Beware of Phony Federal Job Listings


Perhaps you've seen the advertisements in the classified section of the newspapers advertising job vacancies with the U.S. Government or U.S. Postal Service. Scam artists behind these ads offer, for a fee, to help job seekers find and apply for federal jobs. Some companies try to confuse consumers by using names that sound like government agencies, such as, "U.S. Agency for Career Advancement," or the "Postal Employment Service." Consumers should know that information about federal job vacancies are available free from the federal government.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service never charge application fees, sell study guides for job tests, or guarantee that an applicant will be hired. If positions require a competitive examination - and many do not -the federal agencies doing the hiring usually offer free sample questions to applicants who sign up for the exam.

To help you recognize federal job scams, the Better Business Bureau, along with the Federal Trade Commission, suggest you be aware of the following types of ads or techniques used by scam artists.

  • Ads that offer information about "hidden" or unadvertised federal jobs.
  • Ads that refer to a toll-free phone number. Often in these cases, an operator encourages you to buy a "valuable" booklet containing job listings, practice test questions, and tips for entrance exams.
  • Classified ads or oral sales pitches that imply an affiliation with the federal government, guarantee high test scores or jobs, or state that "no experience is necessary."
  • Toll-free numbers that direct you to other pay-per-call numbers for more information. Under federal law, any solicitations for pay-per-call numbers must contain full disclosures about cost. Also the solicitation must make clear if there is an affiliation with the federal government. You must have a chance to hang up before you incur any charges.

If you have questions about a company's advertisement for employment services, contact your Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or your state attorney general.