Lately, some readers have been messaging our Facebook page (Two Monkeys Travel) or Kach for visa advice and legit checks. One reader almost paid PHP 23,000 to an “agency” to get her visa processed, but it was a scam judging from the e-mail, profile, and messages of the agent. If you want to make sure it’s legit, here are some of our Tips in How to Avoid Au Pair Scams for Placement in Europe.
Au Pairs as they find by the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) is young Filipino citizen, between 18 and 30 years of age, unmarried and without any children, placed under a cultural exchange arrangements with a European/American host family for a maximum stay of 2 years permitted by the country’s immigration authorities. Some countries may have different qualifications or terms like if you want to go to France, you must know basic French and pay your travel costs, for Switzerland you need to be at most 25 years old and many more. You should check the immigration laws.
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To know whether what you are applying is legit or not, here are the tips on how to Avoid Au Pair Scams to Europe:
1. Fake Website or E-mail Address
Great Au Pair companies or agencies have official websites. If you are contacted by someone that pretends to be an employee or an agent, check the e-mail address if it’s [email protected] or org. If it’s g-mail, then it’s a bit fishy. You could also search if nameofcompany.com is indeed an official website and doesn’t result in errors or advertisements.
As you can see in the example, the scammer used [email protected]; using a g-mail is a red flag for a big company. And if you google “London Travel Agency Service,” it shows a Travel Agency website, and if you click “Contact us” you’ll find [email protected], not a g-mail account.
P.S. Here are top Au Pair Websites but some scammers could find you there so BE CAREFUL.
2. Fake Profile
A scammer might contact you through Facebook telling you they saw your Au Pair application or whatever. But when you check their profile, what they say is a bit different then what’s there. There may also have a few friends, but that person is a member of many groups. To verify, you can have a video call or e-mail the agency if the agent is indeed working there. Check also the reviews if there is a “Facebook page.” Plus, if you’ll send payment on a personal account rather than an under an agency’s name – SCAM!
3. Transferring Money in Advance
If you are already registered in the Au Pair websites, you can honestly do the Au Pair application process on your own to avoid additional costs in paying another “agency.” The Au Pair websites themselves are the real agency that helps you connect to a host family.
Should the host family ask you to send them money, it’s a red flag. Usually, they help you in covering some travel expenses, some don’t, and it depends on your agreement or contract. But if they ask you to transfer money so your spot wouldn’t be taken and it would be refunded when you arrive, don’t get fooled. If you paid, you wouldn’t get it back. Be warned.
4. Transferring Money to a Different Account
The first tip was a fake website or e-mail or profile, but what if they are okay? It’s not yet the end. Some “agencies” might ask you to pay for visa application fees, and when you see the details, it’s a personal account rather than the company. If it’s a sole proprietorship, it’s fine, but if it’s a big company, that’s a scam. They usually have their official bank accounts.
5. No Video Calls
If you don’t get interviewed by the host family or just “chat” with them, then it’s probably a scam. Imagine yourself in their shoes; you are inviting a stranger in your house to help you take care of your kids, would that be okay with you to not talk to your potential visitor? Well, you need to interview the Au Pair, at least.
You’ll have a chance to know meet the host family and discuss more of the contract like working hours, duties, pocket money. It’s also a great way to know if you will be shouldering the expenses or it’s the host family. They will also be helping you with your visa application as you’ll need a document from them for your visa process.
6. Too Good to Be True Contracts
Most host families give you pocket money or help you pay for your Language learning. In Norway, for example, you’ll have pocket money of NOK 5,900 per month (about PHP 30,000), if it’s above that maybe double the amount, that would be an Au Pair scam especially if you’ll be asked for an advanced fee.
Remember, you are not a domestic helper there; you are an Au Pair (an equal) and will do light chores and help with the kids. Hours would also be either 25-30 hours; you should be not doing anything more unless you like it. However, there is no extra pay.
7. Fishy E-mails
You should also check the e-mails you have received and its content. Most scammers are those in dire need of Au Pairs, or they want you there “ASAP.” Then, they will refer you to a travel agent who will process the documents, the travel agent’s e-mail ends with @gmail / @hotmail / @yahoo and not the company’s address. It will also ask you to pay a large amount of money for processing.
Another example is also from a family’s “lawyer” or “immigration officer” for assistance in the application process. A fake e-mail from an official website is also plausible asking you to send documents and money. Please do remember not to send anyone money as most websites are usually dependent on membership fees rather than “endorsement fees.”
I hope you find this article helpful and Avoid Au Pair Scams in Europe. PHP 20,000 is not a small amount, so you need to see if the agent or host family is authentic. There are also seminars (Country Familiarization Seminar) given by the CFO for Au Pairs, which is a requirement before leaving the country. You could check the experience of an in this article. Good luck!
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About the Writer
Hey, I’m Lyza! I once was a person who just imagined going to places “one day” but decided to pursue my dreams. My first travel abroad was in Japan, solo, last 2018, and fell in love with the journey since. I’m aiming to visit 10 countries before turning 30 and 2 new places in the Philippines every year. Besides traveling, I love organizing trips, photography, reading, and making new friends. Follow my adventures through my Instagram.