If you are looking for a job, you may come across ads for firms that promise employment results. Although many such firms are legitimate and helpful, others may misrepresent their services, promote outdated or fictitious job offerings, or charge high upfront fees for services that may not lead to a job. Some ads may direct you to call a toll-free 800-number. Once you are connected, you may be switched to a pay-per-call 900-number without your knowledge, or you may be asked to call a 900-number without a proper fee disclosure. Both practices violate federal law.
Too many consumers who respond to these ads think they are contacting a bona fide placement service that is seeking candidates to fill specific jobs. Instead, they reach a business that creates the impression that consumers obtain employment through use of its "services." To make matters worse, such businesses typically charge advance fees - ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars - for their services. Sometimes the fees are imposed without consumer approval, or the consumer is led to believe that most or all of the fees ultimately will be refunded, which turns out to be false.
When you are looking for help in finding a job, it is important to understand the differences among employment services. Many terms, such as employment agency, personal placement service, executive search firm, or executive counseling service are used interchangeably. Find out what services a firm offers, how much the services cost and who pays. If you are required to pay the fee, find out what you will owe if the employment service does not find you a job or any employment leads.
Before you send any money responding to job ads or completing job placement contracts, the Better Business Bureau, along with the Federal Trade Commission, suggest that you:
There are a variety of free and low-cost resources available to help you in your job search, including local and state government job service offices, the Internet, local libraries and universities and community colleges.