FTC's Consumer Alert
FTC Job Scams: "Postal Job" ads not what they seem
By Amy Barrilleaux
You may have seen the want-ads running in a Quad City newspaper for postal jobs - with pay of up to $49 an hour.
But the ads are not what they seem.
"It says hiring 2006 postal jobs," said Davenport resident Robert Christenson, who saw the ad and took notice.
"I thought the US Post Office was running an ad in the paper and hiring people for post office jobs," he said.
For two Sundays in a row, the ad appeared in the Quad City Times touting pay of $17.50 to $49 an hour, full federal benefits and no experience necessary. So Robert dialed the toll-free number.
"Well I called and the lady started with a series of questions," he recounted. "She asked if I was a US citizen. She asked me if I had a credit card numer."
That's when he got the feeling something wasn't right.
"I asked her why she needed my credit card number and then she repeated. She said 'Do you have a credit card number?' I said, 'I just want to know why you're asking me for my credit card number.' And she hung up," he said.
Turns out, Robert hadn't called the US Postal Service at all.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the ad could be part of a scheme the government's been trying to crack down on for years.
Companies run ads implying an affiliation with the federal government, then ask consumers to pay -- sometimes more than $100 -- for practice exams and other testing materials.
In 1998, the FTC brought enforcement action against 11 companies, and this past year, against about a half dozen -- all operating a lot like the one that ran the ad in the Quad City Times.
"From just reading the ad, I definitely thought it was a legitimate ad," Robert said.
The company Robert called is actually Resources USA, based out of tennesse. They charge $109 for sample test materials, but insist they're not doing anything illegal.
Quad City Times representatives say they don't condone misleading ads, but caution that they don't have the opportunity to reserach every advertisement -- and expect advertisers to be honest with their readers.
The FTC says information about post office jobs is always free, and the US Postal Service never takes out classified ads.
If you think you've been taken-in by the ads, you can file a complaint at the Federal Trade Commission's website -- www.ftc.gov. Or you can call 1-877-FTC HELP.