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Common job scams caregivers need to know about and how to protect yourself

If you're a nanny, babysitter, senior caregiver, pet sitter or house cleaner looking to find potential gigs online, here's how to spot the common job offer scams.

Common job scams caregivers need to know about and how to protect yourself

While the internet and job search websites are making it easier than ever for nannies, babysitters, pet sitters and other caregivers to find potential gigs, it also opens the door for scammers trying to trick you out of money using an array of job offer scams. Unfortunately, there are bad actors on the internet who will actually pose as families looking to hire help for their care needs. 

For Virginia nanny Kattia Morales, it all seemed a little too good to be true. When she was searching for a child care job, a guy reached out and told her his family was moving in from out of state. Not only did they want to hire her as a nanny — no interview necessary! — but they also wanted to pay her in advance.

“He was very generous and very trusting, offering me everything just like that without knowing me,” Morales says. “It was a very weird situation.”

Sensing something fishy about this job offer, she stopped responding to the man and reported the messages, potentially avoiding a common tactic used to scam nannies and other caregivers for money.

Protect yourself by knowing the warning signs of common job offer scams to look for and what to do if you spot a job scam while looking for work.

Top 5 signs of common job offer scams:

1. Someone offers to send you a check before you start the job

This is a very common scam; here’s a version of how it works:

The person claims to be moving to your area but needs your help setting things up for their child/senior, who is often in a wheelchair. They want to send you a check before the job starts to buy things for them, and it’s a BIG check. They tell you not to worry, to cash the check, buy the items and send them back whatever money is left, usually several thousand dollars. The scam? The check is fraudulent and if you cash it, you’ll likely be responsible for paying the money back to the bank.

Do not reply to messages from anyone asking you to cash a check, wire money, purchase something for them, etc., and do not accept money sent in advance to you. Don’t accept a job or any money from them until you’ve been able to interview with them in person and even then, don’t ever cash a check on their behalf. It’s also a good idea to report any suspicious job offers to the job site you’re using.

2. They reach out, saying they want to hire you, sight unseen 

Watch out for this one. Never accept a job or any money until you’ve been able to interview with a family in person. And beware of anyone claiming to be moving to your area soon or running short on time for an interview.

3. They ask for your Social Security number, bank info or credit card info

This is a hard NO. A family has no need to get your bank or credit card data to hire you. Unless you’ve met in person with a family and have a job offer in hand, which is conditioned on a background check the family will run, you should never give your SSN, bank or personal info to a family for them to run a background check. Once you’re hired, a family may need your SSN for payroll purposes but again, that’s after you’ve been hired. 

Care will only ever ask for your SSN to run a CareCheck when you enroll on the site. If a family wants to run a background check on you, you’ll get a message from Care and be directed to a secure site. 

4. They ask you to send them a copy of your driver’s license and a selfie so they can run a background check 

Absolutely not! That’s a scam to steal your identity. Do not ever share your driver’s license with or without a selfie.

If you’re using the Care platform and a family wants to run a background check on you at this stage of the process, you’ll get a message from Care and be directed to a secure site to approve that request.

5. A job offer seems too good to be true

We hate to say it, but it probably is. Flag and report it to the job site you’re using … better to be safe than sorry.

Red flag language or requests

Not all caregiver job offer scams are identical, but they do often have a few key things in common that you should watch out for. These include:

  • The family is “relocating” or “out of town.” They want to hire you without meeting you first. Of course, there are very real, legitimate families looking to shore up child care before they move to a new city, but hiring you without some sort of interview — if not in person, then at least over the phone or via Zoom or FaceTime — is a bad sign.
  • Payment is upfront and/or unnecessarily complicated. Be wary of anyone asking you to accept payment before you start a nanny or caregiver job, or requesting you fork over money for any reason.
  • It all seems really rushed. Scammers will typically insist on a fast turnaround to pressure you into acting quickly and limit the time you have to think things through.
  • They insist on getting your personal information. Perfectly legitimate employers will ask you for your Social Security number and banking info in order to complete tax forms and arrange your payroll. But this all happens once you’ve officially been hired. That is, after the interviews and signed nanny contracts — not before.
  • There’s a heartbreaking story involved. Some scammers will tell you a sad story to get you to lower your guard. These generally are designed to play on your sympathies as a caregiver, such as saying their requests or rushed timelines are due to a sick child or senior.
  • The pay is too high. If the supposed job is offering a lot of money for part-time work or is way above average pay rates for nannies in your area, the job offer is probably not legit.

Tips for staying safe while job hunting

You might not be able to avoid these scams entirely, but you can take steps to protect yourself if you come across one, says Juliana Gruenwald Henderson, acting deputy director at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. She suggests when job hunting:

  • Google the potential client’s info (name, email address, phone number, etc.) to see if others have linked them to a scam.
  • Don’t cash or deposit checks from any potential employers and then send money on or wire it back.
  • Don’t accept payment from anyone you haven’t met in person or don’t already know.
If you’re using Care, keep all communication on the platform. This lets us monitor conversations and be on the lookout for patterns used by scammers.

How to report a job offer scam

Because job offer scams are often sent via job posting sites, it’s important to notify the site of the scam as soon as you suspect something fishy. You can also report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If you received a scam or other suspicious job offer on Care, there are several ways to report a concern to our Safety team.

Here’s how:
• Click on the three dots at the top right hand side of your message thread with the person in question and select “Report.” 
• Use the menu option at the top of the person’s Care profile and select “Report this user.” You can do this online or in the app.
• Finally, if you have any trouble reporting your concerns, you can contact our Safety Incident Support Line: 737-703-3620. 

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

If you’ve been the victim of a caregiver job scam, there are steps you can take to try and get your money back and help stop the people who scammed you. You should:

  • Stop all contact with the scammer. 
  • Report the scam to the job listing site where you received the message, as well as to the FTC.
  • Contact the company you used to send money to tell them the transaction was fraudulent and ask them to stop payment, reverse the charges or provide a refund. You might not get your money back, but it’s always worth asking.
On Care, you can block someone from contacting you again by clicking the upper right-hand corner of a message. [NOTE: This will not report the scam to Care; you should also separately report suspicious members.]

For more safety tools and tips, visit the Care Safety page.