Better Business Bureau warns of job-hunting scams

By on October 31, 2011

CHICAGO—If you’re looking for a job, you may see ads for staffing agencies that promise results. Many of these services may be legitimate and helpful, but others may misrepresent their services, promote outdated or fictitious job offerings, or charge high fees in advance for services that may not lead to a job. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) advises job seekers to take precaution when using staffing agencies to find a job.

“Staffing agencies can be an excellent source for finding contract, temporary and full-time positions,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “But be sure to research the agency you are working with before you hand them money or confidential information. This can filter out illegitimate companies and scams from the job search.”

If an agency has something to hide, it will use vague language and fail to clearly indicate specific details about the job. Fortunately, people are using the BBB for free referrals and to research companies before selecting a staffing agency. There has been a 27 percent increase in inquiries about placement services in the past 12 months, or 9,748 inquiries, compared to 7,634 inquiries for the previous 12 months.

The BBB recommends job seekers take these steps:

• Be cautious of any company that promises to get you a job or offers an exceptionally high salary. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phony employers might brag about exceptionally high salary potential and excellent benefits for little experience in order to lure unsuspecting job hunters into their scam.
• Be skeptical of any employment-service firm that charges first, even if it guarantees refunds.
• Get a copy of the agency’s contract and read it carefully before you pay any money. Understand the terms and conditions of the agency’s refund policy. Make sure you understand what services they will provide and what you’ll be responsible for doing. Stay away from high-pressure sales pitches that require you to pay now or risk losing out on an opportunity.
• Be cautious about purchasing services or products from a firm that’s reluctant to answer your questions.
• Be aware that some listings sound like they are jobs when they’re selling general information about getting a job.
• Research the company or organization mentioned in an ad or an interview by an employment service to find out more details on the type of company where you may be placed.

For more information on businesses you can trust, visit