from their home. Those who respond to advertisements promoting these envelope stuffing schemes often find that a hefty upfront fee is charged and workers are required to pay for the supplies.

In addition, those that sign up for these programs eventually find out that the only way to earn money is to convince others to buy into the scheme.

To keep up-to-date on the latest job hunting scams and learn more about how to protect yourself, you may wish to visit the New York State Attorney General’s Office website at http://www.ag.ny.gov/ or the Federal Trade Commission’s website at: http://www.ftc.gov/.

If you suspect that you are a victim of an employment scam, you may contact these agencies to file a complaint.

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