Help Around Town, Inc. has been built by a parent with parents' concerns in mind.
Here are some safety measures we have built in & some recommendations for you:
When posting a job, do NOT include travel dates if you will be away from your house. If you are looking for a house sitter or a pet sitter, find someone reliable first, then tell them your travel dates. Putting your travel dates in the job description means any user on this website can click on the job description to know when you are gone.
At the end of every job, the buyer and service provider can rate each other. Knowing that they will be rated and that the ratings will be public should help keep everyone on their best behavior.
It is incumbent on users to do their DUE DILIGENCE on the parties they are dealing with. WE ARE SIMPLY A VENUE, facilitating finding the other party, but making no claim as to reliability or safety or fitness for a job.
- DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.
- For Level 3 Sex offenders, check the MA (only) state sex offender registry database
- Note: the MA state sex offender registry database will also show Level 2 sex offenders from July 12, 2013 on. Level 2 Sex offenders who were convicted earlier are only available in person from your local police station.
At the very LEAST, do some background research on Google:
Research “First name, Last name” + Home Town +State
If the person is going to take care of your children, or be in your house when you're not there, or be alone with a vulnerable person, then a minimum is also to do a background check. There's a whole industry of background check services. Also remember that the background checks don't catch everything and that things can happen between when the background check was run and when the person works for you.
If you're hiring a contractor, then also check the MA Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Enter any part of the contractor's name or the contractor's registration number to see "if the contractor has lost any arbitration cases since 1997 or has had any Guaranty Fund claims filed against his or her registration since 1993." "The Office of Consumer Affairs runs an arbitration program to resolve disputes between registered contractors and homeowners, and administers a Guaranty Fund for homeowners with unpaid judgments against registered contractors."
Contact Info, Especially for Bulletin Board Ads
General Web Safety Tips Apply Here & Elsewhere
- HelpAroundTown ads are will show up in Google searches. This is good for our users: being seen & found is the point of advertising. But it is also why we recommend users avoid giving out personal information in an ad. Do not include your full name, your home address, or your home phone in a public ad.
- Rather than giving out your private cell phone number in a public ad, you may want to get a free Google voice number. Forward it to your cell phone. You will get an email transcription for every message you receive, in addition to the usual voice mail recording. The numbers are free and available with local area codes. This allows you to give out a phone number without publicizing your personal cellphone number. http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html
- Similarly, in a public ad, we recommend you write out the @ symbol in your email address [at]. This makes the address harder to pick up by web bots so you do not attract more spam. example[at]webmail.com
- We also recommend you use an email that does not reveal your full name. Your public email adresss should NOT be in the form
- You can set up a free email address just for this, or pick a less essential email account. We don't recommend you use your core email address in an ad that will be in the public record.
- Finally, think about linking your ad to your profile. By design, your public profile will reveal your experience and recommendations earned, but will protect your privacy. On your public profile, our town will be visible, as will your first name and the initial of your last name. Your full last name and street address will be hidden. They are only visible on the private version of your profile, when you post a job or apply to a job, and people need to know who they are dealing with.
- All users have a free profile that displays their expertise, interests & experience, ratings & recommendations.
- All profiles have a public and a private version.
- The private version includes a user's full name and home address. We only show this on a need basis, when someone is applying to a job or offering a job and the other party needs the info to do their background research. (See suggestions above.)
- The public version shows a user's town, but not their street or street number. It also shows a users' first name, but only the initial of their last name.
- We never show a minor's home address, even if they are applying for a job.
- BUYERS CANNOT BROWSE THROUGH SERVICE PROVIDER PROFILES by design. Buyers only see the profiles of people who have expressed interest in a job.
Instead, if service providers want to promote their services, they can:
- email a link to their profile, to people they know
- advertise by posting an ad on the Bulletin Board. That ad can link to any web page, including their profile.
What is a public vs. private profile?
- There are two versions of every profile: Public and Private. By default, only the public profile is displayed. Private profiles are only shown on an as-needed basis.
- Public profiles show your first name and only the initial of your last name, plus your town and state. They do not show your full last name or your street address. Public profiles are the default profile.
- Private profiles contain your full name, street name and town & state. We show these strictly on a need-to-know basis. That is, when a REGISTERED user applies to a job, the user sees the hiring person's private info. Similarly, the person hiring sees the full info of anyone applying to his/her job. People hiring you and people working for you need to know who you are before they decide to go ahead. They need to do their own background check. Your full name and street are only shown in these two cases and only if your are over 18 years old.
- We do not display email addresses in any profiles. We encourage you to message through HelpAroundTown, so there is a record of all your agreements.
- We do not display phone information. We encourage you to share this selectively, in messages to people you have screened.
- Profiles include editable text that you control. We are try hard to protect users' privacy, but you are in control of the information that you share.
Children 13 and under may NOT register on Help Around Town, Inc.. If you think we should change this policy, please let us know.
Teens 14 & 15 years old need to have their parents' written approval before we can activate their registration. Until we have received the parents' signed approval, by mail, with a $3 check to make sure it really is the parent, the teen’s profile will not be active, and he/she will not be able to apply for jobs or community service hours through Help Around Town, Inc.
Teens 16 & 17 years old may register on our site. We will activate their registration immediately. We will notify parents of the teens' registration by email. This email gives parents an opportunity to OPT OUT their child.
It is important that we have the parents' correct email address.
- WE WILL NOTIFY THE PARENT BY EMAIL EVERY TIME THEIR MINOR APPLIES TO A JOB. This gives parents the opportunity to check out the job and discuss it with their teen.
Parents: please make sure HelpAroundTown emails do not go to spam.
- We encourage parents to browse the HelpAroundTown.com website with their child, ask to see their teen's profile, and help edit it.
PARENTS, PLEASE ADVISE YOUR TEENS ON THE APPROPRIATENESS OF EVERY JOB. First read the job description, buyer profile and messages back and forth. Then go with your child to meet the buyer. Scope out the job site. Give your teen your advice. You are responsible for your child.
Teens are encouraged to team up with friends for jobs, as appropriate.
WE WILL NOT SHOW THE HOME ADDRESS of 14-15 year olds, even when they apply to a job. We will, however, show 14-15 year olds’ full name & age and all profile info (except for the home address) that the teen has provided, to help a buyer make his/her decision.