I saw an ad in the newspaper for a construction job. The ad said to
dial an "800" toll-free number for an application. When I called, I
was told to dial a "900" number to find out about job openings in my
area. When I called that number, a recording told me to send a
stamped self-addressed envelope to have a job application mailed to
me. All I got was a one page generic job application and a "900"
number charge for $39.00 on my phone bill.
paraphrased from a sample complaint letter to the FTC.
Beware of employment ads directing applicants to call "900" telephone
numbers. You will be charged either a flat fee or a per-minute charge
for each "900" call, and the charge usually is much greater than the
toll for an ordinary long-distance call.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently sued two companies
advertising jobs in the U.S. using "900" numbers. These companies
not only failed to disclose the cost of each call, which ranged
between $10 and $18 per call, they also provided little, if any,
information that would lead to a job. Some consumers had to call back
several times to write down the recorded information and were billed
for each call.
The FTC also sued two other firms that advertised they would find
overseas jobs for upfront fees of as much as $600. One of the
companies claimed it had information on more than 10,000 currently
available overseas jobs and that its customers would be matched with
at least three prospective employers. The FTC charged that few, if
any, of the company's job seekers received even an interview, much
less a job.
How to Protect Yourself
The FTC suggests the following precautions before you spend money to
respond to job ads or sign job placement contracts.
* Know what a "900" number call will cost before you make the call.
Reputable employment-service companies will state these costs
upfront. If you have problems with charges on your phone bill for
"900" numbers because of calls made to a fraudulent business, contact
your telephone company immediately. You can ask your phone company to
delete the charges, although it is not legally obligated to do so.
AT&T cannot disconnect your phone for failure to pay. For policy
information related to other carriers, call the carrier or the
Federal Communications Commission.
* Realize that employment-service firms can only promise to help you
find a job; they cannot guarantee that they will find you a suitable
* Check with your local consumer protection agency and the state
Attorney General's Office to see if they have received any complaints
about an employment company with whom you intend to sign a contract.
Ask for a company's references and call them.
* Most important, read your contract carefully before you sign it.
If the employment-service representative makes claims that are not in
the contract, remember the contract is what counts.
If you are looking for a job and want assistance in doing so without
spending much money, consider the job information resources listed
In addition to the classified ad section of your newspaper, a number
of free information sources are available. Check your telephone
directory for local listings.
State job-service offices post job vacancies. They also provide some
counseling and referrals to other job sources.
Local and county human-resource offices and information referral
services offer some placement assistance. They can give you the names
of other groups that can help, such as labor unions or federally-
funded vocational programs.
University and college career-service offices usually limit their
assistance to students and alumni, but some may let you look at their
job listings. They may be a good reference for other job sources.
Local libraries also can be a helpful source. Ask the librarian for
material that can help you write a resume, conduct an interview, or
compile a list of companies whom you might contact about job
For More Information
To learn more about employment-service firms, write to your local
Better Business Bureau. If you have a problem with a firm, contact
your local consumer protection office, Better Business Bureau, the
appropriate state licensing board, or your state Attorney General.
Although the FTC cannot intervene in individual cases, the staff
monitors job placement practices and would appreciate copies of your
correspondence. Write to "Job Scams", Bureau of Consumer Protection,
Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580.
Facts for Consumers from the Federal Trade Commission
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net's Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.