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Help Wanted: Finding a Government Job While Avoiding Scams

Help Wanted: Finding a Government Job While Avoiding Scams

Federal Trade Comission

Protecting Yourself

Before you spend any money responding to job ads or completing job placement contracts, the FTC suggests that you:

  • Be suspicious of any employment-service firm that promises to get you a job.

  • Be skeptical of any employment-service firm that charges up-front fees, even if it guarantees refunds to dissatisfied customers.

  • Don’t give out your credit card or bank account information on the phone unless you’re familiar with the company and agree to pay for something. Anyone who has your account information can use it to commit financial fraud against you.

  • Get a copy of the firm’s contract and review it carefully before you pay any money. Understand the terms and conditions of the firm’s refund policy. Make sure you understand what services will be provided by the firm and what you’ll be responsible for. If oral promises are made that don’t also appear in the contract, think twice about doing business with the firm.

  • Take your time reviewing the contract. Don’t be rushed into paying for services. Avoid high-pressure sales pitches that require you to pay now or risk losing out on the opportunity.

  • Be cautious about purchasing from a firm that’s reluctant to answer your questions or gives you evasive answers.

  • Be aware that some listing services and “consultants” may place ads that seem to offer jobs when, in fact, they’re selling employment information.

  • Follow up with the offices of any company or organization listed in an ad by an employment service, to find out if the company’s really hiring.

  • Be wary of firms promoting “previously undisclosed” federal government jobs. All federal positions are announced to the public.

  • Check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General’s Office, and the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed about a company with which you intend to do business.

In addition, federal law prohibits the use of a toll-free number for pay-per-call 900-number services. This means that anyone calling a toll-free number cannot be charged simply for completing the call, and that a toll-free number call cannot be transferred, or connected to, a pay-per-call 900-number service. Federal law also prohibits any telephone message that solicits calls to a pay-per-call 900-number service from failing to disclose the cost of the call.

For More Information

A variety of free and low-cost resources are available to help you in your job search.

  • Job Service offices post vacancies and offer counseling and referrals to other job resources.

  • Local and county human resources offices provide some placement assistance. They can give you the names of other groups that may be helpful, such as labor unions or federally-funded vocational programs.

  • University, college and community college career service offices usually limit their help to students and alumni, but some may let you look at their current job listings.

  • Local libraries can direct you to information on writing a resume, interviewing, or compiling a list of companies and organizations to contact about job openings.

  • The Internet, through major online services and electronic bulletin boards, has information and options to help you, including classified ads and resume postings.

Government Scams and Myths

Identity Theft
Stay Informed, Stay Smart

Where to Complain

If you have a problem with an employment-service firm, contact your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, the appropriate state licensing board, or your state Attorney General.

If you have problems with charges on your phone bill for 900-number calls to fraudulent businesses, contact your telephone company immediately. No phone company is obligated to delete the charges, but you should ask. Call your carrier or the Federal Communications Commission for policy information.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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