Care.com Can’t Explain Why People Keep Texting Me To Babysit Their Kids

We’ve all gotten wrong-number calls and texts; some of us have even been on the receiving end of repeated wrong-number calls looking for the same person. But Consumerist reader Ed wants to know why his phone number is listed — twice — as a babysitter on Care.com, even though he’s (A) not a babysitter, and (B) never had an account with the site.

Unfortunately, Care.com has no good answers for Ed.

Babysitter Needed

It all started in mid-June, when Ed began receiving unsolicited text messages from people seeking a babysitter for their children.

The inquiring parents told Ed they found his number on Care.com — a site that lets users find a variety of caregivers, and a site that Ed has nothing to do with.

“People are texting me, thinking I’m a caregiver who has been vetted by care.com,” Ed told Consumerist via email. “I am not.”

Failure To Respond

Folks make mistakes, so maybe someone who does have a Care.com account was typing too quickly and inadvertently transposed a number. Seeking to resolve the problem, Ed tried contact Care.com to see about removing the erroneous listing.

That was apparently easier said than done, he told Consumerist. “I have attempted to contact them three times to fix the matter,” to no avail.

Shortly after first contacting the company, Ed says Care.com emailed him with a note that the site would remove the ad and his phone number. The only problem: He hadn’t yet given them his phone number, so how could they possibly know which ad to remove?

“I don’t recall providing my cell number in my original complaint submission on their web form,” he tells Consumerist. Even if Care.com had somehow been able to figure out his number, it didn’t matter as the errant messages persisted.

“I continued to receive texts,” says Ed, who sent a second email on July 3, but did not receive a response from Care.com

And because only paid Care.com members can see full posts on the site, and Ed wasn’t about to ante up for a membership, he had no way to know if his number had been removed.

“Even the listings you can ‘see for free’ have no way of searching by cell number,” he explains.

A Matter Of Trust

At that point, Ed felt the only thing he could do was inform the people who texted him about the issue.

“Received your text about child care services. I do not provide child care services and have attempted to notify care.com support three times on the matter without success,” he wrote back to potential clients. “Therefore I am contacting everyone who has contacted me to warn you that the site doesn’t seem to be concerned with the integrity and safety of its ads. I would be weary of using this site for your child care needs given that I have attempted to report someone has placed a fake ad with my phone number and they do not seem concerned enough to address this obvious security concern.”

His replies apparently lit a fire under Care.com. Ed says the site responded twice with apologies; this time they remembered to ask for his number.

Double Trouble

While Ed was waiting to make sure his phone number was removed from the site, we reached out to Care.com to find out how this issue could occur and why it wasn’t immediately addressed.

Jacalyn Lee, a spokesperson for the company, tells Consumerist that the issued ended up being a bit more complicated than one would think.

For starters, Ed’s number was associated with two listings on the site.

“It is possible that [he] continued to receive text messages after Care.com removed his phone number from one account because there was also a second account with the same number on file that we were not notified about,” she explains.

While the company says it doesn’t know why his number was connected to accounts that weren’t his, they say that both have been removed from the site.

No Verification Required

This entire scenario could have been avoided if Care.com verified the phone numbers listed on the site, and Lee says that Care.com users can choose to verify their phone number and email addresses. However, the company does not monitor this information or require that users verify their numbers.

“Once a post is created, we encourage all members to always use Care.com’s messaging service, including sending messages through Care.com instead of using personal email addresses,” Lee says. “This guards their privacy and allows us to monitor all electronic exchanges for suspect activity. That way, members only share their contact information if and when they feel comfortable.”

Lee suggests that if members are suspicious of any job postings, they can notify the Care.com Safety Team. This can be done by clicking the “Report” flag located in messages and job posts.

“Care.com takes reports from members very seriously and we want to know if members think a job post or message is spam, a scam or suggestive,” Lee tells Consumerist, noting that additional information can be found on the site’s Safety Center. 

Want more stories from Consumerist? We’re a non-profit! You can get more stories like this in our twice weekly ad-free newsletter! Click here to sign up.