If you choose to use an online service such as Care.com or Craigslist to directly hire a caregiver be sure to use the steps in our 15-Step Verification Process as well as take the following precautions:

1. Don’t believe everything you read. Verify everything that your prospective caregiver claims.

2. If someone is offering a really great deal, recognize that there may be a reason for this. Think about it. If the going rate for a babysitter in your area is $15/hr, why would someone only charge $10/hr?

3. Consider meeting a prospective caregiver at a neutral location instead of your home. Yes, it saves time to meet at your home, but when you’re hiring someone to care for a loved one, take the time to play it safe.

4. Bring at least one other family member with you. While you’re asking questions, this person is paying attention to the little things that you may not notice while engaged in a conversation. They can also simply offer a second opinion.

5. Step 3 above encourages you to get references but we want to elaborate on this. Calling references does not guarantee you’ll be able to weed out a less than ideal candidate, but it’s a place to start. A family member who’s serving as a reference is not the best one to speak for a candidate, but they can help in other ways. They can verify the information your candidate gives you (or not), they can steer you to other references (if you ask).

6. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – if someone seems like a great match, but in the back of your mind something tells you this is not a good idea, then it’s probably not a good idea. Most of the time, your gut instinct is right.