Job seekers, interested in overseas employment that promises high pay, good benefits, free travel and adventure, should beware that there are unscrupulous operators who have devised elaborate and very convincing scams to bilk unwitting, and often desperate applicants. Before getting swept away with promises of exotic job opportunities, make sure you have thoroughly investigated the matter and know the potential risks involved in obtaining overseas employment. Also, note that the scams outlined in this pamphlet may be practiced against job applicants seeking employment within the states.
Unlike legitimate employment firms that have permanent addresses, many unscrupulous operators run their so-called job placement firms from out-of-state, and may provide only a post office or mail drop address. Although there are legitimate firms with post office or mail drop addresses, job applicants should be aware that this practice, when used by unscrupulous operators, makes it easier for the operators to avoid scrutiny by their clients.
Firms that charge advance fees - These operations usually advertise in newspapers and magazines. The ads most frequently offer construction jobs, one of the industries hardest hit by a weak economy. Consumers who call the number, provided in the ad, are generally told that there are immediate openings available for which they are perfectly suited. But to lock in the job, they are told, they must pay a placement fee in advance.
Firms that charge a fee once they provide a job lead - A disreputable firm may fabricate job leads, or bring in a third-party to impersonate a potential employer, in order to get an applicant's fee.
"900" number operators - A "900" number connected with employment opportunities may charge a high flat fee, or per-minute rate. In some instances, "900" number operators may fail to disclose the cost of each call or, if printed, display it in fine print. As a result, callers may not be aware of how much they are spending. Some unscrupulous operators may even increase their fees by creating delays while the caller is on the line.
Many job seekers have lost money to disreputable advance-fee placement firms. If you decide to use an overseas job placement firm, the best way to avoid being scammed is to learn as much as you can about the operation,
Asking for references - Request both names of employers and employees the company has actually found jobs for. Scam artists will typically defend their refusal to provide the information, claiming it is a "trade secret." Or, they frequently claim that if they told you where the openings are, you would circumvent their services. These schemers may also cite privacy concerns as the reason for refusing to provide the names of people they have placed.
Checking out reliability - Contact the local Better Business Bureau, as well as the state's consumer protection agency, to find out if any complaints have been filed against the firm.
Avoiding firms that operate solely via telephone or mail - Any reputable placement firm will almost certainly need to meet you before it can market you effectively to an employer. Be suspicious of any operation that claims it can place you with an employer, without meeting and interviewing you.