Stopping in for a quick coffee at Starbucks; shopping at the mall for cute heels; in line for the Ferris wheel at the state fair? You never know when someone will tap your shoulder and claim you to be a perfect fit for a modeling agency or promotions company. Your big break! Talent scouts for legitimate companies do this regularly. Unfortunately, so do scam artists.
How do you know if a company is reputable? Three of the top modeling agencies in Portland, Sports+Lifestyle Unlimited, OPTION Model and Media, and Muse Model Management, share their tips for spotting those trying to cheat you out of your clothes or money.
- RESEARCH the company. If a company doesn't appear in multiple links on a Google search, chances are that it is fraudulent. Working agencies will at minimum have a functioning website; search engine results will also likely show additional articles and links coming from clients or references.
- NEVER PAY a company. A valid business will never charge you upfront to work with it. An agency doesn't get paid until its models do.
- CHECK OUT CONTACT INFORMATION. An honest scout will always provide you with a business card with company contact information. Rarely will scouts give out their own personal cell phone numbers. If the supposed scout asks you to text or to call a personal cell phone, it's likely you're interacting with an industry impostor. Also, professionals will always answer a company phone number or email during business hours. If contact information elicits denied emails or calls, the business is probably crooked.
- CALL AROUND. If the company says it's local, contact major local businesses like Fred Meyer, Nike, Macy's, or Adidas to see if they have worked with the agency before.
- ASK ABOUT CLIENTS. Ask the representative for a list of clients its company has worked with. Then call those clients to see if the business interaction was authentic and positive.
- SEE MULTIPLE PEOPLE. A trustworthy agency will never have only one person working for it. If you have questions, a business should be accommodating with setting up appointments with other models or company representatives.
- SEEK MULTIPLE EXAMPLES. Make the representative show you examples of the company's work. To pull you in, scam artists may show you one professionally done photography session that they've done. However, an upright agency should be able to display several professional samples. Pictures should also be easily available for you to see in a portfolio or website. A moral scout will never show you picture examples from a cell phone.
- DO FITTINGS IN THE STUDIO. Fittings for clothing are a major part of the industry. However, they will never take place in a mall or multiple stores. They will always be done at the agency's studio or at the client's site.
- READ and MAKE A COPY of the CONTRACT. A legitimate company will give you the contract with plenty of time to read over it and make copies of it. A good agency will never ask you to perform any work before you have agreed to the contract.
- BE MODEST. Professionals will always give you the option to change clothing in a space by yourself. They will never barge into a fitting room without your permission.
- SEEK AN ADDRESS. If an agency is dependable, it should have a concrete address for its business. Anyone can rent a studio space but agencies will have a physical address with a company sign.