Is Care.com Safe?

Considering Care.com? Learn essential knowledge about dangerous scams, as well as critical tips to keep you safe while using the site!

By Corbin HartwickUpdated on July 14, 2024

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Before you use Care as either a careseeker wanting help or as a caregiver looking for a job, you’ll likely want to know how safe it is. After all, you’re asking relative strangers to take care of your family or property – or, conversely, stepping into a relative stranger’s home. So, can you trust Care.com? That depends on whether you’re talking about the service itself, or the people who use the service.

Is Care.com legit? Yes, but remember what it is and isn’t. At heart, it’s a job advertisement website for connecting careseekers with local caregivers providing the kind of care they need. It isn’t a full-service platform, though, so you’re going to have to take care of some details on your own.

Is Care.com safe to use?

Care is about as safe as other popular classified advertisement websites, if not more so. It runs background checks on all caregivers, and monitors use of its website for inappropriate conduct. It also has a built-in secure messaging system, as well as plenty of safety resources.

How safe is Care.com for careseekers & families?

Care is generally safe for careseekers and families. It requires all users who register as caregivers to complete a background check. In addition, it monitors user profiles and content for anything inappropriate, and offers a secure internal messaging system (though this is a feature only accessible through a premium membership).

For a fee, Care also offers families the option of running additional background checks on caregivers. However, careseekers still have to work out the particulars of vetting, selecting, interviewing, and ultimately setting the employment terms for caregivers. Care doesn’t directly help with this, though it offers plenty of resources to help guide careseekers (and caregivers) through the process.

How safe is Care.com for babysitters, nannies, and caregivers?

Care can be safe for caregivers, but maybe not as much as for careseekers. Care claims to screen careseekers for inappropriate profiles and content, but caregivers are still by-and-large responsible for following Care’s safety tips when applying for and working at jobs.

You can read more about Care’s legitimacy and safety in our Care.com review, or by visiting Care.com’s safety center.

5 common Care.com scams to look out for

Care has tools and resources to help both careseekers and caregivers avoid scams. These include background checks, an on-site messaging system monitored for inappropriate content, advice for putting together nanny contracts, and more.

Scams on Care tend to happen because most of the actual job negotiations between careseekers and caregivers take place outside the platform. In other words, Care can’t oversee every part of the hiring process. So it falls on the parties involved to exercise some due diligence in identifying and avoiding suspicious hiring or job application practices. Here are 5 common ones:

1. Job postings or applications that are too good to be true

Certain jobs will promise a high pay rate for a seemingly low amount of work. Conversely, some caregivers will promise to do a large amount of work for low pay. Be aware of the average pay rates in your area for different types of care (senior/adult care, child care, pet care, and/or housekeeping), and be very skeptical of jobs with pay rates that are significantly higher or lower.

2. Job postings or applications that involve sob stories

Some job postings or applications will involve unreasonable requests or unusually short hiring timelines. These may include things like skipping interviews or forgoing signing official contracts. A careseeker or caregiver will sometimes try to justify these through a story about an unwell family member or other set of unfortunate circumstances.

As much as you may want to sympathize with someone who’s (supposedly) in a dire situation, we remind you that your own safety must be your top priority. A heartbreaking tale isn’t reason enough for someone to ask you to agree to unsafe employment negotiations or unethical employment terms.

3. Hirings/applications that are rushed or involve limited contact

A common scammer tactic on Care is trying to apply or hire for a job without going through the proper motions. This includes trying to forgo interviews, especially face-to-face ones. A scammer may have an excuse for why they need to hurry the process or can’t meet with you, such as they’ll be moving to your city soon or they’re currently out of the country.

This robs you of time and information needed to make an informed decision on who to hire (if you’re a careseeker) or whether to move forward with accepting a job (if you’re a caregiver). So walk away from anyone who insists on rushing negotiations, or doing them sight unseen.

4. Offering / asking for pay in advance or other exchanges

The most widespread version of this scam targets caregivers. A careseeker will claim to be moving to an area soon, and that they want a caregiver to have certain necessary items ready at the house before they arrive (so they don’t have to store and move the items themselves). Often, they will send a check meant to cover the purchase of these items, with instructions to send back any remaining money. However, the check will almost always end up being fake. So the caregiver gets stuck buying items that may not actually be needed, giving away their own money to fraudsters, and potentially also having to pay back their bank.

For this reason, ignore any Care user who asks you to:

  • Pay or accept money in advance

  • Cash a check on their behalf

  • Exchange a check for cash, a wire transfer, or other form of untraceable payment

  • Purchase items to be used for the job on their behalf

Most of these problems can be avoided by refusing to hire for or accept a job – or exchange money or goods supposedly related to the job – before you’ve had a chance to interview the other party and negotiate a legally-binding contract.

5. Asking for personal information in advance

A careseeker or caregiver may ask you for your personal information (including your SSN or other government-issued ID number, a selfie, or even your financial information) in advance, supposedly in order to conduct a background check on you. Never accept these requests. Care already runs CareCheck background checks on all caregivers. In addition, careseekers should request any additional background checks on a caregiver through Care itself. This allows Care to direct the caregiver to a secure site where their personal information won’t needlessly be exposed.

Careseekers may eventually need personal and financial information from caregivers to arrange payroll and file taxes. However, caregivers should only give out this information after they’ve officially been hired. That means after they’ve interviewed with the careseeker to get to know them, and after they’ve negotiated and signed a contract to make their employment legally binding.

Top 10 safety tips for caregivers

Most negotiations between careseekers and caregivers regarding interviews, employment conditions, payment, and so on happen outside of the Care website, so incidentally, this is where most of the trouble happens. If you want to become a caregiver, it’s important to protect yourself and make sure you don’t fall victim to the common scams run through Care. Here’s how you do it:

10 safety tips for caregivers

  1. Read job postings carefully to ensure you fully understand what is being asked of you. Avoid jobs that seem too good to be true, or that feature unreasonable or suspicious requests – even if there’s a sad story behind them.

  2. If you’re interested in a careseeker’s job, search their social media accounts if possible, and look for other online information about them through a search engine. This will give you a better idea of who they are and what they may be like as an employer.

  3. If you have a premium caregiver account, use Care’s built-in messaging system to communicate with careseekers whose jobs you’re interested in. This avoids you revealing your personal email address, and allows Care to monitor communication for inappropriate content.

  4. Don’t share personal information (such as government ID or banking details) with careseekers until after you’ve interviewed with them and finalized a contract for your job, and only if it’s necessary for functions like payroll or taxes. If a careseeker insists on having this information upfront, take it as a warning sign for a scam and avoid them.

  5. Schedule meetings with careseekers beforehand to discuss the details, terms, and conditions of their jobs. If meeting virtually, use a free video conferencing tool that doesn’t require revealing your personal phone number, such as Zoom or Google Meet.

    If meeting in person (especially for the first time), choose a public place where there would be people around to notice or help if trouble starts. Or, if the careseeker suggests the meeting place, check it out beforehand to judge whether you’re comfortable with it or not. When the careseeker arrives, ask them for ID to ensure you’re meeting with the right person.

  6. Ask careseekers to draw up a legally-binding written contract for their job. The contract should cover your responsibilities, schedule, employment conditions, pay, holidays, and so on. You should discuss these details thoroughly with the careseeker before accepting a job.

  7. If you’ll be working at a careseeker’s home, ask if any other adults will have access to the property while you're there. Then research these individuals to decide if you’d be comfortable with them potentially being around while you’re there.

  8. Make sure at least one friend or family member knows where you are working and when. Also ensure they are made aware when these details change. Then, when on the job, always have a way to get in touch with your own emergency contact(s).

  9. Arrive early on the first day of the job, and come prepared with a list of questions regarding any important details you haven’t discussed with the careseeker yet. These include medical issues of people or animals you’ll be caring for, emergency contact details, where things are in the house, and any other ground rules.

  10. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask questions or look into it. If your suspicions aren’t cleared up, report a careseeker to Care, or call 911 if there’s an immediate threat or health problem.

Top 10 safety tips for careseekers & job posters

As a person learning how to hire on Care.com, you need to make sure you are bringing someone into your home that you can trust, and have done all the necessary checks and balances to keep your family safe. These are the top tips to help you achieve that:

  1. Review caregivers’ contact information and documentation (including ID, certification, references, and background checks) to ensure it’s all verified. It also doesn’t hurt to request hard copies of this information from caregivers when interviewing them.

  2. Read any reviews on a caregiver that have been left by other careseekers. They will give you an idea of what you should be aware of if you hire that caregiver, and will help you make an informed overall hiring decision. Just be sure to consider how reasonable the reviews are, in both their praise and their critique.

  3. If a caregiver has included links to their social network accounts on their profile, visit these if possible. You can also try looking for more information by plugging the caregiver’s details into a search engine. This will let you see what the person is like outside of Care.

  4. If you have a premium careseeker account, use Care’s messaging interface to communicate with prospective caregivers. This saves you from revealing your personal email address, and lets Care monitor communications for inappropriate content.

  5. If you have time (and money) and really want to ensure you make the right decision, request enhanced background checks on any caregivers you’re seriously considering. Better yet, look for caregivers who have already conducted background checks on themselves, and review the results of those checks (including how long ago they were performed) to make sure the person is on the level.

  6. Schedule remote meetings with applying caregivers beforehand. Use a free video conferencing tool that doesn’t require revealing your personal phone number, such as Zoom or Google Meet. This is a good opportunity to get to know caregivers without them visiting your actual home, and confirm they’re who you expect them to be.

  7. Once you’re having face-to-face meetings with frontrunning caregivers for the job, you should ask them for physical copies of their ID and qualifications. You should also ask them for contact details for references, so you can get in touch with those people and talk to them about how suitable a caregiver is for your job.

  8. You should also draw up a legally-binding contract that outlines the details of the job, including the caregiver’s responsibilities, schedule, employment conditions, pay, holidays, and so on. These should be discussed with all frontrunning caregivers when you interview them face-to-face, before you hire anyone.

  9. When you do finally hire a caregiver, ask them to show up early to the booking or first day (by at least 30 minutes). This gives you time to cover any final details they should know about, such as medical issues, emergency contacts, where things are in the house, and other ground rules. If the caregiver is looking after other people or animals, it also gives you a chance to watch how the caregiver interacts with them.

  10. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask questions or look into it. If your suspicions aren’t cleared up, report a caregiver to Care, or call 911 if there’s an immediate threat or health problem.

How to report a scam on Care.com

If you suspect a Care user is running a scam, or you have some other safety concern regarding a user, you can report them. Care’s safety team will review your feedback, get in touch with you if further information is needed, and take appropriate action if necessary.

  1. Go to www.care.com and log into your account.

  2. Find the user you want to report. There are several ways you can do this, including using the Search function, or going to your Inbox and selecting a message thread from the caregiver, or opening the main menu and selecting My Jobs and then the job the caregiver was hired for.

  3. If you find the user through your Inbox, you can select a message thread from them, then click the three dots (additional options) beside their name and click Report.

    Reporting a Care.com member from a message thread
  4. Alternatively, you can click a user’s name to open their full profile, then scroll until you see an option to Report Member and click it.

    Reporting a Care.com member from their profile
  5. Click in the text box labeled “Provide Additional Details Here” and write an explanation of why you believe this user deserves to be reported. Then click Send Report. Care will review your report and will contact you if further information is required.

    Writing a report on a Care.com user and sending it to Care.com

While there may be some stories out there about bad things happening on Care, most of them don’t have to do with the website itself. Instead, they involve people misrepresenting themselves or their situation outside of the website – which could happen with any job application website or classified advertisement website.

Recognize that there’s only so much Care can do to protect you, and study the resources the website provides to learn how to protect yourself outside of it. Do those two things, and you should be able to use Care safely.

You can also review all of our guides to Care.com to learn more about using the service, including how to cancel your membership or delete your account if any of the safety issues are concerning to you. You can also learn how to contact Care’s customer service team to help you deal with any issues.