Consumer Protection

How to Protect Yourself: Job Listing and Job Search Firms

Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office

People out of work and in need of employment are an easy target for unscrupulous job listing and job search firms. Job listing companies typically ask you to call a “900” telephone number, costing $10-$18 per call, and provide little, if any, useful information. Job search firms advertise the availability of overseas jobs in classified ads listing an “800” number for you to call for more information. Upon calling the toll-free number, a salesperson gives you a sales pitch describing the available jobs, salaries and benefits. Before you decide to sign up with a job listing or job search firm, please consider the following:

Be wary of guarantees that sound too good to be true.

Employment services cannot guarantee you a job, they can only help you find one. If an employment search firm guarantees you a job, and quotes a specific salary and benefits package, the job probably does not exist. Overseas job scams are not bashful about what they promise to their victims – unusually high salaries for the position type; benefits such as paid housing, full medical and dental insurance coverage; even food and relocation expenses. In these cases, ask yourself whether these promises are realistic; and whether it is plausible that countries with high unemployment would give away such great jobs to people other than their own citizens.

Read the contract carefully.

If the contract says something different from what the salesperson told you, you may be held to the terms of the written contract. Do not believe a salesperson who assures you that the contract contains “standard stuff we have to put in there,” and not to worry about it. The contract says what it says for a reason, and was written for the company, not for you. If you have already paid a job search firm and have a change of heart, read and follow the cancellation rights provided by the contract.

Know the costs up front and who is required to pay the fee.

Know ahead of time what the 900-number charges are before you place the call. Legitimate companies are required to disclose these charges up front. You should be wary if a job search firm asks you to pay an advance fee before you get a job, especially if the company requests that payment be in the form of a money order or cashier’s check. Most reputable employment agencies only charge you a fee once you have been placed, and even then, the new employer often pays all or part of the fee.

Investigate the company.

Before making any commitments, investigate the firm. Research the company online and contact the Better Business Bureau at to determine what others have said about the firm. Call the Attorney General’s Office in the state in which the firm is located to find out if there are any consumer complaints against the firm. Do not rely on agencies such as Chambers of Commerce or other business organizations where membership is based solely on payment of a fee.

File a complaint.

You may file a complaint against a job listing or search firm with the Attorney General’s Office online at or by phone toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, you may want to file a complaint against the firm with the Federal Trade Commission at and the Better Business Bureau at

You may also file a complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which acts as the State's consumer complaint clearinghouse, at