JOB OPPORTUNITY SCAMS
During hard economic times, more Ohioans are looking for new job opportunities
to supplement their income. Although there are many companies offering legitimate jobs,
the Ohio Attorney General’s office warns consumers to be wary of scams that target job
A job opportunity scam occurs when a company makes phony job offers or false
promises to consumers seeking employment. Instead of helping consumers make money,
the scam artists actually take money from consumers. They usually fail to deliver on their promises and
consumers are left with less money than they started with.
Scam artists usually place ads in newspapers or on the Internet, promising good money and
professional experience, but the jobs either are non-existent or very low paying. The fraudulent
companies often charge high fees for job information, training sessions or promotional materials, and
many victims end up losing thousands of dollars.
Work-from-home offers can also be tempting. Some even offer, “A chance to go on a shopping spree for free! Get $1,000 cash for free to be a Mystery or Secret Shopper in your home area and keep
the things you buy!” Regardless of the pitch, however, these scams cost job seekers a great deal of money.
Types of Employment Service Firms
To protect themselves, job seekers need to understand the different types of employment services
and the costs involved. According to the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov), these services are:
? The federally-funded and state-operated Public Employment Service, also known as the
Job Service. These employment services provide links to “numerous employment and training
programs in each state, including programs for people with disabilities, minorities, older workers,
veterans, welfare recipients, and young people.” In Ohio, it is called Ohio One-Stop with
locations in all 88 counties. It is managed by Ohio Job and Family Services. For more
information, visit http://jfs.ohio.gov or call (614) 644-0677.
? Employment agencies or personnel placement services. These agencies “work to fill
specific positions available within companies. Their purpose is to bring applicants and employers
together.” Often, the company hiring an employee will pay the placement fee. Sometimes the
fee is split between the applicant, (after they are hired) and the company. Job seekers can check
with the Ohio Secretary of States Office to see if the agency is registered to do business in Ohio
at www.sos.state.oh.us or call (614) 466-3910.
? Executive search firms or executive recruiters. These firms are hired by a business to find the
“right” person for a particular position within a company. These people are sometimes called
“Headhunters.” The hiring company pays the fee, not the executive who is hired. Job seekers
can check with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to see if the agency is registered to do
business in Ohio at www.sos.state.oh.us or call (614) 466-3910.
? Temporary help services. These companies supply workers to businesses on a temporary or
“as-needed” basis. The business pays the firm and the temporary service firm pays the workers.
Job seekers can check with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to see if the agency is registered
to do business in Ohio at www.sos.state.oh.us or call (614) 466-3910. Cordray’s Consumer Comments June 12, 2009
? Executive counseling services or career counseling services. These services help job
seekers with “career directions and decisions” more than job placement. They may offer services
such as skill identification, self evaluation, resume preparation and letter writing. Fees can be as
high as $4,000, with payment often required before services are provided. This does not
guarantee job placement. Job seekers can check with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to see
if the agency is registered to do business in Ohio at www.sos.state.oh.us or call (614) 466-3910. ? Job listing services or advisory services. These firms sell information about getting a job in
the United States or overseas. They often use pay-per-call 900-numbers to do this. They do not
provide job placement. They provide lists of job openings and general tips on job searching or
interviewing. They frequently require up-front fees for their listings.
Follow these tips to avoid job opportunity scams:
? Beware of companies that request payment to help you find work. Some business
opportunities involve upfront costs, but for most jobs, you should be making money, not spending
it. Thoroughly research a company before you pay for starter kits or other materials that you will
“need” in order to make money. Be especially suspicious if a company asks you to wire transfer
money to a foreign country. For employment assistance and free resources, check with your local
community One-Stop center. Go to http://jfs.ohio.gov/workforce/jobseekers/onestopmap.stm
for more information.
? Don’t trust unrealistic salaries or vague job descriptions. Many scam artists
purposely make generic, unclear claims about job opportunities. Before you commit to
any job, make sure you understand exactly what kind of work is involved.
? Research reputations. Before you schedule job interviews, check complaints filed
against the business with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. Make sure business
names are registered with the Ohio Secretary of State by visiting www.sos.state.oh.us. Ask
current and former employees about their positive and negative experiences with the
? Beware of lengthy contracts. Don’t sign a contract without reading the fine print.
Scam artists may try to slip certain clauses into a long agreement, hoping you won’t read
them. Regardless of verbal promises, written contracts generally are binding. Take the
contract to an attorney or trusted friend to review. Don’t give in to high pressure sales
and companies that do not allow you to review the contract independently.
? Be wary of suspicious interviews. Interviews that take place at unusual locations, such
as hotel lobbies, restaurants or locations other than a normal place of business are fishy.
Be skeptical of group interviews and representatives that seem to be selling the company
to you. If you feel pressured, walk away; you probably have good reason to be suspicious.
? Watch for personal information ploys. A fraudulent company may deceptively offer a
job opportunity to gain your personal information. To protect yourself from identity
theft, limit the amount of personal information you give to a company.
? Beware of firms promoting “previously undisclosed” federal government jobs. All
federal jobs positions are announced to the public on www.usajobs.gov.
To report consumer fraud call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800)
282-0515. For more information, please visit our Web site www.SpeakOutOhio.gov.
Cordray’s Consumer Comments June 12, 2009