Government-Job Scams

As a species, scammers are a nefarious lot. They prey on the unsuspecting and they deviously separate money from those in need. One of the latest schemes that scammers are engaging in involves them offering to assist job searchers in obtaining positions with federal government agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service.

What This Scam Is

In the aforementioned scam, scammers pretend to help people with the application process to obtain coveted positions with the Postal Service or other U.S. government agencies. The scammers will often advertise online and in the job sections of newspaper classifieds or with job services. Some of them will operate under the cover of elaborate, official-sounding names such as “U.S. Career Advancement Agency” or “Postal Development Service.”

Once an interested individual contacts one of these bogus services, the scammers then offer to help them pass government job entry tests. For a small, sometimes refundable fee, the scammers will explain how their test preparation material will enable the person to pass the exams and will all but guarantee a high score that will enable the individual to obtain a local position with the Postal Service or whatever other federal agency they are applying for.

The Truth About Government Jobs

Many positions with the Postal Service do require an entrance exam to verify an applicant’s ability to manage the day-to-day functions of the position. Many other positions with the federal government do not. Government agencies that do require exams will always offer free sample questions as a means for people to prepare for the testing.

Regarding the Postal Service, simply passing an entrance exam does not guarantee an applicant a position, let alone passing the exam with a high score. The applicant still must pass a background check and a drug test. This all presupposes, of course, that the Postal Service has open positions, which are actually fairly rare. To verify any supposed employment opportunity, you should always access the agency’s website.

How to Avoid Falling for the Scam

The Federal Trade Commission offers several tips on how to avoid illegitimate advertised government employment opportunities and how to prevent scammers from being able to take advantage of you. They are as follows:

  • Avoid classified or online ads that imply their affiliation with government agencies involved with hiring.
  • Avoid ads that offer detailed information regarding “hidden” positions with the federal government.
  • Avoid ads that refer applicants to a toll-free telephone number. Operators responding to calls made to the number often will direct applicants to buy valuable booklets that will supposedly guarantee them high scores on entrance exams.
  • Avoid ads that direct applicants to other pay-per-call numbers such as 900 numbers. These scams leech money from applicants, charging high rates for every minute the applicant remains on the line.

If you see an ad that you’re just not sure about and you need some help in verifying its legitimacy, you can contact the FTC online or call 877-FTC-HELP for assistance.

It should be remembered that federal government positions never require you to take fee-based tests in order to be eligible for them. Generally, submitting a free application is all that you need to do to start the process of obtaining the desired job.