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.
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.