Imagine that you’re walking around with your friends in your favorite mall. All of a sudden someone approaches you, saying they think you could be a model. You have the "look" they are searching for. They give you a business card, and you begin thinking about the fame, fortune, and glamour of being a professional model. Stop! Though some successful models have been discovered in places like malls, most agents working the malls are phonies and should be avoided.

TO AVOID A MODELING AGENCY RIP-OFF

• Think carefully about how you were approached. If in a busy area, think how many others were told they also have the "look".
• If you are handed something to sign, make sure you read and understand it first.
• Stay away from modeling agencies that require you to use a specific photographer. You should be able to compare the fees and the work quality of several photographers.
• Get all promises in writing, including promises made orally.
• Be wary of companies that only accept payment in cash or by money order. This usually indicates they’re more interested in your money than your career.
• Be cautious if the agency has a relationship with a specific modeling school. The two could be splitting your fees.
• If the agency says it has placed models in specific jobs, then contact the company to verify that they’ve actually hired models from that agency.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any unresolved consumer complaints on file about the agency.

WHERE TO COMPLAIN

If you’ve been scammed by a phony modeling agency, you should contact your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General, or Better Business Bureau.

Real beauty comes from within, so use common sense when someone tries to flatter your vanity.

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