How to Avoid Losing Money to a Care.com Scam

Here’s how to not fall victim to a Care.com scam involving a nanny job or caregiver role.

Care.com helps people in need of assistance connect with and hire caregivers. The site has grown into one of the world’s largest of its kind, but online scams and fraud are prevalent. Fraudsters are increasingly targeting individuals looking for nanny and babysitter jobs and other caregiver positions.

Learn who scammers target on Care.com and what the red flags are to avoid being scammed out of your hard-earned money.

Common Care.com Scams to Avoid

These are some of the most common Care.com scams to avoid:

  1. Nanny, babysitter or caregiver job scam
  2. Pet sitter job scam
  3. Moving-into-the-area scam
  4. Emergency-need scam
  5. Payments scam
  6. Phishing scam

The first five job offer scams involve an overpayment or advance payment using a fraudulent check, and all are variations of the same kind of scam. The phishing scam is used to gather information for identity theft. Keep reading to find out what these scams look like in detail so you can spot one before you become a victim.

Related: Avoid These 12 Scary Money Scams

Nanny Scam

This scam involves the fraudster posing as a care-seeker looking for a nanny, caretaker or babysitter. The individual contacts you, tells you their convincing and often sad story and asks you to provide your contact information. The person “hires” you on the spot — without an in-person interview — due to allegedly being out of town, tending to an emergency or preparing to move soon.

The fraudster sends you an overpayment or advance payment and instructs you to keep some money for yourself and use the rest for an errand they assign you. You also might be asked to deposit the check and immediately wire the excess amount to a third party to pay for a wheelchair or other medical necessity. In reality, the check is fake, and wiring the money before the check clears can leave you in the hole for the amount of the check.

Pet Sitter Scam

In this case, the fraudster allegedly has a pet that needs to be boarded, or the individual needs to have pet items purchased from a third party. Again, the fraudster pretends to send the overpayment for this purpose, but the check is fake, and the fraudster is the recipient of the wired money.

Moving-Into-the-Area Scam

Here, the fraudster claims to need an assistant prior to relocating. The individual sends a check with instructions for wiring the money in excess of your first week’s pay to hire a moving company, or using it to pay relocation fees or some other moving expense.

Emergency-Need Scam

This scammer sends you advance pay and might initially request that you hold the money until the individual’s arrival. But they follow up with an emergency need such as paying for an impounded vehicle, a medical procedure or a bail bond and ask you to wire the money immediately.

Payments Scam

The fraudster hires you to collect payments they’re unable to collect due to foreign regulations or bank trouble. You contact a “customer” to request payment and then take a percentage for yourself before wiring the rest to the fraudster. The customer and payment are fake, and so is the check.

Phishing Scam

Under the guise of wanting to hire you, this scammer asks for “application” information such as credit card or bank account numbers, full name and address, Social Security number, and other identifying information. Their aim is to steal your identity, pose as you, and use your bank accounts and credit card fraudulently.

How to Identify a Care.com Scam

These are common red flags that a job offer through Care.com is a scam:

  • Communications contain poor English grammar or misspellings
  • Overpayment or excess advance payment by check
  • Request for immediate wire of money
  • Inconsistent story
  • Offer is too good to be true
  • A sympathetic sob story
  • Unusual degree of urgency or impatience
  • No in-person interview

If you suspect a job offer is a scam, cease communications and report the issue to Care.com using the “Contact Us” link on the company’s website.

Read This: How to Spot an Investment Scam

Caregivers Can Be Scammers Too

Job offer scams are not the only kind perpetrated on Care.com. Caregiver scams are common, too. Fraudulent caregivers seek employment, win the employer’s trust, and gain access to the employer’s personal assets, accounts and information. They steal money, valuables and identities, charge thousands on credit cards, and empty bank accounts. Before hiring a caregiver or assistant through Care.com, follow these steps:

  1. Thoroughly check provider profiles, experience and certifications.
  2. Review the verified contact information and background checks Care.com lists for each candidate.
  3. Perform your own independent search of online profiles for the candidate.
  4. Read previous employers’ reviews of the individual.
  5. Require two to three community references.
  6. Conduct an in-person interview before hiring.
  7. Establish a trial period of employment, and drop in unexpectedly or get neighbors to watch and report on activity.
  8. Protect personal assets and information from the new hire.

Care.com provides a valuable service for care-seekers and caregivers, but unsuspecting users can fall prey to fraudsters. Do your due diligence to help you avoid getting scammed.

Up Next: 20 Tourist Scams to Watch Out for When Abroad