How to detect work-from-home scams

The Internet has made it possible for many of us as parents to be able to work from home, making it possible to work flexibly around the family.

However, while there are hundreds of legitimate work-from-home business opportunities out there, sadly, there are just as many – if not more – work from home scams.

Typically, these are letters, emails or websites which claim to offer you financial independence, with the promise of you making thousands of pounds, with little or no effort on your part.

In the majority of cases, you are required to pay an upfront fee, either to register for the scheme or to buy additional leads.  Some are even designed to encourage you to keep upgrading and keep buying more, leads with the promise of even greater sales down the line.  Unfortunately, all you end up doing is wasting your hard earned cash.

Here are three of the most common work-from-home scams that you may have seen on the Internet – although there are of course many more.

  • Earn £hundreds per day from stuffing envelopes/assembling crafts:  You will need to pay a fee for a ‘starter pack’ plus instructions on what to do next.  There will either be ever-changing goalposts and obstacles for you to overcome before you are ever paid – and rest assured, you never will -, or if you are assembling crafts, there will be a problem with the way you have assembled them and therefore a reason not to pay you.
  • Earn from home setting up your own online business:
    Once again, you pay a upfront fee, this time for a fully functioning website which sells products or services.  Your initial fee will be for the basic website.  You will then need to pay ‘optional’ extras for customer ‘leads’, SEO, website traffic monitoring, etc.  However, the product/service is worthless.  Often, the aim is to get new recruits to buy into the scheme – with the emphasis on finding recruits, not the product/service itself.
  • Email Processing:
    You pay a small fee for a list and you are told that you can earn even more money from forwarding to that list.  All you will end up doing is spamming people or forums with worthless nonsense!

To be forewarned is to be forearmed

Protect yourself from scams like these and others, by being wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. Here are a few tips you should consider when responding to adverts relating to work-from-home opportunities.

  • Research the company first. Have a browse around the website. Do they have a registered office address, full contact details including a landline?
  • Network Marketing and Direct Selling businesses are particularly popular with people who want to work-from-home and there is often a fee associated with joining these.   If you are considering one of these as a new business opportunity, check to see whether they are members of the Direct Selling Association.  Legitimate network marketing/direct selling companies will take the time to sign up to their best practices.
  • Similarly, if you are considering joining a franchise, first check the British Franchise Association for tips on what you should consider before joining.  They also have a list of accredited franchise companies.
  • Never pay an upfront fee until you have fully researched the company first, or as mentioned above, you are satisfied that they are an accredited member of one of the above member organisations.

Starting up and running a business is by no means an easy route to success.  Be wary of promises that you can sit back, do nothing and watch the millions come rolling in. It simply is not true.

If you believe you have been the victim of Internet fraud, be sure to report it to Action Fraud a free service run by the National Fraud Authority, which fights against fraud in the UK.

What other tips would you add?

Photograph: Images of Money, Flickr




I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.