How NOT to Get Scammed in Your Nanny Job Search

You are a qualified nanny looking for a new position and a wealth of offers and job listings greet you! It seems simple to just pick the best salary or perk package and start the process, but a little diligence in checking things out in advance can save you serious money, time and effort in the long run. A good rule of thumb is that nannies should never pay out to their new employers (nor should they be paid before providing their services!), even those who are abroad and are finding it difficult to obtain their visa and are tempted to accept legal help in the US… for a fee.  However, some scammers are more subtle than just asking for money.

Here are some red flags to look out for and ways to separate nanny job fact from fiction.

It’s a Two Way Street

In any job, the employee has to be as comfortable with her employer as her employer is with her. In nannying, this is even more important. Because of the personal nature of the job, it’s entirely normal to request a list of references from prior nannies or household employees. Contact the individuals to ask how things went. If the family isn’t willing to provide references and contact information or acts as if they are shocked by the question and attempts to embarrass you into dropping the request, drop them from your list instead.

Check Their Check

If you respond to a nanny ad with fabulous perks and a high salary and are quickly hired with little to no interviewing or effort, consider this a red flag. It could be a difficult environment to work in (and they are desperate), or it could be a familiar scam in action. If your hiring process involves their sending you a check for your services in advance, be even more suspicious. This is often followed shortly thereafter by an emergency request that something unexpected popped up, so would you mind forwarding a portion of the funds to a third party ASAP to help? Meanwhile, the bogus first check is in the process of bouncing at your bank, costing you both fees and whatever portion of the funds you sent your fake employers back.

Repeat Offenders

Google is your friend. A 20 second move of copying and pasting the ad into Google will show where and when it ran before. Obviously, if a nanny ad for a private family appears every other month, or even every three to six months, it’s a red flag. Either this is an impossible work situation if the repeated ad is periodically run, or it could be a straight scam. Also, check if the same ad runs in newspapers or Craigslist postings in different regions across the country. No family needing childcare is bouncing around that much.

Protect Your Identity

You might think that as long as you don’t fall for any financial hits or dodgy ads that have you meeting in private, you can’t be risking much. However, not taking the time to really check out your potential new employer can cost you something even more valuable than a few hundred dollars: your identity. Make sure the position is legit, that you have met your employer prior to accepting the job or that you have an objective party (of your choosing, if long distance) meet and check them out before you send over your social security and personal information for “tax reasons”. While you will need to fill out these forms for a legit job, as household employees are to be legally paid within the system, it’s important to make sure you know who you are handing off sensitive information to first.

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9 thoughts on “How NOT to Get Scammed in Your Nanny Job Search

  1. do you think it’s ok to run a background check on a potential family? if so, how do you approach the family about it?

  2. People who try to scam nannies – and really anyone!! – looking for a job should be ashamed! You shouldn’t toy with people’s careers like that! Great post :)

  3. it’s amazing how many people out there will try and scam the innocent! great reminder to vigilant during a job search!!

  4. It’s so easy to want to believe the best about the people we interview with, especially when it’s a job that has amazing perks! You can never be too careful though. Thanks for posting.

  5. The Better Business Bureau offers these tips on avoiding childcare scams:

    • Be cautious if a “parent” wants to communicate only via text messaging or emails. He or she might be trying to hide a foreign accent or withhold a phone number.

    • Look out for emails or texts containing poor English or grammatical errors.

    • Be wary of anyone who is hesitant to give out personal information, such as place of employment, address, names of friends or other references. He or she might be fearful of a potential employee checking out his or her background.

    • Beware of “sob stories” or anything else that appears to try to get sympathy.

    • If a potential employer or employee asks you for money for any reason, it is likely a scam. Never transfer money to anyone you do not know.

    Of course the best way to avoid scams is to use a reputable nanny agency. For nannies, an agency will match you up with a trusted family that will be the best fit for you and the family. For families, an agency will do pre-employment screening, background checks, check references, conduct face-to-face interviews, and many other services to ensure your family’s safety and satisfaction.

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