Sadly, there are an increasingly large number of scams, particularly through the internet and social media. Here are just a few of which to be aware. First it is important to understand how a legitimate model agency will operate.
One important thing to keep in mind when you are planning to start working as a model, or when you are already working with a modelling agency, is that while there are plenty of legitimate modelling agencies out there, there are plenty of scam artists trying to trick young, impressionable people who are interested in modelling.
When you start contacting modelling agencies, you can be secure in the knowledge that AMA agents are clearly legitimate. And there are others, who have their own qualities and are perfectly safe. But you should always do your homework on an agency’s background. The internet can offer plenty of material on the legitimacy of a modelling agency, so use that information to your advantage.
Legitimate model agencies will never ask you for money. If an agency does ask for a fee when you sign up with them or even at a later stage, you should be alarmed as it is not common practice for legitimate modelling agencies.
There will be occasions, once you have been taken on by an agent, when you will need test photography to enhance your portfolio. These are rarely expensive, not much more than a couple of hundred pounds. You will be, after all, be investing in your own career. Your agent will advise you.
Overall, a legitimate modelling agency should not be charging their models anything up-front. Legitimate agencies make their money once they have booked their models in modelling jobs. In other words, none of their income should come directly from their models, only from clients who want to book them.
Another very important point is that legitimate modelling agencies should never ask you to pose for nude photographs. Do not be fooled by an agency or an agent that says in order to become a model, you need to take off all your clothes. Legitimate modelling agencies will never ask you to do that. Depending on the type of modelling you are looking to get into, a legit modelling agency or agent might ask you to pose in a swimming suit or in your underwear in order to know what your body type is.
Remember to read as much about the agency as possible before you contact or visit them. The more you know about the agency, the more informed you will be about the legitimacy of the establishment. It’s important to start your modelling career with real professionals, so be careful, as not everyone is as trustworthy as they might seem.
These people claim to work for a reputable agency and may even feature the agency’s website on their information. However, mostly they will claim to have seen your profile on social media and will show an email address which purports to be at the agency. However, look closely and it will usually have a prefix or something that is unusual. Check the legitimate agency’s website and their contact details. If they are in any way different, it is almost certain to be a fraud.
No agency will ever ask for your contact details or, particularly, any banking information on-line. Anyone who does is a fraud.
A good model agent recognises a potential model when he sees one. You don’t need a portfolio of poor photographs from a mediocre photographer or even good ones from a good photographer when you go to an agent. So, do not spend money on a portfolio. Just take a couple of snapshots – headshot and full length. That will be enough for them to assess how photogenic you are. In fact they’ll be more interested in looking at you than the pics. If they take you on they will organise test shots with good photographers to start building your portfolio.
Some people set themselves up at hotels or other gathering places and claim to be linked to a reputable model agency. The “open call” or casting will, most likely, have been advertised in a local newspaper or online. Always first call the named agency to check if the casting is legitimate because few recruit models in this way. Never attend any open call unaccompanied or outside working hours.
It is prohibited by law to charge up-front fees and these set ups usually do. They will claim to provide a portfolio and promise work. Usually, they take your money and disappear.
Another modelling scam is the agency that tries to sell you a space on their online website. They claim to have direct contact with any number of professional agencies and that they can get you placement. They can’t. It is just a ploy to take your money.
Likewise, many will set up social media channels (on Facebook, Instagram etc.) which, at first glance, look similar to a reputable agency but are nothing to do with them. Always do your research thoroughly and treat any imitator with suspicion.