April 05, 2020

You don’t have to pay for information about job vacancies with the U.S. government or Postal Service. Many Americans are victimized by scam artists who sell information about federal job opportunities. These scam artists advertise in the classified sections of newspapers and offer — for a fee — to help job seekers find and apply for federal jobs. Some companies try to confuse consumers by using names like “U.S. Agency for Career Advancement” or “Postal Employment Service,” to make them sound like federal agencies.

Scam artists may lie about the existence of federal job openings in your area. For example, the Postal Service has few vacancies for permanent full-time jobs. Postal Service hiring takes place through 85 district offices at the local level and when positions are announced. They often are advertised a very short time. Your local post office is the best source of information about current openings.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service never charge application fees, sell study guides for job tests, nor guarantee that an applicant will be hired. If positions require a competitive exam, and many do not, hiring agencies typically offer free sample questions to consumers who sign up for the exam.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management say certain techniques usually can tip off consumers to job scams.

Classified advertisements or oral sales pitches that imply an affiliation with the federal government, guarantee high scores or jobs, or state “no experience is necessary.”

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.”

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 concerns about a company’s advertisement for employement services, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-800-654-8896, the Federal Trade Commission at 202-326-3128, or visit www.usajobs.opm.gov on the Internet.

Consumer Forum is a collaborative effort of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast COMBAT. Send your questions to Consumer Forum, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402-1329. COMBAT is a membership organization with basic dues of $10 a year. For membership information write to the above address. Please enclose a large, stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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