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The entrepreneurial spirit is a wonderful thing. To an entrepreneur, a problem is not a bad thing, it is an opportunity for a money making solution. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs would rather feed at the bottom.

The financial crisis has brought about the newest of that ilk – companies who con the unemployed. In 2007, the Consumer Protection Agency received almost six thousand complaints about employment replacement services running various scams. One can only imagine what is going on today. Of course, the bad guys want your money:

… [T]he schemes often involve a firm requesting a fee in exchange for career advice along with access to employment opportunities inaccessible to the general public.

The request for upfront money, experts say, is the first red flag.

In almost every instance, consumer advocates contend, the "exclusive" job listings that illegitimate staffing firms share with clients are available to anyone with access to the Internet.

The list of ways that job seekers can be taken advantage of runs the gamut. At the same time, there are legitimate headhunters and employment agencies who can help place the unemployed in available jobs. The following are tips that may be helpful:

  • * Never provide a credit card or social security number in response to an e-mail, snail mail or television advertisement.
  • * Most requests for personal information have everything to do with identity theft and nothing to do with job placement.

* Do not apply to a position without knowing the company’s name and physical address.

  • * Never pay any type of fee for services without a face to face meeting and, even then, only after careful investigation. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • It seems incredible that there are people out there that would take advantage of folks who are at such a disadvantage. Those soulless types who are willing to do so, however, realize that hard times increase their odds of success. Be aware.

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