We use a number of filters to stop scammers from connecting with members, but unfortunately a few sneaky scammers still get through. From our experience, the following messages nearly always lead to a scam.
- “I’m overseas, but will be moving to your area soon.”
- “I’d like to pay you in advance to hold the job.”
- “Please send your address so I can send a check.”
- “My finance manager will handle payment and other expenses.”
- “If this employment opportunity is pleasing to you…”
Read on for more tips on how to protect yourself, your money, and your safety.
1. Only communicate with parents through Sittercity
Never give your personal email or cell phone number to someone you’ve just connected with on Sittercity. Plus, when you send and receive messages through our system, you have the added bonus of our software, which flags messages with language and signs associated with common scams.
2. Never accept money from someone you’ve never met
Seem fishy that someone in the UK wants to send you an enormous check for a month’s worth of babysitting, long before you even start the job? More than likely, it’s because a scammer is on the other end of the message. If a care seeker offers to pay you upfront, that’s a red flag.
Unfortunately, these scammers know you’re looking for a job and could use the money, which is why this scam is so common — and why we see many sitters cash these fake checks and get into sticky situations. Here’s a general rule of thumb (that consequently applies to most things in life): if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No one would pay you for work you haven’t done yet — these are fraudulent checks.
3. Never send money to someone you’ve never met
If someone wants to send you a big wad of cash for nothing, what harm could that do? The answer: a lot. You could get into trouble because part two of this scam is when the person asks for some or all of their money back. They may claim to have “accidentally overpaid” you and need you to wire a portion of the payment back to them.
Do not wire them money to compensate for what they overpaid. This is a scam and unfortunately banks have and will continue to accidentally cash fraudulent checks. Once your bank realizes the check is fake, you may have already sent money to the scammer — and now you’re out of your hard-earned cash.
4. Don’t release your background check to just anyone
Background checks contain extremely sensitive, scam-friendly information. If a Sittercity user you’ve never spoken with requests your background check, do not release it. If you’re never even communicated with this member, there’s no reason they need to see your background check.
5. Know what a scam looks like
Many scammers can be easily spotted based on their poor grasp of language or lack of clarity. If a job posting or communication with another Sittercity member makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s best to err on the side of safety and move on. Here’s what to watch out for:
- Misspellings: Sure, we all make mistakes and might have a typo here or there. But an entire email laden with typos is a bad sign.
- Grammatical errors: Again, one or two here or there is fine. But if the email is full of grammatical errors, the person on the other end may be a scammer.
- Foreigners claiming to be coming to the U.S. on special assignment: This is a common start to scam emails. Scammers use this story to rationalize the fake check scam detailed above. While it could be possible that an overseas family is starting their search for a sitter or nanny before they arrive, be extra careful when applying to these jobs.
- Inconsistencies: If the care seeker starts off the email as a proud parent of a young toddler boy, but ends the email with a five year old daughter, it’s from a scammer who has hurriedly sent several fake messages without getting their story straight. Parents don’t make those types of mistakes about their own children!
- Advertisements: A work-from-home job guaranteed to make you $100 an hour? While that certainly seems like it would be nice, move on. This job posting doesn’t belong on Sittercity, where we connect families and caregivers.
If you do suspect you’ve encountered a job posting that’s a scam, please notify Sittercity Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org so we may take action and prevent other caregivers from being scammed.