A settlement In excess of $480,000 has been agreed by Care.com for misleading consumers over its background checks for caregivers. By way of restitution the settlement addresses the shortfalls in background checks for caregivers that fell far short of what families thought they were getting. Those that pay for peace of mind should receive what they pay for. The Assurance of Discontinuance also directs that Care.com ensures parents and guardians know exactly what they will be receiving when purchasing background checks for caregivers. The Attorney General’s office also confirmed the majority of misdemeanour records in Massachusetts are maintained by the District Courts, along with most felony records.
The Assurance of Discontinuance was filed in the Suffolk Superior Court. This resolves the Attorney General’s office claims that Care.com was in violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act when it sold those Massachusetts consumers specifically establishing background checks for caregivers. However it vigorously disputed that they were involved in wrongdoing and that the information on it’s site was materially misleading. The company also believed that families deserved to have easy access to background check data and that the data was affordable. What they offered allowed families to make informed and safer decisions when hiring. Consumers totalling 2,900 will receive $126,820 in restitution and $355,00 will be paid to the state.
The company assisted families searching for caregivers and that those families when paying for background checks for caregivers had search options. Those options were that its products (“Preferred” and “Preferred+”) included a report for the relevant “states and/or counties” that the caregiver was resident within the preceding seven years. However The Attorney General’s office alleged that the background checks were confined to The Massachusetts Superior Court records and that the checks did not routinely confirm criminal records from District Courts within the state.
As a condition of the settlement the company will now provide those consumers in Massachusetts more information around its products inclusive specific limitations. Limitations related to types of criminal records which are excluded, geographical reach and the type of court records to be searched. This information to be made available prior to Massachusetts consumers buying a background check. The company also agreed to providing extra information to consumers in relation to obtaining a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check. CORI is the central database of information for criminal records in Massachusetts. Those parents, families and consumers seeking a background check for caregivers may be eligible to obtain a more comprehensive review of criminal records via a CORI check. The CORI database differs from the Care.com background check in that results from all state courts within Massachusetts are returned.
Unlike the Care.com background check, the CORI system includes criminal record information from all state courts in Massachusetts. The CORI system also has specific models to assist families and parents to make informed decisions for home health aides and child care providers. The case was handled by The Consumer Protection Division along with The Child and Youth Protection Unit. A company spokesperson advised that around two years ago they had become aware of inconsistencies in its Massachusetts background checks. The company then notified consumers immediately by email and letter. It further amended disclosures and descriptions about background checks on it’s website.