|Attorney General Bill Mims|
By Bill Mims
ALEXANDRIA, VA - Jobless rates have increased this year throughout the United States. Unemployment is at 9.4 percent nationally and nearly 7 percent in Virginia. In this climate, business is lucrative for job-search services.
Our office has sued several businesses that claim to help the unemployed find jobs, but actually are not doing so. We assert that Virginia Employment Services, Inc., Virginia Personnel, Inc. and New Beginnings, Inc., based in Hampton Roads, violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act by defrauding job-seekers.
The companies posted job opportunities in local newspapers and on the Internet. The companies charged consumers hundreds of dollars in “membership” fees in exchange for “guaranteed” jobs, but then offered little or no assistance in finding employment. The companies refused to provide refunds, and made unauthorized charges to debit and credit cards.
We investigated the complaints, and when the companies refused to reimburse consumers and halt prohibited conduct, we initiated court action.
People are working hard to get through these tough times. Unfortunately, some companies use this as an opening to solicit those who can afford it the least -- people who desperately are seeking jobs.
Consumers should report such activities of companies purportedly offering job-search services but which are engaged in fraudulent activity to the Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-552-9963 or www.vdacs.virginia.gov.
Consumer protection is an important statutory duty of the Office of the Attorney General, and our staff can help. In an age of increased consumer issues, we all must continue to be educated and vigilant.
Bill Mims is Virginia's Attorney General.