|Job Fraud: Tip-Offs to Rip-Offs|
800 and 900 Job Phone Numbers
Many people don't realize that all telephone numbers beginning with 900 "area codes" are pay-per-call services. According to FTC regulations, the providers are required to disclose fees up front. But there are loopholes, and you can bet that scams take advantage of them. You likely won't know it was an employment scam until you get your phone bill.
We all expect 800 and 888 numbers to be toll free. In the case above, the job seeker was baited by a toll-free 800 number, then switched to a pay-per-call 900 number. (The ol' bait and switch scam.) Had the job seeker known about 900 numbers, he or she could have avoided the job scam.
But you can even get stuck with a charge for what you think is a toll-free number, because providers are also allowed to charge for certain services at 800 and 888 numbers. As with 900 numbers, the providers are supposed to tell you about fees up front. But again, there are loopholes and the scams that take advantage of them. Some might even switch you over from an 800 to a 900 number without your knowledge.
How do you avoid falling victim to these job scams? Easy. Don't call 800 or 888 numbers for vague or general job openings. Never call 900 numbers. Instead, search reputable job banks, employers' Web sites and local newspapers for specific job openings.
If it's an employer's 800 or 888 number for specific job openings, it's probably okay to call. But typically, employers include alternate, local phone numbers. They also usually include fax numbers and street or email addresses for resumes, along with their company names. So, if it's an 800 or 888 number alone, be suspicious. Even if more contact info is provided, make sure it's really an employer by researching the company.
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