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Federal And Postal Job Scams:
Tip-Offs To Rip-Offs

You don’t have to pay for information about job vacancies with the U.S. Government or U.S. Postal Service. But scam artists are victimizing many Americans by selling 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 fraudulent companies even try to confuse consumers by using names like the "U.S. Agency for Career Advancement," or the "Postal Employment Service," which sound like federal agencies.

Scam artists may lie about the availability of federal job openings in your area. For example, the Postal Service has few vacancies for career positions. For many of the entry jobs you must take a written examination first, Test 470. Postal Service hiring takes place through 85 district offices at the local level. If a private party tells you that postal jobs are available, check with the Postal Service to determine if hiring is taking place and if the exam is required for eligibility. Because of the high volume of applicants taking the test, it is only offered every few years in any given district.

Information about U.S. government jobs is available free. Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service never charge application fees, or guarantee that an applicant will be hired. If positions require a competitive examination—and many do not—hiring agencies typically offer free sample questions to consumers who sign up for the exam.

It is deceptive for anyone to guarantee you a high score on Tests 460 and 470, the postal entrance exams for rural carrier associate, clerk, city carrier, mail handler, flat sorter machine operator, mail processor and markup clerk. These exams test your general aptitude, not your knowledge of facts. Attending workshops, studying exam techniques, and taking practice questions will not assure you of a top score on any postal exam. Indeed, a top score does not guarantee that you will be hired. You must meet other requirements, including passing a background check and a drug test. Veterans receive hiring preferences.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management say certain techniques are tip-offs to federal and postal job rip-offs:

  • 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."

  • 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 employment services, contact:

  • Federal Trade Commission, 202-326-3128.

  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). Your local USPIS office is listed in the blue (Government) pages of your telephone directory.

  • The National Fraud Information Center (NFIC), a project of the National Consumers League, 1-800-876-7060, available weekdays, or at www.fraud.org on the Internet.

  • Your state attorney general, or your local Better Business Bureau.

Federal job information is available through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s USA Jobs information system.

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