Let us start by saying--- the overwhelming majority of nannies and house cleaners are honest, trustworthy, and reliable. We start with that fact since listing situations where people are less than honest may make these situations seem more common than they are.
However, if you are going to have someone in your house, whether it's a cleaning person, nanny, or other home improvement person, make sure to do your due diligence.
Here are different ways to do this:
1) Get two (or more) recommendations for any person who you will have in your house on a regular basis. PSP spoke with Jerry Galante at the 78th precinct who emphasized the importance of double checking references for people recommended online where there is more scope for fraud.
2) Ask for at least one form of identification from the person. Tell the person before they come to your house that you'll expect it). Scan it for your records. If the person is not willing to provide it (or says, "they forgot"), then don't hire them.
3) Ask for an emergency number for the person. It could save their life or could help you track down a problem person.
4) Keep access to your apartment limited and inventory your keys. If you can have a neighbor/friend/super let in a cleaning person, do this rather than giving out your key. Even if your cleaning person is trustworthy, if your key falls into the wrong hands the consequences can be costly.
5) Keep valuables out of site. Don't invite tempatation.
6) Mark your valuables (use a police engraver when possible). The NYPD has an Operation ID program where they will lend you their engraver.
7) Lock things in drawers/ safe if you need to. We are all nosy creatures, so keep confident material (bills, papers, documents) out of sight.
8) Don't keep loose change or small bills laying around
9) Do random spot checks. Come home (or to a class, or the park) at times the nanny is not expecting it.
10) Conceal prescriptions. If you have medications that are re-sellable, consider buying a small box with a lock to store prescription medications. At the very least keep them out of sight.
11) Avoid using help/ companies that are not insured. If an accident happens or a theft occurs while they are there, an insured service will assume responsibility. If you hire help isn't insured then the responsibility will lie on your as the homeowner.
- Don’t shrug off that uneasy feeling. Do trust your instincts if you feel something isn’t quite right. Investigate until you feel that you are satisfied. Even people we trust can turn out to be deceiving us.
- Always be nice, polite and courteous.
- Small acts of kindness can go a long way: even a "thank you" on a post it or a small token from a recent family vacation, or first dibs on hand me downs - these little gestures mean a lot
- Check in with you house cleaner to make sure she/ he everything they need to do their job.
- Pay well and don't cut costs.
What to do if you catch your nanny/ housekeeper stealing:
Talk to your local NYPD Precinct Community Affairs Officer. They can help guide you through your options if you run into issues related to criminal activity.
Further Reading on the web:
13+ things your house cleaner won't tell you
What you Need to Know About Hiring and Paying House Cleaners