Legal

Care.com Pays $1M Settlement Over Auto Renewal, Background Check Allegations

Care.com

Online babysitting advisor Care.com agreed this week to pay $1 million to two California jurisdictions that alleged the company failed to conduct background checks it promised and violated rules on auto-renewal of contracts, according to a news release.

The allegations against Care.com were by Marin County and San Francisco district attorneys’ offices, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a complaint filed by the Marin County District Attorney’s office, Care.com “failed to: sufficiently disclose that memberships were being sold on an auto-renewal basis; obtain their customers’ affirmative consent to auto-renewal terms; and provide a simple mechanism for customers to stop the recurring charges.”

In addition, the Marin County and San Francisco district attorneys addressed “the scope of sex offender searches” into caregivers, for which customers were charged a separate fee.

“In particular, the complaint alleged Care.com made false representations on its website that its background checks included a search of the National Sex Offender Registry, a database maintained by the FBI and accessible only by law enforcement, and that purchasers of Care.com’s highest and most expensive level of background checks were receiving a more robust background check than lower-priced offerings,” Marin County District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli said in a prepared statement.

The $1 million Care.com agreed to pay, according to Frugoli’s office, consists of $700,000 in civil penalties and $300,000 in restitution to customers who thought they were paying for the highest level of background checks. The company also agreed to disclose its policies more prominently and make it easier to cancel memberships.

A Care.com spokesman told Pymnts.com:

Care.com is committed to providing clear explanations of our services to consumers and believes it has done so consistently. We voluntarily made changes a number of years ago to address the concerns the district attorneys have voiced. We maintain that Care.com has always appropriately described the comprehensiveness of our products, including the automatically renewing nature of its subscriptions and that the background checks we have made available have always included databases of sex offender histories. Additionally, in 2019, Care.com introduced CareCheck, a required background check of caregivers that includes a review of the National Sex Offender Public Website, along with other criminal records searches.”

Care.com, which is based in Massachusetts, was acquired by IAC in February.

Late last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Care.com wasn’t following through on commitments to perform the most-intensive background checks of potential babysitters.

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