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Avoiding modelling scams

On the 1st December 2010 new rules came into operation, banning modelling agencies from charging an up front fee to include a model's details on a database or website - make sure you don't get caught out! A modelling agency should never charge you fees to be added to their books. Read more here.

There are quite a few modelling scams out there, that prey on aspiring models – so it’s important to be aware and stay safe. Below are details of a few types of modelling scams that have been identified in the past.

Avoid modelling scamsBogus modelling castings and seminars

Some scammers set up fake casting seminars. Aspiring models are invited to the seminars, where they are convinced to hand over a fee in order to be represented by the casting agency. In return for the fee, the casting agency promises to present photos of the model to leading agencies. The casting agency insists that if the aspiring model is not signed, then they will receive a full refund.

In addition to this, the company may try to sell the test photos produced at the casting, which will usually be overpriced and unsuitable for a portfolio or to send to genuine modelling agencies.

A short while later, the model does get a phone call, claiming they have been successful, and this agency would like to sign them up. Unfortunately, the ‘modelling agency’ is just another scam business set up by the same people who ran the casting seminar, and sometimes will even request another fee.

See below for tips on how to identify and avoid fake modelling agencies.

Fake modelling agencies charging a fee to join

On the 1st December 2010 new rules came into operation, banning modelling agencies from charging an up front fee to include a model's details on a database or website. However, there are still plenty to cowboy modelling agencies trying to con aspiring models out of their cash.

The scout scam

Many fake agencies will send people out onto the street with a camera and business card to approach teenage girls on the high street. They will ask you if you've modelled before and make lots of flattering commentsa bout how you could definitely be a model - maybe even the next supermodel! They may take a photo of you and will hand over their details, saying you should get in contact, as they've got a specific job in mind that would suit you perfectly.

The newspaper / online advert scam

Similarly, the same fake agencies will take out adverts in local newspapers, classifieds or online, asking for applications by pos or email.

The adverts are usually very appealing, as they stress that they need models urgently, and that no modelling experience is required.

Once the applications are received the ‘agency’ accepts the model, actor or film extra, but asks for an administration or marketing fee, ranging from £50 to £250.

No genuine modelling agencies charge a fee to join. Modelling agencies make their money by finding models work and taking a commission from the client's fee. They will want to see some good photos of the potential model and if they like them, you will be invited in person for an interview.

Tips of how to avoid getting caught by a fake modelling agency:

  • Be wary of adverts in locals papers, classifieds and online (they might not all be bad, but you need to be extra cautious)
  • Avoid companies that have no permanent address
  • Avoid companies that have no landline telephone number
  • Always take someone with you for safety
  • If you are under 18 you MUST absolutely, no question take and adult with you. No reputable agency will see you without a guardian anyway, so if they're insisting you come alone -n run a mile!
  • Read contracts carefully (even though it might seem tedious) and if you really can't understand it, find someone who can. It's probably worht paying an independant lawyer, or you may find it costs you a lot more, further down the line...
  • Don't respond to pressure - an agencies that will build a good career for you should be willing to wait for you to make your decision, they want models with a cool head not people who are easily bullied into signing on the spot
  • Use your common sense, and don't be afraid to say NO!


Unfair modelling agency contracts

Most new models are so excited at the prospect of being accepted to a modelling agency, that they will sign whatever contract is put in front of them. But like with any other contract, it’s important to read it carefully, before signing anything.

With the prospect of modelling work, it’s easy to be optimistic, and assume disputes will not arise, but some contracts may be designed to be heavily in favour of the agency. These contracts may have extremely high modelling agency fees, place the burden of expenses on the model and / or have heavy penalties for minor things that are impossible to avoid, such as slight lateness or even sneezing in the wrong direction.

These clauses may result in models working long hours with very little, if any, monetary compensation and no rights to recourse.