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Educational Consumer Tips

Modeling Agency

Author: Better Business Bureau

"I am Gorgeous, aren't I?" - Modeling Agencies.  Better Business Bureaus nationwide issued an alert today to advise college students, high school students and other young people not to fall victim to pitches from modeling/talent agents. "The BBB knows this is a busy time for this type of business. During winter break, many young people frequent shopping malls, where a "modeling agent" or "talent scout" may approach them, Or as they seek to earn extra spending money, many are tempted to respond to enticing ads promising a glamorous career as a model or actress. We urge parents, educators and youth group leaders to join us in educating teens about the potential pitfalls of such offers," said The Better Business Bureau Of Wisconsin, Inc. request to BBBs for reliability reports on various modeling/talent agencies has more than tripled the past couple of years, an indication more and more people are being approached with modeling "offers." An estimated 200,000 consumers will check with the BBB this year alone. To the dismay of many, they discover the agency has an unsatisfactory record with the BBB after they have already signed a contract or paid an up-front fee. Some students or their parents report having spent more than $1,000 in the pursuit of "stardom." Sometime the students are approached on college campuses; other times they become targets at sporting events or shopping venues. Aspiring models or actresses should not cast aside common sense. "Get the facts before you let your ego and emotions take over and this advice pertains to parents as well. Every parent thinks their child has special talents and scam artists prey on parental pride. If you are considering an offer or advertisement for you or your child to become a model or be in the movies, do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Reputable agencies will provide you with plenty of time to research the business, check references and come to a sensible decision. Before paying any fee(s) DO insist that all verbal promises and claims and agency information be given to you in writing. DO check the complaint history of the agency with the local Better Business Bureau, the consumer protection agency, and the state Attorney General in the area in which the company is located. DO research state laws regarding talent agencies and verify any licensing/bonding information with your local consumer protection agency or state Attorney General. Make sure the license is current. DO ask for a blank copy of the contract to take home and review with a trusted family member or colleague, before you consider signing it. Walk away if the "agent" or business refuses to accommodate your request. DO be wary of claims about high salaries, or boasts that the company is a "major player" in the industry, especially if you live in a smaller city or town. Do NOT let flattery and sweet-talk cause you to abandon your common sense. If you were approached in a common shopping mall, watch to see how many other people the "agent" approaches with the exact same offer. Are they all likely to achieve fame as a super model or movie "star"? Do NOT give in to demands for cash or money order payments. That is a strong signal that the company is more interested in your money than in your career. Do NOT be swayed by promises that your deposit is totally refundable. Typically, you must meet very strict refund conditions. Our BBB complaint files show that fewer than half of all complaints against model/talent scout agencies are resolved to the customer's satisfaction. This signifies that the industry has more than its fair share of bogus operators who rely on misleading claims and promises to entice consumers. Perhaps the quickest way to weed out the unreliable agencies is to ask for proof of its success. "A reputable model/talent agency will be more than willing to provide you with the names, addresses and phone number of models and actors who have recently secured successful work based on the company's training/efforts. And, a reputable agency will provide contact information for companies that have supposedly hired models and actors trained by them. Use that information to research the agency yourself and determine whether you can expect a similarly successful experience. More than 4 million BBB reliability reports are available online at by clicking on the "Check out a Company" icon.  If you are a consumer who is seeking additional information, or need assistance with a complaint against a business, please contact your local BBB, or visit the BBB web site ( or call 414-847-6000 or Toll Free 1-800-273-1002