Dear DNB,

I keep hearing about nanny scams on social media. Is that an actual thing? How do they work?


Paranoid Parent

Dear Parent,

You’re actually not paranoid at all. Nanny scams have gotten SO bad. Part of the reason is that scammers are getting smarter.

Even the tech-savviest of parents are finding themselves on the wrong end of a scam. Here’s how it can happen to you:

1. You join a local Facebook group for parents and nannies to connect.

2. Another parent posts a glowing recommendation about her nanny:

3. The parents reach out to get the nanny’s contact info:

Note how the scammer uses urgency to get parents to act (“reach out to her ASAP … our inboxes are going crazy for her”).

4. The family contacts the nanny, who is wonderful on the phone. After a great in-person interview, the family offers the nanny a contract with the standard guaranteed hours, paid time off, and paid vacation days. Both parties sign.

5. The nanny impresses everyone her first week. She’s punctual, communicative, helpful, and engaging. The family is thrilled with their decision to hire her and pays her at the end of the week.

6. The Sunday before the second week begins, the nanny makes up an excuse for why she can’t come in on Monday. Usually it has something to do with someone being in the hospital. The family trusts her — after all, she was amazing that first week and addresses how badly she feels using paid time off so early on. They keep in touch all week. The family pays her, as she’s using up her paid sick days.

7. The weekend before what would have been her third week, she has more bad news. She was exposed to Covid at the hospital and can’t come to work until the following Monday. Again, she claims she’s so embarrassed to need more time off and promises she’s never this unreliable. It’s all just bad luck. The family is understandably annoyed, but the story checks out. They pay her for that second week.

8. The next Monday, the nanny doesn’t show up. The family texts and calls but they get no response. When they go to their Facebook messages to reach the person who recommended their nanny so enthusiastically, their account is no longer active. It’s in that moment that they realize: they’d been scammed. The mom who posted the original recommendation on Facebook was their nanny. She made a fake Facebook profile to pose as a family recommending herself, with the sole intention of taking advantage of generous families like theirs.

So again, you’re not paranoid. You’re informed.

To prevent a scam like this from hitting home:

  • If you can afford to, use an agency. Any reputable agency avoids scammers like this.

  • Never skip the background check. Scammers won’t give you their real information, so they’d run from a family that required one.

  • Don’t ever let a nanny provide their own background check results. It seems like an obvious tip, right? But scammers are smooth. Imagine if a nanny you clicked with said something like, “You’re totally welcome to run your own background check, but I actually have a copy of mine from a family I ended up turning down because they needed fewer hours. I think they ran it through a company called ClearChecks? Anyway, you’re welcome to run one on your own! The one I have is just from 2 weeks ago so I figured you’d rather save the money. Plus, I haven’t robbed any banks since then. 😉 Your call though!” Convincing, right?

  • Offer paid time off — just make sure it’s only earned after 30 days of work. Most scammers don’t have the patience to work a full 30 days before attempting the scenario above.

  • Cap the amount of time off that can be taken in a specific timeframe. Add to your contract: If Employee takes more than X days off within X amount of time, it’s grounds for termination.

The moral of the story here is that scammers aren’t always overtly sketchy. We all think we’re immune to scams until they happen.

Stay safe out there!


Ask DNB Team