The Federal Trade Commission has charged a nationwide marketing operation with violating federal law by deceiving consumers into buying materials they thought would help them get federal postal jobs. A federal judge has issued a preliminary order prohibiting the defendants from misrepresenting that they are affiliated with, or endorsed by, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The FTC seeks to bar the defendants from further violations and to obtain redress for affected consumers.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants have advertised falsely that postal jobs paying an average of $20 per hour or $57,000 per year are available. Consumers who call a toll-free number in response to the defendants’ ads and answer some questions are told that they “qualify for a position” and that jobs are open in their geographic area.
As stated in the complaint, consumers are also told that, for a fee ranging from $120 to $140, they will receive materials that will help them pass the postal exam, and that if they pass they’ll be hired by the USPS. The materials they receive include a book recounting the history of the postal service, exam instructions, and some “practice exams,” but nothing about exam dates or job openings.
According to the complaint, the following ad is typical of those that the defendants placed in newspapers and on the Web sites they operate:
U.S. Postal Service now Hiring. Avg. Pay $20hr or $57K annually
including Federal Benefits & OT. Paid Training, Vacations.
PT/FT 1-800-538-1859. USWA.
The defendants are U.S. Work Alliance, Inc., d/b/a Exam Services, Tyler Franklin Long, and Brenda Long, all based in Norcross, Georgia. They are charged with violating the FTC Act by falsely representing that they are affiliated with or endorsed by the USPS, and that postal jobs are available in areas where their ads appear. They are also charged with falsely representing that consumers who use their materials are more likely to pass the postal exam than those who don’t, and that consumers who pass the exam will be hired by the USPS.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 4-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
The Commission appreciates the assistance of the USPS and the US Postal Inspection Service in this matter.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
(FTC File No. 0723232)
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