How to keep yourself and your family safe when hiring contractors

Local News

Experts recommend a healthy dose of suspicion, a dutiful Google search, and a run through the Sex Offender Registry.

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WROC) — Welcoming a perfect stranger into your home can be a nerve-wracking risk to undertake.

After a woman was raped earlier this week by a man she hired to help her out around the house, many in the community are wondering what they can do to keep themselves, their parents, and their children safe when hiring outside help.

Captain Michael DeSain of the Brighton Police Department and Ann Marie Cook, President and CEO of Lifespan, shared their safety tips for hiring strangers to be near you or your loved ones.

Cook tells us that summer especially can be scam-season for older adults. It’s a time to use extra caution when hiring contractors and aids. But, she says, Lifespan can help in the vetting process.

“Unfortunately, during this time of the year, we always see more scams of older adults with contractors and things like that, but this situation in Brighton obviously was a lot more horrific. So we’re telling older adults, please check, call the Better Business Bureau, Better Contractors Bureau,
[and] call here at Lifespan and we can help people vet the people that they may be hiring.”

Captain DeSain also recommends that older adults take advantage of Lifespan’s services and experts before letting someone new into their home. But regardless of your age, his first priority? “I would first and foremost, verify their identity,” he says.

DeSain’s next recommendation is to request references. “I would kindly let them know that in today’s world, I have an obligation to basically conduct some kind of background [check],” says DeSain. He says you should ask all potential hires, “Are you willing to offer personal references, names, addresses, and phone numbers of people that I could call that will verify and give me a positive reference for you?”

Cook also reminds people to take as much time as they need in the hiring process.

“We always tell people before they hire a contractor, to tell the contractor, ‘I have to vet this with a family member or friend.’ It gives the older adult time to think about it, it really gives them time to vet [the contractor], and make sure that this is above board.”

DeSain’s second recommendation is to request references. “I would kindly let them know that in today’s world, I have an obligation to basically conduct some kind of background [check],” says DeSain. “Are you willing to offer personal references, names, addresses, and phone numbers of people that I could call that will verify and give me a positive reference for you?”

The thing Captain DeSain feels is most important? A Google search.

He says to let potential hires know you’re going to Google them and check social media channels before making a decision. “I’d let them know honestly that I’m going to search social media, I’m going to Google their name, and do all this extra work to determine that they’re safe for my family.”

DeSain also wants people to know that asking for police background checks from those they may hire is an available option.

“You yourself can walk into any police department and say, ‘Hey, here’s my identification, do I have anything on file here?’ And we could give it to you, whatever that arrest maybe.” However, DeSain clarifies that individuals must request their own background checks; you cannot request one for someone you may hire, you must require them to get one themselves and provide it to you.

DeSain also clarified that when going the route of requiring police background checks, you will need to make sure they provide one from every police department, including State Police. This is why he suggests that a Google search coupled with a check of the Sex Offender Registry is the most effective option.

Lifespan will help older adults comb through potential hires with an expert for free. They provide this service in-person at their office, and over the phone. Lifespan will also come to you and conduct the vetting process in your home if you are unable to get to their offices. This service can help ensure older adults’ safety when hiring contractors or some extra in-home help.

Both Cooke and DeSain agree that research is the best tool in ensuring your safety. They both recommend that older adults take advantage of Lifespan’s services, and recommend all community members doing due diligence with a Google search before letting anyone you don’t know into your home.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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