Business Columns & Blogs

Tempted by a modeling agency? Check it out before you sign

A model walks the runway at the Paris fashion show on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.
A model walks the runway at the Paris fashion show on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Associated Press

A reader: My daughter is really pretty. I have had lots of people tell me she could model, and she has actually done a little bit of local modeling.

Over the weekend, she was approached by a man who said he could help my daughter become a professional model. He said she could make thousands of dollars a week. Now, she has dollar signs in her eyes and is having trouble focusing in school. It’s all she seems to think about. She is only 12 years old.

The company offered her a free consultation, but the informational papers say there is a $895 initial administrative cost before she can be evaluated or begin working. Is this a legitimate offer? Isn’t modeling risky?

Action Line: Congratulations on having a beautiful daughter! I’m glad to hear the common sense coming through and the desire to protect her and you from being scammed instead of being tempted by the promise of big money.

Modeling is a very competitive business, and not many girls make it. It’s not as easy as they want you to believe. However, there are legitimate modeling schools that teach posture, makeup skills, walking and posing, etc. These schools do charge a fee for their classes, much like any professional school would.

Beware of companies promising fame and fortune while disguising the fees associated with their “free offer.” No legitimate model scouting service, model search, scout or manager can guarantee that a new model will be signed to an international agency. The final decision on whether a model is signed is ultimately up to the agencies.

Talent agencies often tempt young teenagers with the promise of meeting film directors, producers, model agents, and ad agencies at various free consultation events. Unfortunately, many parents find that nothing happens at the “free evaluation” because there are processing and additional fees before the “model” can attend an actual evaluation.

Here are a few tips to consider before signing up with a talent agent or agency:

▪ Check with the BBB to see if the company has a good rating and how it has handled complaints from customers.

▪ Research the company’s background and compare it with other talent-scouting agencies before signing.

▪ Do not pay any advance or administrative fees. The Federal Trade Commission tells you to “be suspicious if a company requires an upfront fee to serve as your agent.”

▪ Be aware that most legitimate companies do not advertise in newspapers, solicit through the mail or “scout” for talent in malls and other public places.

▪ Make sure to get any agreement in writing.

▪ If you or someone you know has had a problem with a modeling or scouting agency, file your complaint at and

Finally, if your daughter has her heart set on trying modeling, have her contact department stores to see if they use local talent. She may discover that hours of standing still and being posed isn’t as glamorous as she thinks.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or