With the unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent, many people will likely make getting a job a prime New Year's resolution for 2011. They should be careful, however, not to fall for a scam that promises a job, for a fee.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has posted some guidelines on his website to help consumers avoid some of these scams, that prey on desperation and have multiplied since the start of the recession.

For starters, never, ever agree to pay a fee for the chance to interview for a job. If you applied at a Fortune 500 company,  how would you react if the interviewer asked you to pay $50 or $100 to land the job, for starter materials, or for a "good faith" payment to make sure you were serious about the job?

Chances are, you wouldn't consider it, which is good advice if someone who contacts you using the Internet does the same thing.

"Whenever you're asked to pay for the chance at a job, or information about work-fromhome jobs, it's a scam,” Bruning says.

Also, check out the business before you apply, especially if you've never heard of it before. Make sure they have a physical address and a phone number. Call to make sure it's a real phone number. Do an Internet search to see if you can find any positive or negative comments.

While asking for an upfront fee is a dead giveaway that the job is part of a scam, here are some other red flags, according to Bruning:

  • The company uses free Web hosting services (such as Tripod or Geocities).
  • They use free Web email services (such as Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail).
  • They use Post Office boxes for mailings and don't disclose their real addresses.
  • They won't give you a telephone number where you can contact them.

You should also beware of vague and incredible claims. A company that doesn't state its name, costs, or other important information in their ads usually has a good reason to do so. It's a scam.

Some offers claim that you can "make up to $1,000 a week" doing just a few hours worth of unskilled work. Really? If the pay is that good, why isn't the recruiter doing it, instead of giving you the opportunity?

Don't let scammers use high-pressure tactics to sucker you in. If you're given a timelimited offer, there's usually a reason why. Scammers know that pressure brings in people.

Never reply to spam. Fraudulent offers for home-based businesses or work-at-home opportunities almost always arrive as spam. The better it sounds, the less likely that it's legitimate.