How to Avoid Online Scams & Safely Use Nanny Sites
Safety

How to Avoid Online Scams & Safely Use Nanny Sites

by Martha Scully

Online services like Sitter.com make finding jobs and caregivers easy, fast, and affordable but unfortunately there have been certain individuals who have misused these types of services in order to take advantage of people throughs scams and fraud.

In the process of online networking, we can inadvertently make ourselves targets for identity theft and scams. Is it possible to utilize the power of the internet without compromising ourselves digitally?

Fortunately by educating yourself on the information and tips below it is possible to protect ourselves from scammers and safely use nanny/babysitter sites.

Let’s take a look at some ways we can protect our identity, avoid scams and make hiring caregivers we meet through online services as safe as possible.

We’ll Cover 4 Topics

  1. Online Identity Theft
  2. Popular Internet Scams
  3. Nanny/Babysitter Site Scams
  4. Child Caregiver Background Checks

Online Identity Theft Protection

What is identity theft?

According to the United States Department of Justice, identity theft is defined as a “crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.”

How do we protect ourselves?

10 Ways to Protect Yourself from ID Theft

  1. Be mindful of your wallet, purse, credit and ATM cards.
  2. Be cautious about online merchants you don’t know.
  3. Keep your social security number and birthday private.
  4. Review your credit score regularly.
  5. Review your bank statements. Any weird activity?
  6. Shred your personal documents. Even at home (more on this later).
  7. Keep important documents in a safe or an area secured by lock.
  8. Keep an eye on all letters and personal mail. Don’t let anything linger in a mailbox.
  9. Make sure that your username and passwords are strong! In addition, avoid using the same username and password for every site.
  10. Avoid links in emails, where you’re taken to a web page and asked for sensitive information.

source: USNews.com

On Sitter.com (and every other site in the CareGuide family) your identity is protected by our propriety TELESAFE system. One of the benefits of TELESAFE is that it allows you to make phone calls, emails, and SMS texts to potential caregivers without revealing your phone number or email.

What about Internet Scams?

Get any emails from a friend in Nigeria lately? One the most infamous online scams in recent history is the Nigerian email scam officially referred to as advance-fee fraud by the US Department of the Treasury.

Long and short, you get an email from someone in Nigeria who has several million they need to transfer to you because their father got killed by some warlords. They send you the money and you keep a percentage.

What’s really happening is that you’re involved in a scam and the individual who sent the email is obtaining vital information pertaining to your identity.

In an interview with two professed Nigerian scammers, Mother Jones reporter Erika Eichelberger detailed how they targeted “lonely women with money to spare” after learning about them first through dating sites and social media then eventually through email correspondence.

Once they developed a friendship the requests would start. They would request that the potential victim send a portion of the money in advance. The victim doesn’t hesitate to do so because they believe they’re going to inherit several million and the feel bad for their new rich African friend because they just lost their father or family member.

sources: What I Learned Hanging Out With Nigerian Email Scammers- MotherJones.com, Advance Fee Fraud- occ.treas.gov

How about Scams on Nanny and Babysitter Sites?\

These scams don’t always involve emails from a stranger in Africa. A college student who signed up to become a babysitter on an online services site, found herself involved in a scam where she was paid in advance for work and required to send the balance to another party. Some time later, her check didn’t clear and the person she had been corresponding with actually asked for a small loan.

Source: ABC7News

Unfortunately, this type of scam is becoming more and more popular. A scammer that uses nanny and sitter job posting sites is after one thing only— tricking you into giving them money.

The Typical Babysitter/Nanny Scam

They tend to target job seekers. An online scammer will email or send a text message to a job seeker, stating they are from outside of the US or Canada and need service. They will send a few messages back and forth with you to obtain your information.

Once you’ve agreed to work for them, the scammer tells you they will send you a cheque or money order for an advance payment. Usually, this will be for more than the agreed amount, telling you the extra is for equipment or something similar. They will then ask you to deposit the money into your account, and send the rest of the money to another person.

What has happened is they’ve sent you a fake cheque or money order. By depositing it and sending the extra funds to someone, you’ve sent actual money to the other person, and you’re on the hook for the funds.

After some time, the bank will see that the money you deposited doesn’t exist and will remove the amount from your bank account, but you’ve already sent some of it on, and maybe have spent some of your portion.

So the bank turns to you for the missing money. This is called money laundering – turning fake money into real money.

Don’t expect something for nothing. The scam artists prey on your emotions and in the end, they have your money and you may find yourself in debt.

So, how can you avoid being scammed?

In-person Interview If an employer wants to hire you without meeting you in person or in a video chat, be extremely cautious. Never accept advance payments from anyone without meeting them first and being interviewed.

Secure and Monitor Communication By using communication system like Sitter.com’s TELESAFE all your communication is recorded and your contact information is kept private. The system deters scammers and protects your personal phone number, email address, and privacy.

Avoid People Who Want to Send You Money If someone is very keen on sending you money before meeting you, we can guarantee this is likely a scam! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! No legitimate employer will ask you for your banking information or give you money without meeting with you.

Contact the Online Service On Sitter.com we ask that if you suspect someone is a scammer that you contact us right away. Sitter.com takes reports on members very seriously, so we will make your report a priority. The online security of all of our members is very important to us.

In fact every profile on Sitter.com as a button stating “Please alert us if you think this is a suspicious profile” making it easy to report possible scammers and spammers.

More information on Nanny/Babysitter Scams visit Sitter.com Security Information

Caregiver Background Checks

Why does your nanny need a background check?

In a bizarre and unfortunate incident, one family found themselves the victim of identity theft after the nanny supplied an online service provider with a fake name in order to pass the background check. After she entered the home, she obtained sensitive information (place your private documents in a safe place) and purchased expensive items using stolen credit card information. The family blamed the service provider and later found out that the woman had provided them with false information; she actually had several warrants and a criminal history.

source: ABCNews

Sitter.com recommends that you perform background checks and make sure that the person is providing accurate information. There are many companies you can find online who can do this.

We suggest finding a site that provides a basic report covering

  • Social Security Number Trace
  • Country Criminal Records check
  • The Nationwide Sex Offender list.

Two recommended companies are BeenVerified.com and eVerify.gov.

Depending on your situation we highly recommend these additional background checks for any child caregiver

  • References
  • First Aid/CPR Verification
  • Swimming Level Verification
  • Driving Record
  • Education Verification

There are many services that can do some of the above screening for you here are a few

Background checks can be useful when we’re trying to determine whether or not a potential caregiver should really be working with children. Remember the background check, should be used in combination with other factors, including education, experience, your gut feeling and the candidate’s chemistry with your children.

More information on child care background checks:

Be Smart…

Being mindful of these issues will help us to develop a security conscious mentality, enabling us to be mindful of identity theft, scams and the people we let into our homes. Staying ahead of criminals and scam artist require us to use the internet with caution and intelligence.


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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of CanadianNanny.ca. Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.