Care.com

Tiffany Smith @TiffanySmith

Care.com and Scams: How to Avoid Babysitting Scams

Protect yourself when you're looking for a nanny, babysitter or caregiving job.

Unfortunately, online scams and fraud are becoming more common. And among those that fraudsters are targeting are nannies, babysitters and caregivers.

Online safety is extremely important to us at Care.com. So here are several tips to help prevent this from happening to you, and to help make sure that your job search is both safe and productive.

Scams That Have Initiated Through Care.com

There are two main types of scams that are prevalent on the Internet: the “overpayment scam” and the “pay in advance scam.” They're very similar and usually go something like this...

A scammer poses as an employer and attempts to trick you into sending money. Typically, the employer reaches out via text message with a job offer that seems too good to be true.

Once you reply, the scammer may ask you to buy a needed item (like a toy or wheelchair) or claim they're relocating and want to pay you in advance.

After you share your full name and address, the scammer sends you a check (often for a large sum of money) and requests that you cash it and wire a portion of the money back to them. They may tell you to keep the rest.

But here's where the scam comes in: the check is fake. Unfortunately, you often don't learn that until it’s too late -- after you've already sent a portion of the money back to the scammer, which you're then responsible for repaying to the bank, as well as additional fees associated with this type of fraud. In some cases this can amount to thousands of dollars of lost funds.


6 Signs It's a Scam

Here are some clues you were contacted by a scammer:

  1. They Use Odd Language
    Keep an eye out for messages with excessive grammar or spelling errors. Messages from scammers are often full of them. An occasional typo is no big deal, but an entire message of them is a red flag.
     
  2. They Complicate Things
    In the overpayment scam, you might think: "Well, why didn't they just write two checks? That would have been easier!" Listen to your gut. If they sent a check to your home, they can just as easily send a check to the store.
     
  3. They Have a Very Sympathetic Story
    Most of us want to help people and so we offer assistance in any way we can. Don't let a "sob story" affect your judgment. If something seems off, it usually is.
     
  4. Their Information Changes
    Keep an eye out for lies and varying information. For example, a scammer may tell you the names of their "children", but if they're scamming many people, they may mess up. If the person tells you they have two boys, James and John, one day and their names are Peter and Paul the next day, it's probably a scam.
     
  5. They Stick to the Script
    Many scammers use the same email format (there's usually a chain of emails and they stay with that chain), so try to throw them off by asking detailed questions about the job. If they completely ignore your reply in the next email and re-send the instructions again, you know you're dealing with a scammer.
     
  6. They're Impatient
    Scammers become more and more impatient and just need a confirmation that everything has been done. They just want to scam you and move on to the next person. If the person is becoming overly antsy or anxious, back out of the job.

 

8 Tips for Staying Safe

Here are a few ways to protect yourself when using Care.com or other online services:

  1. Communicate Through Care.com
    Use the monitored messaging system on Care.com when talking with a potential employer, rather than relying on text messaging or your personal email address. This guards your privacy and allows us to monitor all electronic exchanges for suspect activity, enhancing our ability to remove fraudsters from the site.
     
  2. Don't Give out Personal Information
    Be cautious of providing your social security number, credit card or bank account number to anyone. Care.com will only ask for your social security number when performing a background check. We'll only ask for your credit card if you sign up for premium services. The information will only be used in secure transactions, and Care.com will never call you for this information.
     
  3. Avoid People Who Mention Money
    Don't reply to any text messages, emails or phone calls from a potential employer who requests that you cash a check, send a money card, purchase an item or wire money.
     
  4. Don't Accept Money
    Never accept a check, money card or money wire from an employer you haven't yet worked for or met in person.
     
  5. Don't Send Money
    And don't offer to send a check, money card, or money wire for them either.
     
  6. Don't Accept Extra
    If you're paid by check or money order, only accept payment for the exact amount that you agreed on with your employer.
     
  7. Have an In-Person Interview
    Before you accept any job, always meet the family or individual. Make sure your interview is in a public place and ask to see an ID so you can confirm who you're meeting with.
     
  8. Be Wary of People Relocating
    Some potential employers may legitimately be moving and looking for a caregiver. But be careful. Watch out for messages from people who are “Moving to Your Area” or “Relocating". Delay accepting a job until you can have an in-person interview and don't accept any type of advance payment.


What to Do If You Think You're Being Scammed

If you have suspicions about a job or prospective employer, let us know! It’s simple: just click the “Report” flag in any message or job post. If you receive a text message or email from someone you believe to be a scammer, stop communication with them immediately and email our Member Care team by going to our Contact Us page and choosing “Report a Safety/Fraud Concern”.

We take reports from our members very seriously and work hard to respond quickly. When Care.com becomes aware of information regarding a member or prospective member that we believe makes them a potential danger to our community, we promptly remove them from our site and notify anyone with whom we know they’ve had contact.

If you've already been in touch with someone and think it may be a scam, stop all communications with the scammer. Don't reply to any emails and hang up your phone if they call you. Print any email exchanges and visit your local police station. These emails are useful because they can show a pattern for the scam and can be re-printed to educate others to avoid this type of scam. Scams should always be reported because the police will be able to tell how widespread the problem is depending on where and when they're getting the complaints. If the number of reports spikes, police will use the knowledge of all of the complaints to track the scammer.

Finally, when using you're using the Internet, avoid any offers that sound too good to be true -- they probably are.

For more helpful information about staying safe, check out Care.com's Safety Center.

 

Tiffany Smith is the director of content and publicity at William Woods University. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And, as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

27 comments

Oldest comments are listed first

  • I have received several text messages from scammers the past few days, at least 5 now, and I am afraid it wont stop. I took my number off of care.com but I feel that I am in some sort of scam chain letter system. any suggestions on getting out of it? They are both pet sitter scams and babysitting. Two of which asked to send me a check and wanted personal information.

  • I have received 2 text messages about jobs and I never put my phone number on care.com. I am worried about this.

  • I have received 2 scam text, and I believed one of them and sent my address to them ((((( I'm so dumb)))) but forgive me for the trust I gave, what do I do?????????? HELPPPPP!!

     

    I never thought on care.com this could happen and that's why I believed them... OMGGGEEEEEEE

  • 9/30/16

    Please be careful out there. Listen to your intuition. If a contact asks you for personal information, do not give it to them, communicate only through CARE.COM until you meet the contact in person in a public place. My son just got scammed in Sacramento, CA through a fake dog walking job. He has been sent a cashier's check (FROM WASHINGTON DC) for over $3800. (FOR WALKING A DOG???) with the promise that he can keep $400. and the rest goes to supplies. THAT IS A LOT OF DOG FOOD. The fake lady, whose CLAIMS HER name is JOY RYAN, now claims to be HARD OF HEARING (ha! wait till I yell at her!) and now has HER BROTHER AS THE CONTACT FOR MY SON. They are supposed to meet in downtown Sac at a McDonald's next week. SMELLS FISHY BECAUSE IT IS!! 

    They've been reported to the FBI, the bank and now you. 

  • So I am suppose to met with a family today for an interview.  I spoke with the mom yesterday, she seemed really nice and the job appeared legit.  She emailed me last night asking if we can meet today at her house and to bring a copy of my CPR card, my SS card, and my drivers license.  Im not sure why she would need my social security card on an interview.  Does this seem weird to anyone?

  • I have the same problem I have two suspects scam the first was a story now I'm resiviendo mail messages to my family job to be moved to my neighborhood.

  • as I can report these people. they send many messages often to my email

  • just got an attempted scam, first it was a text saying they got my number off care .Com , which I didn't put my number on there, but I didnt think about that until later, was given an email address to inquire about a supposed job, long story short the name was Heather Raffety, from Puerto Rico relocating here and wanted to send me money for first weeks pay and money to purchase them household supplies and food before arrival . I thought it was legit bc they were sending a check until I read about these types of scams. I emailed them again declined the job, and suggested they were trying to scam me .. haven't heard a peep since ..

  • My story is much similar to Tiffany accept they said they were from Australia & the name they use was Tiffany Darrow was paying $35 an hr to see about her mother n law & how they would be in sc in nov & wanted me to order groceries once they sent me a check in the mail to pay me for first 2 wks & use excess money for food then turnt around & said dats ok about grocery they got Intouch with one of the managers & he will order grocery for them all I have to do is cash my check within 24 hrs to make sure it cleared & then go pay manager with extra cash after that I said no way & told whoever it was I would like to meet n person they never responded bk

  • What did you guys do when this happened? This just happened to me and I'm worried about what could happen. I got a text saying to reply to an email. They said they are sending a check. Should I bring it to the police? Can they track anything? The email, text, even the certifies check? Anyone who has had this happen and knows the next step to take would help me out greatly. Why does there have to be bad people who take advantage of caring people like us?

  • Omg I never knew there was scamming in babysitting / nannying I almost got scammed recently till I told my family about it they sent me a check but I'm going to the police station now.

  • I need help ASAP!!! Does care.com send out text messages telling care gives that same one is in need of mt services????

  • care givers that someone* My*

    sorry for the typos 

  • what happen if you apply for a babysitter job and they answer your application and they want your phone number to discuss about the job. Should I give them my number or should I ask to meet in person first.

  • I had one person pretend they were deaf and moving to my city.  They needed COD for delivery of a wheel chair for$2700.00 and wanted to send me a check and pay me $250.00 in advance.  I have been a CNA for over 16 years and gave them the name of a local medical supply and told them that was too expensive for a regular wheel chair.  They said they wanted that one.  This turned out to be a scam.

    Also there are some that have multiple listings with just a little wording difference:

    James F.:I need a live-in home care provider experience for my mother in her 80s.

    James F.:CAREGIVER WANTED For live-in home care to take care of my 86-year-old mother in the Berkeley Hills with mental capacity but wheelchair bound. $4000 a month salary that includes free private apartment in the Berkeley hills with cable tv, high speed internet, private bathroom and shower with bath tub.

    James F.:We need companion care for 7 days a week to take care of my mother in Berkeley.

     

    All 3 of these listings are for the same person with just little differences.  I applied to all of them and not one responded.  I reported them to care.com and unfortunately they are still up for posting.  These are just some of the scams that are being used.

  • From my previous comment, "Heather Raffety" began contact on 11/30/2016

  • I was contacted by "Heather Raffety" from Puerto Rico with the very same story the person above was.  I am in Florida.

  • I was also contacted by Heather Raffety in Georgia

  • Public announcement: 

    Katherine Guion is a con artist and a scammer. She is very diplomatic and lots of charisma 28 years old. Well, she fooled us. She told us she worked for a family that moved to Gemany.  We hired through nannies4hire.com in November 2016. She just took off and left us and the kids on 11/15/2016 took checks, our credit cards. She she was living with us. She ordered many things  and use our credit cards to buy things and sent them to her home in Norfork, Virginia. We have reported her to police in Forsyth Coutnry, Georgia. 

  • I answered a request for tutoring from Joannette-Urquhart N. in Aug 2016 and heard nothing. Recently (Dec. 24, 2016) received tutoring request from her - I responded with my email address. Then received alert from care.com that she was removed from site for possible fraud. We continued to email - her grammar and sentence structure became rougher. Long story short - our many emails followed the pattern in the above suggestions from care.com. She is going to pay in advance, I'm then to send share of money her financial advisor sends to me to nanny, etc. All at once last night I thought "scam" and looked up this site. Her info followed almost all the alerts listed above. Of course I am withdrawing from our "agreement".

    I have had many excellent tutoring jobs from this company, but am going to follow care.com suggestions from now on.

  • This is a email from a scammer from care. com. Thank you Care. com for letting me know & for keeping a watch out on these scammers. The scammer stated that they were taken out of care. com due to downsizing and his subscriber being expired & didn't want to renew it. He said his name is Mr. Evan Clayton on his 1st message but on his 2nd email below here is Mrs. Evan Clayton. Care. com took him off & let me know about it. Here is the scammer email to the caregiver position I applied for today. I hope it will help someone. Thanks!

  • Sorry I had posted the scammer's email on community if you're interested. It doesn't fit in here.

  • I am so glad you sent this article out, it is hard to understand how people can do this! I had someone contact me moving from Canada, stating they would send me a check to go grocery shopping and buy things for their home, when I asked them where an how they got my number an name they totally ignored the question. Moving here Jan 27th. Stay safe out there!

  • Scammer's name Steve Rowland wife is Samanth.

  • Sadly after reading these comments I think I will choose not to continue to seek employment in this manner.

  • Wow, that's just crazy. Life goes on, I guess.. Lol.. @Kim

  • I am just wondering how these scammers get to know our contact numbers and the message says ' care team' as the sender. They even use God as a way to entice you. I got all those tricks mentioned in care.com guide and warnings regarding scammers i.e help seekers has yet to come from other countries and offer a so good to be true for per hour service fees.. and or saying that you'll be purchasing in advance a wheel chair using the check to be issued in your name so as to be ready of what the senior in need of care would be using once they arrive in the area.

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