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You see an advertisement in your local newspaper for somebody who might be able to help you out. They say they can help you find a job, and that their employment agency has an incredible percentage of placement. You call the number or send in your money only to find later that you've been ripped off.

What are some typical overseas job scams?
- 900-number scam. These are companies that advertise that they can get you a job, all you have to do is call a 900-number and they'll set you on your way to a positive employment opportunity. The catch is that when you call the number and you get your phone bill, they've charged you an outrageous amount for the call (yes, a 900-number is a toll call). And all you found out by calling the number is that you need to send them a letter in order to find out more information.
- Advanced-fee firms. These are companies that charge an advanced fee, anywhere from $50 to a few thousand dollars in order to help you out. They may promise a refund if they don't get you a job, too. But don't get too excited about that refund. The Federal Trade Commission has run into several companies that operate with this method that have taken prospective employees' money and closed up shop, never to be seen or heard from again.
- Fabricating Job Leads Firms. These companies will make up job leads for you just so they can get your money. They'll tell you they charge a fee only when they provide you with a job lead. Well, they may send you a lead with a bill, but that lead turns out to be false.

How do you avoid an overseas job scam?
- Check out the company. Call around to different agencies near where the company does business. Find out the company's official name, address and phone number. Call the country (check with the U.S. embassy) or state government in which that company does business and find out if they have a good record of business conduct.
- Get references. Ask the employment agencies for names and numbers of people who have used their services and gotten results. Also ask for the names and phone numbers of employers who have done the same. Call these people and find out what exactly the success rate has been.
- Don't do business with companies that only operate over the telephone or through the mail.
- Get the agreement in writing before you sign up. Make sure they send you all the details in a written contract and carefully read it over so you know what you're getting into before you give a company any money.