Thinking about signing up with a modeling agency or school? Wonder if itís legit or a scam?

We asked the Federal Trade Commission to help us know what to look for and what to ask.

We know: How to Avoid Modeling Scams

Whatís the difference between a modeling agency and a modeling school?

A modeling or talent agency tries to get employment for models and actors. Some agencies require that you sign up with them exclusively, others allow you to register with more than one agency at a time.

A modeling or acting school provides instruction in exchange for a fee or tuition. The classes may be in poise, posture diction make-up etc. Schools do not necessarily act as agents or help you find work.

What are the dangers of being ripped off?

Some modeling or talent Ďagenciesí are simply scams to get you in the door to sell you modeling or acting classes, or to get you to pay for head shot photos or for screen tests. The schools may or may not be helpful in building a career and are designed mostly to take your money.

What are some common tip offs that an agency or school is not legit?

Stay away from:

  • Agents who require you to use a specific photographer.
  • Agents who ask you for an up-front fee to represent them.
  • Schools that have a special 'referral' relationship with a particular agency. They could be working a scam together.
  • Companies who will only accept payment in cash or money order.
  • Companies that make claims saying you can make a high salary as a model.
  • If you were approached by someone who wants to 'discover' you, in a place such as a mall.

What questions can I ask to help protect myself when talking to a modeling agency or school?

  1. Call the Better Business Bureau, State Attorney General or a consumer agency and ask about the agency or schoolís complaint record.
  2. Ask for the names, addresses and phone numbers of models and actors who have secured work recently from the agency, or from the school.
  3. If the agency claims to have placed models in specific jobs, call the companies and ask if they hired from the agency.
  4. Ask if the agency or school is licensed or bonded. If so, check with the State to be sure the claim is true.
  5. Get all promises in writing.
  6. Shop for your own head shot photographer. Call several places and compare prices and services.
  7. Never sign a document or contract without reading it and understanding it first. If someone is pressuring you, tell them youíll think it over and come back later.
  8. Keep copies of all the paperwork involved to help protect you later, if needed.

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