"Early Show" consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen reported Friday on the broadcast that the government is hiring, but if you're looking for a government job and someone tries to charge you a fee to get information, you may be the victim of a scam.
Career forecasters, Koeppen reported, say the federal government is a good bet for a job in a shaky economy. However, if you look online or in any local paper, there are plenty of companies willing to help you secure a job with the government -- but at a price.
Koeppen met Brett Leucher, of Washington, D.C., a job seeker who answered an ad for a job with the U.S. Postal Service. He had high hopes for a job with security, great benefits and the potential for a lasting career.
Leucher said he was contacted and told he needed to purchase mandatory training packages. He was asked to give his bank information.
Leucher said, "I even asked specifically, 'Is this a scam?' (They said,) 'No, we work directly with the post office.'"
Leucher paid $120 to the company. He thought it would get him one step closer to his dream job with the government.
"(I) actually got a little excited because of what they promised me in the ads," Leucher said.
But his excitement turned to disappointment when he learned that instead of hiring, the post office was, in fact, cutting jobs. It seemed he paid money for nothing.
Leucher said he was "furious."
Leucher said, "Just watch what you do. I mean, watch who you give your information to."
Leucher added, after his bad experience, he's now put his plans of finding a government job on hold.
He said, "I definitely way one of the people that didn't think could happen to them. I always thought people left themselves out there and that's why they got taken advantage of. ... One minute you want to better yourself, the next minute you're getting taken advantage of."
Allison Southwick, of the Better Business Bureau, said many more people are susceptible to job offers that are ultimately only scams. Southwick said nationwide consumers have complained of being ripped off by companies charging fees to find government jobs.
"You do not need to pay money to get a federal job," she said. "All of this information is available for free online through the government's website."
USAJobs.gov is a free government Web site. Koeppen said plenty of jobs are listed on the site for free, but on other sites the same jobs are listed for a fee.
Koeppen added some red flags that you might be getting scammed are Web sites and ads that guarantee they will find you a job or require you to pay money up front for a database of jobs or a study guide to pass an exam.
If you feel you've fallen prey to one of these scams, Koeppen said, you should call your state's attorney general's office, and file a complaint with their consumer affairs department. Also, she said you should call your credit card company and dispute the charges, and hopefully you can get out of paying any money.
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