SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A website that connects users with babysitters, caretakers and pet-sitters will pay $1 million to settle a consumer protection lawsuit jointly brought on by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli.
The settlement involving the two Bay Area prosecutors and Care.com was announced Monday.READ MORE: Oakland Resumes 'Bulky Block Party' Trash Disposal Events To Stem Illegal Dumping
The suit alleged the Massachusetts-based company falsely represented its purchased background checks for service providers by claiming the checks included a search of the National Sex Offender Registry. The registry, however, is only available to law enforcement agencies and not third-party sites like Care.com, prosecutors said.
Additionally, the suit alleges Care.com unlawfully enrolled its customers in auto-renewal subscriptions without getting customers’ consents and without providing disclosures of the subscription as required by law.
“By misrepresenting their sex offender background checks, Care.com gave families a false sense of security about the stranger they were inviting into their homes,” Boudin said in a statement. “That practice will end immediately and consumers will be better off because of that.”
“Choosing the right caregiver for a loved one is one of the most important and stressful decisions families will ever make, and my office will continue to ensure that businesses providing caregiver-related services are transparent and forthright when making representations to the public,” Frugoli said.READ MORE: Free Dental Clinic for Uninsured In Contra Costa County Opening Next Month
Under the settlement, Care.com will pay $700,000 in civil penalties and $300,000 in restitution to California customers who purchased the higher-priced background checks. Additionally, Care.com won’t be allowed to claim National Sex Offender Registry checks and will now be required to state that its background checks may not state a person’s entire sex offender history.
Lastly, Care.com must now notify customers that they can cancel their subscriptions before it automatically renews, prosecutors said.
A Care.com spokesperson said the company “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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
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