How to Spot a Fake Nanny Reference
It’s important to conduct thorough background checks to make sure your potential nanny is both fully qualified and competent enough to....
It’s important to conduct thorough background checks to make sure your potential nanny is both fully qualified and competent enough to look after your little ones. But, in an attempt to cover up a bad experience with a previous employer or to appear more experienced than they actually are, some nannies will fake their references, either by writing their own reference or asking a friend to pretend to be a parent on the phone.
The statistics are scary and we know that not every parent has the luxury of having an agency screen nanny services for them. As a parent, you’ll have a rough idea of what your child’s routine is like when you’re not there, based on reports from family members and any previous nannies you may have had. Naturally, if the referee can’t go into detail about what their children’s routines are, the alarm bells in your head should start ringing.
Fake nanny references tend to list out responsibilities, typically describing a normal day with little to no detail about each activity. Spotting them is very important, so you can ensure that your children are cared for by only the best nannies.
To see exactly what we mean, here’s an example of a written reference :
If you do stumble across a nanny reference like this, we recommend chasing them up via phone call and asking for specific details. If the parent only states the obvious - for example, the child woke up, played for a bit, watched some television and then had lunch - ask them to go into detail. For example, do you have restrictions on screen time, and did the nanny adhere to them? These are basic questions that are asked about all types of nanny services. If there’s an obvious hesitation or the referee starts to get flustered, you know that this is not a real parent and that you’ve caught them in their lie.
Details like this can determine whether or not the nanny reference is fake. Not only can you tell by how they answer - as mentioned above, it is highly unlikely that a parent would get the year their child was born wrong - but also in how they react to each question. With detail-specific questions, if the referee needs to stall for time it’s likely they’ll ask you to repeat the question or will say they can’t hear you. If they’re really stuck, sometimes they’ll just hang up!
When it comes to asking for details, ask them to confirm things like birthdays, start dates, what year they’re in at school, etc. Some parents may be a little reluctant to give out personal information about their child at first, but will nonetheless be able to answer confidently, perhaps saying August 2015 rather than 8th August 2015. With questions like this, confidence is key.
Lying about the length of placement is usually the result of a nanny trying to claim that they’re loyal, committed and able to stick around for a while. Spending a long time in one placement also justifies asking for a higher salary, as it shows they have had experience working with children over a long period of time.
While there are nannies and even maternity night nurse out there that have had long placements, there’s nothing wrong with looking into this. When you first speak to the referee, make sure you double check the dates, asking what the nanny’s schedule consisted of on a day to day basis and how it changed over the years as the children got older. Similar to the points above, try to get as much detail out of their responses as possible.
Another thing to keep an eye out for when reaching out to long-term former employers is how they would like you to contact them. After working together for so long, it’s highly unlikely the nanny would lose contact with the family altogether.
At this point, we recommend using the email address provided to ask for a phone number, so you can arrange a phone call. Question the length of the message they send you - this one would have taken approximately five minutes to type out, long enough for them to say the same thing in a verbal reference. If they ignore your requests to speak over the phone, much like this referee did, odds are you're dealing with a fake.
We touched on this briefly in the point above, but this is a big red flag. Even if you have a phone number, sometimes the referees will not pick up, choosing to email or WhatsApp you instead.
The first place to look if you suspect something is in their written references. How do they write? Is the referee’s writing style similar to the nanny’s? How do they describe the nanny? One way to check the facts is to look up the parents on LinkedIn. Does the email address on their account match the one the nanny has given you? Does their position and location match up to what you’ve been told by the nanny?
The next red flag comes if the parent is reluctant to schedule a call, or can only call at a specific time on a specific day. It’s entirely plausible that the parent has a hectic schedule and needs to set aside some time, but it’s worth pushing for that phone call to investigate your suspicions. Look out for their excuses; if their excuse seems too generic or completely false altogether, it’s worth examining further.
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