After years of using services to hire personal care attendants — and having to work with whomever shows up — I’ve developed a system to vet potential PCA hires, help avoid toxic hires and find the best employees. It takes about 10 minutes and screens out anyone with a criminal or otherwise unsavory background.

When I find someone, I conduct an initial phone interview prior to a meet-and-greet in my home. During this call, I get their last name so I can do a preliminary background check before we meet, and then I follow that up by going through my PCA service, which will do a state background check.

With their first and last names, I head to my state’s online courts system and check civil, family and probate court records, then criminal, traffic and petty case records. After years of vetting, I draw the line if there are several recent civil suits against a person for non-payment of rent or store credit; shoplifting convictions; DWIs within four years; and more than a fair share of speeding or other moving violations. If I know or can find the applicant’s partner — if they have one — and that person has a questionable record, I cross them off my list.

After that quick check, I head over to Google and enter their first and last name in quotes plus the state of residence. Here, I search through a few pages of listings to find an address, spouse/partner or any social network with which they may be involved and, again, use my own criteria of what I deem unemployable. Full disclosure: If my potential employee is brandishing a gun in their selfie, we wouldn’t be a good fit.

Using this system, I have dodged a bullet four times within the last nine months. In one case, I found newspaper articles about a prospective employee who lived in a high-income area. Yet, I found that she and her husband have been sued by several credit companies, have numerous parking violations, that their home is a known meth house in foreclosure, and that she harbored a man who’d recently killed a police officer. I found that another woman I was going to meet and greet was convicted of sexting 15-year-old boys at our local high school, and another woman’s fia