11/11/2013 07:13 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Work From Home and Earn £2,000 a Month (But Are They All Genuine?)

Work from home schemes are posted all over the web and are particularly prevalent in the UK, USA and Canada, but are they all genuine?

Many people who apply for work-at-home positions are struggling to make ends meet. Scams abound so it is important to be vigilant as to which are genuine and which are not. Crimes involving the weak, needy and disabled are particularly reprehensible.

It is vitally important for anyone interested in working from home to check out the credentials of the company offering the work, including the people behind it. Any genuine business will be quite prepared to confirm and clarify anything. If they aren't, run a mile, it's as simple as that.

Remember, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

It is estimated, by my own in-house team, that about one in thirty of the schemes offered are genuine.

Terms often used include, "A genuine opportunity! Guaranteed income!" Or "Work only a few hours a week and make your family dreams come true"

It is estimated that con artists pitching work at home schemes rake in over £300 billion pounds every year. That's nearly 500 billion US dollars. Yes that's right, billion, not million.

Spot a Scam

Firstly, remember that people offering legitimate jobs are easily identifiable, in other words you can check them, and the companies they represent, out.

Secondly, be especially wary if the offer appears too good to be true. Someone once asked my advice about a job she had seen advertised saying "earn £2000 a week working from home only 9 hours a week" The bit that stood out was " no qualifications needed, just £47 to register." Talk about obvious. And yet this person was an intelligent woman who had moved to the UK from Canada and was seriously thinking about sending her money off.

Thirdly, if you receive an email offering something you didn't ask for, consider it spam, do not under any circumstance open it. Just click delete.

Anything that doesn't go into detail, or is overly vague, treat it as a con and avoid checking it out further.

Question whether the company concerned has a proper corporate website with a physical address and phone number.

I must emphasise here that there are some genuine offers out there, usually advertised by established companies who offer you all types of support. In my opinion genuine businesses only advertise for workers when they really need them, they look for people who will be reliable so they will want to know something about you, other than your name, address and a cheque for fifty dollars. They will be as keen to know you are honest and trustworthy as you should be that they are.

If they are not willing to answer your questions comprehensively, treat it as a scam.

One particular scam to be especially wary of is the "Money Mule." In this particular piece of chicanery the victims are asked to launder the proceeds of cyber crime by allowing money to be transferred to their account via PayPal, or even directly in person. Do not fall for this one because you could find yourself involved in criminality.

Use Common Sense

There are too many scams for me to list but essentially, use your common sense, and use the power of Google.

Just run a search of the company concerned and add, scam or hoax, as the keywords. In many instances someone else will have been the victim and posted details somewhere online.

Having done all your homework and decided that you have found a genuine company who will train and support you, the next thing to do is make sure you have the equipment to carry out the work offered. Do you need a dedicated space? Do you need any capital, and is it readily available? Is it something you really feel you can do?

It is definitely possible to earn a decent additional, or in some cases full time income, working from home, but you do need to be choosey, especially if you are tight for cash to begin with.

Beyond 'Unreasonable' Doubt

The best rule of thumb method for protecting yourself from wasting time and money is to treat all offers to become rich overnight, or earn a good living working only a few hours a week from home, as a scam until proved beyond "unreasonable doubt" that it isn't.

There are many genuine ways it is possible to earn a good living working from home. There is nothing wrong with searching the Internet. It's a fantastic resource but be wary of strangers bearing gifts that's my overriding advice.