Why do a Background Check?

1) The modeling industry is a high-risk industry.

In New York, a general employment agency license requires the company to post a bond of $5,000, but a license for a modeling agency requires $10,000 of insurance for consumers:

You must also submit a bond receipt showing that the bond has been paid in full and does not expire before the end of the licensing period: $5,000 Bond for Regular Agencies, $10,000 Bond for Agencies engaged in modeling,1 theatrical and/or recruitment of domestic or household employees from overseas.

2) Several states require background checks on anyone who wants to start a modeling or talent agency.

In New York:

You must come in person with photo identification to the NYC Licensing Center at 42 Broadway, 5th floor in Manhattan to be fingerprinted. When you are fingerprinted, you must pay a processing fee of $75... payable to NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. Your fingerprints will be submitted to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) where they are checked against DCJS’s database for any criminal record that you may have. Note that a conviction will not necessarily prevent you from being granted a license. However, failure to reveal a conviction can itself constitute grounds for the denial of your application.2

Check to see if they have a New York Employment Agency License

In California:

A written application for a license shall be made to the Labor Commissioner in the form prescribed by him or her and shall state: The name and address of the applicant . . . . The application shall be accompanied by two sets of fingerprints of the applicant and affidavits of at least two reputable residents of the city or county in which the business of the talent agency is to be conducted who have known, or been associated with, the applicant for two years, that the applicant is a person of good moral character or, in the case of a corporation, has a reputation for fair dealing. Upon receipt of an application for a license the Labor Commissioner may cause an investigation to be made as to the character and responsibility of the applicant . . . to conduct the business of the talent agency.3

In Florida:

Each owner of a talent agency that is a corporation shall submit to the department, with the application for licensure of the agency, a full set of fingerprints of the principal officer signing the application form and the bond form, and a full set of fingerprints of each operator, and a photograph of each taken within the preceding 2 years. The department shall conduct an examination of fingerprint records and police records.4

In North Carolina:

Upon the receipt of an application for a license the Commissioner . . . Shall investigate the character, criminal record and business integrity of each applicant for agency license and shall investigate the criminal records of all persons listed as agency owners, officers, directors or managers. The applicant and all agency owners, officers, directors and managers shall assist the department in obtaining necessary information by authorizing the release of all relevant information. The applicant shall incur the cost associated with this background investigation. The Department of Justice may provide a criminal record check to the Commissioner for a person or agency who has applied for a license through the Commissioner. The Commissioner shall provide to the Department of Justice, along with the request, the fingerprints of all applicants, any additional information required by the Department of Justice, and a form signed by the applicants consenting to the check of the criminal record and to the use of the fingerprints and other identifying information required by the State or national repositories. The applicants' fingerprints shall be forwarded to the State Bureau of Investigation for a search of the State's criminal history record file, and the State Bureau of Investigation shall forward a set of the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history check. The Commissioner shall keep all information pursuant to this subdivision privileged, in accordance with applicable State law and federal guidelines, and the information shall be confidential and shall not be a public record under Chapter 132 of the General Statutes. The Department of Justice may charge each applicant a fee for conducting the checks of criminal history records authorized by this subdivision.5

In Arizona:

Under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 23-521 et seq.), private employment agencies that charge fees to applicants are licensed and regulated by the State Labor Department. The State Labor Department investigates the background of each firm applying for a license. Based on the investigation, the Employment Advisory Council recommends approval or denial of a license to the Commission. All persons determined by the Commission to be involved in the management and supervision of the proposed agency and any of its branches or divisions must pass a written examination. The test is given regularly, both in Phoenix and Tucson. The test is designed to demonstrate knowledge of the Employment Agency Statutes and Rules, the State Civil Rights Act, Unemployment Insurance Laws and Workers' Compensation Laws.6

In other states where modeling agencies open, but a modeling or talent agency license is not required, nobody has done a background check into the leadership of an agency on behalf of consumers; therefore consumers have to do their own background check.

3) Many people don't get their money back.

BBB Mississippi President Bill Moak: "BBB complaint files show that fewer than half of all complaints against model/talent scout agencies are resolved to the customer's satisfaction. This signifies that the industry has more than its fair share of bogus operators who rely on misleading claims and promises to entice consumers."7

(See also Fashion Cafe: Supermodels Scammed After Failing To Do Background Check)


1. "Employment Agency License Application Checklist," New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

2. "Employment Agency Manager License Application Checklist," New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

3. California Labor Code 1700.6. (a), (c), (d), 1700.7.


4. 2003 Florida Statutes 468.403 (b).


5. "North Carolina General Statutes," Chapter 95, Article 5. "Regulation of Employment Agencies."


6. "Private Employment Agencies," "Licensing and Regulating Private Employment Agencies," Industrial Commission of Arizona.

7. Bill Moak, "BBB Issues Nationwide Alert on Fraudulent Modeling Agency Offers," Dec. 11, 2002,


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