Earn $100 per hour or $500 per day as a fashion or commercial model.
Full or part time. No experience necessary. Real people types, such
as children, grandmothers, college students, and construction workers
welcome. No fee.
If you have dreams of becoming a model, this ad may be tempting. But
before you sign a contract, learn how to sort out the legitimate
modeling agencies from the scams.
This brochure will give you tips on how to detect and avoid
fraudulent modeling schemes and tell you where you can go for help if
you become a victim of a scam.
How the Scam Works
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently took action against two
modeling agencies that placed ads in newspapers to encourage
potential models, both men and women, to interview with the agency.
Many of the ads stated "No fee." However, the models who were
"selected" by these agencies were asked to sign a contract agreeing
to pay several hundred dollars for classes or photographs that the
agency required before they could work as models. In the end, most of
these would-be models received no job assistance from the agencies,
no job leads, and no modeling employment. In numerous instances, the
potential models did not even receive the photographs that had paid
for. The companies simply packed up and left town.
How To Spot the Scam
It may not be easy to recognize a modeling scam because many of the
advertising claims and practices may resemble those used by
legitimate modeling agencies. However, listed below are some common
advertising claims that should make you suspicious.
* "No fee." If a modeling agency advertises that there is no fee for
its services, you should be wary any time you are asked to pay. Most
legitimate agencies make money only by taking a commission from their
models' work. An exception, however, is that you may be charged for
your picture to be in an agency book that they send to clients who
hire models. Make sure you pay only your portion of the printing
costs. But before you pay any money, ask to see a copy of the
agency's previous books and the list of clients to whom they were
sent. Most legitimate agencies will provide you with this
information. It is a good idea to check with some of the agency's
clients to determine whether they have hired any of the company's
* "Earn high salaries." Only experienced, top models can expect to
receive large salaries.
* "Work full or part time." The hours of a model are uneven and
sporadic. You will not have the flexibility to choose your own hours.
* "Real people types should apply." Some ads encourage people of all
shapes, sizes, and ages to apply for commercial modeling work that
involves the sale of a product. Remember, modeling opportunities are
limited even in large cities. Opportunities do exist for "real
people" models, but they are rare.
Because it may be difficult to recognize a modeling agency scam only
from advertising claims, watch if agencies use any of the following
* Charge you money to take their classes, before you are eligible
for modeling work. A legitimate modeling agency may provide
instruction on applying makeup or walking, but most do not charge you
for classes. An exception to this is when a modeling agency also
serves as a modeling school. A modeling school does charge for
classes, but that is a separate function from finding you work as a
* Conduct an unprofessional photo shoot. Once a modeling agency
agrees to represent you, you will need photographs for your
portfolio. In the larger modeling markets, such as New York or Los
Angeles, the photographs typically are taken in separate photo
sessions, each using different clothes, makeup, and hairstyles. And
often a model's portfolio is put together with photographs from more
than one photographer. In smaller markets, all photographs may be
shot in one session by one photographer, but you should still look
different in all your photographs by wearing a variety of cosmetics,
clothes, and hairstyles. You may want to shop around for a
photographer that best suits your portfolio needs.
* Require a particular photographer. If the modeling agency requires
you to work with a particular photographer, chances are the
photographer is working with the modeling agency and they are
splitting the fee. A legitimate modeling agency may recommend that
you work with a certain photographer, but be skeptical if they are
How to Protect Yourself
The best protection against losing money to a phony modeling agency
is to take precautions. The following list may help you reduce your
chances of losing money.
* Realistically assess your chances for being a model.
Ask yourself: was I chosen by the agency because they believe I can
make money for them -- or just because I can afford to pay money to
* If you cannot verify the agency's credentials and the agency is
asking for money in advance, you are better off saying no.
* Check out all claims made in agency advertisements, sales
presentations, and literature. For example, if they say they are the
largest modeling agency in the country, contact other modeling
agencies and ask if this is true.
* Ask for the names, addresses, and phone numbers of models who work
through the agency and clients who have used its models. Contact the
models and clients to verify the information.
* Ask if the agency is licensed or bonded as an employment agency,
if that is required by your state. Your local consumer protection
agency can answer this question or direct you to the proper agency to
get an answer.
* Keep copies of all important papers, such as your contract and
agency literature. Be sure to get all verbal promises in writing. You
may need these if you have a dispute with the agency.
* Be suspicious of agencies that require models to pay fees,
including fees for agency books, by cash or money order only. This is
a strong signal that the agency is interested in taking your money
not in representing you as a model.
Where to Go For Help
If you have paid money to a modeling agency, and believe they are
involved in a scam, first contact the company and request a refund.
If you are not satisfied, register a complaint with your local
consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, and state
Attorney General's office. Also, contact the advertising manager of
the newspaper that ran the ad you answered. For ethical and practical
reasons, the advertising manager may be interested to learn about any
problems you have had with the agency.
You also should write to : Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade
Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580. Although the FTC cannot represent
you directly in a dispute with a company, if the Commission finds
evidence of a pattern of deceptive or unfair practices, it can take
Facts for Consumers from the Federal Trade Commission
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