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Safety for Sitters

Protecting yourself is just as important as keeping kids safe

If you’re a babysitter or nanny on the hunt for your next job and you want to connect with new families who are looking for someone like you, the Sittercity community is the perfect place to start. But it’s important to keep safety top-of-mind throughout the process of finding that perfect job. When initially connecting with families, keep in mind that background checks are not run on parents, so be sure to always communicate through the Sittercity website and never give your last name, personal e-mail address, home address, phone number, place of work or other identifying information. Stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for personal or financial information and notify member services immediately. Once you have connected with a family that looks like they could be a good fit, take precautions including the following to protect yourself and help you make safe decisions.

In-person safety: how to stay safe during the interview process and on the job

Prepare for the interview

Every Sittercity job is different because each family has different needs and expectations. Before you interview with a parent, think through tasks and duties you’re okay with doing. Establish your limits, identify your boundaries in advance, and don’t compromise on any duties you don’t want to do. If you feel like a family might be asking too much of you, you can always find another job that’s a better match.

Use your intuition during the interview process

Before you meet a family, arrange to speak with them on the phone. Remember, you’re just not being interviewed for a job, the interview process also helps you determine if a particular family is a good fit for you. If after the phone interview you don’t think you could see yourself working for this family, it’s okay to move on. But if the first conversation goes well, you can arrange for a more in-depth interview at a coffee shop, park, or another public place with other people around. Always provide your own transportation and tell someone in your family or a friend where you are going and when you will return. And if a parent wants to hire you without meeting first, politely decline—that’s a red flag.

Stay safe on the job

Before you start a new job, tell your friends and family all about it. Be sure to share where you’ll be working, what your hours are like, and how they can get in touch with you should anything come up. Remember the list of boundaries you made before your interview? Keep them in mind. Stick to your limits. If a parent asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable, politely remind them of the discussion you had during your interview. “Sorry Sarah, I can’t prepare a PB&J for Dana because of my nut allergy.”

Remember, “If it seems too good to be true…”

You know the saying. If a parent or job posting makes extravagant promises about payment or hours, be wary. There just aren’t many legitimate care jobs offering $500 an hour, plus your own expense account.

Cyber safety: how to protect yourself from online scams

If you spend any time online, you’ve probably come across an Internet scam or two. (Heck – you may have an email from a foreign prince waiting for you right now!) Every so often, a scammer weasels their way onto Sittercity. Read through the following tips and warning signs and let us know immediately if you see something that raises red flags so we can take appropriate action.

Communicate through Sittercity, not your personal email or by text

By keeping your communication on Sittercity, you can benefit from our technology that scans messages, looking for language and signs associated with common scams, so we can catch them before they get to you. Using our messaging system also prevents members from using your personal email for anything else besides discussing a Sittercity job (like spam, for example).

Learn to recognize common scams

“I want to pay you upfront.”

No legitimate employer will want to pay you for work you haven’t done yet!

Here’s how this scam works: a parent will offer you a job, plus advance payment. They’ll claim it’s a sign of their “good faith” and how they’ll prove they’re truly interested. If you agree, you’ll receive a fake check. When you’ve deposited this check (and it will look authentic, but trust us — it’s not), they’ll suddenly need you to wire some or all of the money back. They’ll either claim to have accidentally overpaid or say they can’t hire you after all. By the time your bank realizes your check isn’t legit, you’ll be out of your hard-earned money

“My husband is a cruise ship captain.”

Certain phrases and storylines are almost always a scam. If you notice any of the following references in an email regarding a job, don’t even bother with a response. But please notify us so we can take appropriate action:

  • Cruise ship (“My husband is a cruise ship captain.”)
  • Foreign Countries (“I am a film presenter/producer based here in west Africa.”)
  • Fashion boutique/textile importing (“I own a fashion boutique.”)

“We live in your local area.”

If you get an email claiming the parent lives in “your local area” or will be moving to or visiting “your local area,” proceed with caution. Because scammers are mass-producing these grammatically suspect e-mails, they don’t usually bother to tailor their pitch to sitters in different locations.

“You can work from home on the computer.“

If you come across a job posting about mystery shopper or working from home “on the computer,” report them right away. Sittercity is a site for families to find child care, not a place to advertise for mystery shoppers.

“Get rich quick!”

You’re finding a new job, not winning the lottery.

“Please contact me via email or text right away.”

For your own safety, we monitor all messages sent through Sittercity for the scams mentioned above. Scammers know this, so anyone who encourages you to contact them off the site immediately to discuss job details may be questionable. Once you’ve established a relationship with a family, you may feel comfortable communicating with them directly by email or text.

Bottom line: Report anything that seems unusual.

We put the safety and security of everyone in the Sittercity community first. Don’t hesitate to report any emails or job postings that seem suspicious. It’s the best way for us to improve your experience and keep our community safe. We continuously screen members and job postings, but we can do an even better job with your help.

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