Desperate Nannies, Desperate Measures

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Is your nanny who you think she is?

I mean, probably.

But according to the New York Daily News, Park Slope Parents has noticed a rash of “fraudulent” posts from job-hunting baby-sitter – nannies posing as their employers online, nannies creating and posting fake references, nannies arranging job interviews and sending friends in their stead. (“Cloak-and-dagger skills a spy would envy,” says the Daily News, suggesting that the Daily News has a very low opinion of the ingenuity of spies.)

Here’s what’s happening:

PSP rules are designed to prevent nannies and sitters from using the boards as a Craigslist alternative. Employers can post nanny recommendations and respond to help-wanted ads, but nannies and sitters themselves are prohibited from using the site to “troll” for work. The vast majority of the time, the rules work, and when they don’t, the breaches are caught by moderators.

In a very small number of cases, though, some sitters are finding ways to beat the system, as PSP founder Susan Fox warned parents in a recent memo.

The most basic option? A would-be nanny gets on the list by pretending to be in the process of moving to the area. In other cases, Fox has seen caregivers use their current employer’s name to join the site, and then post recommendations for themselves. And perhaps the gutsiest nanny-scam of them all: a nanny lines up a bunch of interviews and, after securing a job herself, lets a friend take over the rest using her identity.

Of course, on some level, none of this is all that surprising: a lot of nannies are sole providers without a lot of other options, and these are desperate times. Which doesn’t, obviously, make lying acceptable, though it does make it understandable.

Domestic Workers United — an organization dedicated to developing fair labor standards — acknowledges the problem, and is has been working with PSP to create community-wide standards which will, they hope, curb the problem (also: lots of other problems). In the meantime, though, Fox is asking parents not to gloss over the issue — “we’ve been dismayed at employers’ tolerance to breaches in integrity by their nannies,” she says.

So we’re talking about a tiny fraction of PSP action here, and an even tinier fraction of nannies. Still, anyone got any stories? If you’ve run into this, how’ve you handled it?

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