When you hear stories involving identity theft, you normally visualize a fraudster hacking into computers to steal personal and account information. Another image that comes to mind is of a fraudster dumpster diving into trash cans to collect un-shredded documents containing sensitive information. However, fraudsters aren’t always sitting behind a computer or digging through your trash, thieves wear many hats, and one can be of a babysitter or nanny.
Working in identity theft protection, I am always hearing of new scams from our fraud resolution department, reading about them in industry publications, and learning about them from law enforcement.
A trending scam now is for fraudsters to post babysitter ads in Craigslist or newspapers because it’s an outlet that most people would not think of an identity thief using to try and steal identities. Also, many people assume there is no reason to be suspicious when you read a babysitter ad titled “Babysitter who loves to be around kids”. Furthermore, when you read an ad, you would never visualize a babysitter gaining your trust to take care of your child to then later steal your identity.
As was the case with one victim. I recently read an article where a lady had hired a live-in nanny through an ad she saw on Craigslist and provided the woman rent-free stay. What ended up happening is the nanny stole the victim’s identity and established credit cards with six different creditors tallying fraudulent charges of up to $62,000. As a result, the victim had to file for bankruptcy because she could not prove the fraudulent activities were not done by her.
What you can do: If you happen to be thinking of hiring a babysitter or nanny you find through a newspaper or Craigslist ad, it would be in your best interest and your child’s to perform background and reference checks. As a parent, you should take steps to avoid hiring people who “seemed nice” but turned out to have a criminal record or other sources of serious concern.