There are many benefits to working for yourself – flexibility, freedom, no commuting if you work from home and the chance to work on different projects are just a few advantages.

However, the self-employed can also be a target for people who take advantage of those looking for work. According to Scambusters, home working scams typically target four key groups – stay at home mothers, disabled or elderly individuals, low income households and those with limited education.


Fraudsters rely on these groups having one thing in common – that they might be having difficulty making ends meet and need another source of income. Therefore the underlying theme behind almost every scam is the promise to make you much more money for completing seemingly ‘easy’ tasks. Keep an eye out for these common self-employment scams:

  • Product and craft assembly – you will be asked to spend hundreds of pounds in equipment, supplies and material to make certain products, but there will be an excuse as to why they won’t pay you once you submit the final product.
  • Survey taking – although this can actually be a legitimate way to make money from home, the likelihood is that you’ll earn pennies for every survey you take.
  • Mystery shopping – again, this can sometimes be legitimate, however companies will often require that you pay a hefty fee in order to become ‘certified’, even though there is no such thing as a certification for mystery shopping.

Stealing money

Here at ICS, we’ve worked with home workers and the self-employed for 14 years and we’re always happy to offer advice and guidance. Here are our top tips for avoiding home working scams:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”

A scam is likely to offer something quite unrealistic – typically earning a lot of money from home without any experience and with only a small investment.

Information, not emotion

Consider the tasks you have to perform, whether you’ll receive a salary or if it is commission-based and the total cost of the project (including supplies, equipment and your time). Ask yourself if the money is worth it and consider that paying money upfront is an immediate red flag.

Do your research

Find out as much as you can about the company. Begin with a simple Google search and then contact them directly. If there are testimonials on the website, ask if you can contact the individuals to find out more about their experience.

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Avoiding scams can be a challenge for the self-employed community and sometimes a second opinion is all you need. Our dedicated account managers at ICS can advise and assist you in growing your self-employment career – dealing with everything from tax, IR35 advice and administrative services to avoiding home working scams. Get in touch online or at 0800 195 3750 to talk with the team. We’re always happy to help.