Consumer Publications List
Baltimore man responded to an advertisement on the Internet by a California
company promising guaranteed overseas employment for a fee of $1,595. After
signing the contract and sending a down payment of $795, he was offered no job
leads. When he tried to reach the company, he discovered they'd moved, leaving
no forwarding address and the website was no longer valid.A Montgomery
County man called a Florida job placement agency that advertised in a Baltimore
newspaper. After the company representative guaranteed him a job within 60 days,
the man charged the $300 fee to his credit card over the phone. When the company
prepared an amateurish resume and failed to provide any interviews or referrals,
the consumer decided to seek a refund. But by then, the company had gone out of
business.Many job seekers turn to
employment agencies, career counselors and resume services when searching for
employment. Many of these agencies are legitimate businesses that provide
meaningful assistance.However, job search scams often flourish during
periods of high unemployment when people are most vulnerable. Bogus career
marketers take advantage of consumers who, frustrated by a long job hunt, are
anxious to speed up the process. Beware if you're considering such a company.
You may find yourself paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in advance
fees for services the company misrepresents - or never provides at
all.Here's what frequently happens: You see an advertisement or
receive an e-mail promising access to the "hidden job market." The ad or e-mail
may tell you to contact an out-of-state job search firm for this access. You
receive a pitch about:
jobs with great
pay and benefits;
tax-free salaries with paid food, housing and medical care in exotic locales
a specific number
the firm's high
rate of success with past clients;
of information on corporations; or
reserving a job by
sending in money right away.
Many consumers complain that after
sending their advance payments, career marketing firms provide them with sloppy
resumes and outdated lists of business contacts to call. The "special database"
of information they tout is often the same information readily available to
anyone from newspaper ads or internet employment websites.You may be
charged for secretarial services by career marketers who send your unsolicited
resume to prospective employers. Meanwhile, it's unlikely the job search firm
has any special contacts at those companies, so you'd be better off sending your
resume yourself. And worse, many unscrupulous career marketers close
down after a few months, eluding law enforcement authorities and job-seekers
these guidelines when seeking employment services:
Be suspicious of
any employment services that guarantee they'll find you a job.
Don't pay a fee in
advance. Some unscrupulous agencies may promise you that you can reserve a job
by sending in money right away. Don't do it. State law prohibits an employment
agency from collecting a fee in advance of services. This is true even if the
agency doesn't call itself an employment agency, but still provides information
to enable you to obtain employment.
Don't give your
credit card number out, even if the firm promises not to charge your account
until you sign the contract.
spend money responding to job ads or signing a contract with a job search
Check out the
agency, including the owner's credentials and those of the career counselor
assigned to you. Call the Commissioner of Labor and Industry at 410-767-2241 to
find out about any complaints made against the agency or if the company has a
bond on file. If a business charges a prospective employee a fee, it must be
bonded with the Commission of Labor and Industry. If the business is not bonded,
do not do work with them, as the bond is there to protect consumers from shady
actions such as deceit, fraud or misrepresentation. Call former and current
clients as references. Ask to see other resumes the agency prepared. Ask friends
and business associates what they know about the agency. Call the Better
Business Bureau to inquire about consumer complaints.
Read the contract
carefully, making sure you understand every term before you sign. Get all
promises in writing. If you have a complaint about an employment agency that
charges an advance fee, call the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's
Division of Labor and Industry, or visit their website at www.dllr.state.md.us/labor.
Find out who pays
the fee and how much it is. Try to find an agency whose entire fee is paid by
Free sources of employment information are
Labor, Licensing and Regulation website at www.dllr.state.md.us.
Local and county
human resources offices and information referral services.
college career services offices.
Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection
DivisionConsumer hotline: (410) 528-8662 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free
200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202
410-576-6300 / En español 410-230-1712 / 1-888-743-0023 toll-free / TTY: Dial 7-1-1 or 800-735-2258