In a time when many people are searching for jobs, the Internet is full of scam artists hoping you will pay for employment information from the government that is already available for free.
The Web site usajobs.gov
is a free government Web site that connects people to job listings and resources across the country.
However, there are several other destinations on the Internet that look just as official, offering the same information for a fee.
"It's complicated to fill out resumes, difficult to get into the system," said Vincine Reinbold, a recent college graduate, reading from several Web sites offering online courses to help job-seekers navigate the government system.
The sites boasts of having an inside track to government jobs.
Reinbold said she started her search on the popular Web site CareerBuilder.com and found links she thought were actual job leads.
"So I clicked on it and it went to what appeared to be a government site," she said.
That site apply4gov.com
, looked official to Reinbold.
"I came into one where they actually had a video picture of President Obama standing there saying, 'I want to find you a federal job.' I thought it must be legit," she said.
Reinbold said she clicked through the site to a dead end, where she found a toll-free number.
She called it.
The person on the other end "was reading a script and started telling me federal jobs were difficult to apply for and they were the agency connected to federal jobs, that an individual had to go through them to get a federal job," Reinbold recalled.
That statement is not true.
Applicants do not need to go through a third party to apply for a government job, but Reinbold said it still took a while for the red flags to go up.
"It looked so credible I thought maybe the federal government had set up this agency," she said.
The Call7 Investigators looked at several Web sites that charge for government job training and placement that is, according to the federal government, unnecessary to apply for federal jobs.
also lists these Web sites as ones to avoid if someone is looking for legitimate job leads: apply4gov.com, FederalJobSearch.com, GovernmentJobSearch.com, AmericaJob.com and FederalResumes.com.
Reinbold was told by the representative for apply4gov.com that she needed a three-month, online course for $995.
She declined the offer.
The Call7 Investigators found identical job listings for free on usajobs.gov listed on the pay-to-play Web site federaljobsearch.com.
On the government's legitimate job site, usajobs.gov, it refers to these sites as fraudulent because they often claim to have exclusive information or a relationship with the federal government.
Consumers also need to be aware of fake accreditations and affiliations online.
The Call7 Investigators also spoke with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Association of Employment Web Sites.
Both said the Web site Apply4Gov.com is not affiliated with them, even though they list the organizations on their site.
According to usajobs.gov, any ads or sites that imply an affiliation with the government, promise high test scores, access to hidden jobs or refer you to a toll-free number are bogus.
The Call7 Investigators recommend you do your homework on the business. Is it registered with the Secretary of State? Does it have a valid street address? Is it listed with the Better Business Bureau?
Get answers to these questions before you pay for any service. Watch for red flags when responding to job postings online.
Spelling and grammatical errors, links that don't work, being asked to pay a fee, being asked for personal or financial information or to wire money are always red flags.
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