Thorough research of modelling agencies, a clear understanding of the requirements of your contract and knowledge of your rights is crucial when accepting a modelling job. Educating yourself in these areas will give you power, enable you to make informed choices and avoid a potentially bad situation. Esther Kinnear-Derungs and model Delina Cleo have offered the following advice for anyone considering a modelling job.
If the job offer is UK based, there are ways to check legitimacy. Every UK modelling agency should be a registered company listed with Companies House. The BFMA (The British Fashion Model Agents Association) is the trade association of the UK model industry. All agencies part of the association are reputable so you can check the list before accepting an offer.
Check the agency has a real office and address. Google Maps is a useful tool for verifying the office location. Be mindful that some scam agencies have an office for only a month before shutting down so ensure you research the agency’s location history.
If a modelling scout offers you their card, research their contact details. Check the e-mail address is linked to the agency they claim to work for. For example, a ‘gmail’ address should be treated with caution and validity questioned. Some agencies clearly state on their websites if they don’t use scouts. They will also specify if they only use one set e-mail address, allowing you to check the validity of the contact details you are given by the scout.
If you meet a modelling scout and they tell you they work for a particular agency, make sure they do indeed work there. This is a common tactic used by scammers, who tell you they are working for a large, international agency who have offices across the world, making them difficult to trace.
You can contact the agency directly and ask if the scout works there. Agencies are usually quick to reply as they want to avoid the reputation risk of models being exploited in their name.
If the model scout suggests a meeting over Facetime or Skype, again treat this with caution. You can see the location in the background when you speak to them via web cam. If they don’t appear to be sitting in the agency’s office, this is a red flag and should be viewed with suspicion.
A legitimate model agency will never ask a model for money. If an agency does ask for a fee when you sign up, or even at a later stage, you should be alarmed as it is not common practice for legitimate modelling agencies.
If offered work abroad, be clear on who is covering expenses like travel and accommodation. Clarify your salary and when you will be paid. Make sure you know details of your main contact and who you can contact if there are any issues, especially if offered work abroad. If the contract is in a different language, ensure you read the translation. Check the translations are the same before you sign.
It’s easy for scammers to steal other people’s photos and upload them to a website. Research the models featured on the website to check they are real. If there are no models listed, this is also a red flag that should raise alarm bells.
Check the website domain name. Some fake websites mimic those of large brands or companies. Scammers count on you skimming over the address and domain name, so it’s always worth double-checking the address bar.
Check the domain age to see how long the website has been active. A website which has only been created recently could be a sign of a scam.
Poor grammar and spelling is usually a sign of a fake website.
Although contacting other models to ask advice might seem sensible, always approach this with caution. Instagram model Liliana del Carmen Campos Puello was arrested in 2018 for recruiting underage girls to work in a sex-trafficking ring.
Look at social media profiles of agencies, scouts and the associated models. Are they tagged in photos? If there are no tags, it’s probably fake. If they don’t have a presence on social media, this should also raise concern.
Check the social media pages of the agencies and ensure that they are verified accounts. The agency’s social media page should direct you to the website, check the link works.
A reputable agency needs to be clear about the need for a chaperone and license when working with underage models (under 16 in the UK.) All models, particularly the younger models, need to be supported at all photo shoots.
For more information on avoiding frauds and scams, check BFMA website here.
This article was originally published in the fanzine ‘ACTION REQUIRED: 10 Global Goals That Will Change Fashion.’
Order a copy here.