Classified ads promising wonderful employment opportunities with the U.S. Postal Service are diminishing the hopes and dreams of consumers looking for job security with the federal government. Scam artists place these ads and then sell to consumers a packet of information about these jobs and an exam --Test 470 -- needed for employment with the Postal Service. These fraud artists falsely claim to be Postal Service recruiters, they guarantee high exam scores, some cite a specific -- and false -- number of job openings, and others guarantee employment.
Let's take a moment to listen to a recording of these sales pitches--(play audio tape).
Our message for consumers is simple. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR INFORMATION ABOUT JOB OPPORTUNITIES WITH THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE OR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE FREE. DO NOT BELIEVE COMPANIES WHO PROMISE JOBS WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE. COMPANIES WHO DO SO ARE BREAKING THE LAW.
How many consumers respond to these ads? The numbers will surprise you. Several hundred thousand per month. How many job openings? Virtually none. And at $45 to $70 for the packet of information -- well, you do the math. The FTC did. The U.S. Postal Service did. In the cases announced today, it is estimated that the telemarketing firms were receiving a combined total of roughly 250,000 incoming calls from consumers per month. If only a fraction of the callers actually paid the $45 to $70 fee, the money adds up.
Joining together to "Stamp Out Job Fraud," the FTC and the Postal Service today announce a comprehensive law enforcement and consumer education campaign to stop these fraudulent practices. Together we have taken enforcement actions against 11 companies and the individuals that operate these schemes. The FTC has filed cases in federal court against three companies and thirteen individuals, alleging that they have misrepresented that they are affiliated with, or are in fact recruiting for, the Postal Service. We also charged that these companies were violating federal law by guaranteeing a high score on the exam, by citing a specific number of jobs that were available or by guaranteeing a job. And all of the companies targeted by the FTC have been charged with misrepresenting their refund policies and defrauding consumers.
The three federal courts have issued temporary restraining orders prohibiting false representations and imposing asset restraints. Trials will be scheduled in these matters.
With us today is Mary Elcano, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the U.S. Postal Service who will outline for you the actions the Postal Service is taking to combat this problem.
Also with us today is Mr. Luis Cota, of Loveland, Colorado. Mr. Cota responded to one of these classified ads, and never received the job he was looking for.
Job opportunities with the U.S. Postal Service are not easy to find. There is a high volume of applicants, and Test 470 is only offered every few years. How high a volume? For example, recently the postal district in New York City announced that it would offer the exam. Over four hundred thousand people applied. Such numbers are higher than Zip Codes.
Information about when the postal exam will be offered can be obtained by calling the phone number in the U.S. Government pages of the phone book listed under U.S. Postal Service for "Employment" or "Job Information." Information about federal job opportunities can be obtained by calling the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or on the Internet at: www.usajobs.opm.gov (no period).
I would like to introduce to you, Ms. Mary Elcano, with the U.S. Postal Service.
Now, Mr. Luis Cota, from Loveland, Colorado.
We will be happy to answer your questions...