Modeling Industry Code of Ethics

The following Reputable Modeling Agency Guide or Code of Ethics for the Modeling Industry is based on BBB standards of fairness and honesty from the BBB Head Office warning about modeling agencies.1 If the BBB were to summarize their standards based on thousands of consumer complaints they have received into a Code of Ethics, it would look something like this:

1. A modeling agency will not operate without an agency license where it is required by law.2

2. A modeling agency will not engage in any fraud or deception in its advertising and marketing to misrepresent its past performance or future potential through what it says or what it omits.3

3. A modeling agency will not use "Help Wanted" advertisements for jobs which do not exist.4

4. A modeling agency will not pressure models to sign a contract.5

5. A modeling agency will not guarantee models employment.6

6. A modeling agency will not charge models any upfront fees.7

7. A modeling agency will not charge models for any product or service (photography, classes, etc.) other than booking.

8. A modeling agency will not pressure or insist models use a photographer of their choice.

9. A modeling agency will not split fees with a photographer or printer of their choice.8

10. A modeling agency will not split fees with, or receive a payment from, a referral to an advance-fee company.9

11. A modeling agency will not refer models to another company they own or in which they have a financial interest.10

12. A modeling agency will not take any money from models before they work.11

13. A modeling agency will not earn any income from models, directly or indirectly, except a commission on work they book models.12

14. A modeling agency will not derive its gains at a model's expense.13

(See also EIC Code of Ethics: An Ethical Standard for Talent Agents; Talent Managers Association Code of Ethics; and National Conference of Personal Managers Code of Ethics)

1. "BBB Advises Caution When Dealing With Talent/Modeling Agencies" (

2. "Modeling and Acting Scams," BBB Southland, "The greatest part of determining whether the agency is legitimate or not has to do with licensing." ( [July 23, 2004]. BBB of New Jersey Report for LLC, "Usually a state license is required to book work for a fee." ( [June 4, 2004]. "BBB Membership Standards," "Fulfill all licensing and bonding requirements by applicable city, county, state and federal agencies and authorities." ( See also "Ask if the company/school is licensed or bonded, if that's required by your state. Verify this information with the appropriate authorities, such as your local consumer protection agency or state Attorney General. Make sure the license is current." "If You've Got The Look, Look Out! Avoiding Modeling Scams," FTC, n.d.

3. "BBB Code of Advertising," "An advertisement as a whole may be misleading although every sentence separately considered is literally true. Misrepresentation may result not only from direct statements but by omitting or obscuring a material fact." ( Principles)

4. BBB of Central Ohio Report for New York Talent Scouts, "The Better Business Bureau takes the position that no modeling or talent agency should advertise Help Wanted unless they are hiring people to work for them. We urge consumers to be wary of any modeling or talent agency requiring a purchase or investment when you are responding to an advertisement or offer for employment. A number of hopeful models have reported to the Better Business Bureau that after responding to the help wanted ads in local newspapers, through direct mail, or on the internet, they learned that the firms were offering a school on how to become a model or an actor - there were no open positions for employment. Other consumers have reported that in response to such ads, some firms required them to pay for photograph sessions to obtain pictures of themselves for a portfolio. In turn, the firm would offer to send the portfolio to companies, but the companies may or may not be in the market to offer the consumer some kind of employment. Therefore, the BBB offers these tips on choosing a modeling / talent agency: - Determine if the company actually has jobs available or if it is just a ploy to enroll you in a class or sell you photos of yourself." ( [June 3, 2004]

5. "Modelling Agencies," Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC, "no legitimate agency will put pressure on you to sign or pay for anything." "Be aware of agencies that... ask you to sign a contract without giving you time to think about your decision or without suggesting you check it with a lawyer or industry professional." Bill Moak, "BBB Issues Nationwide Alert on Fraudulent Modeling Agency Offers," Dec. 11, 2002, "Reputable agencies will provide you with plenty of time to research the business, check references and come to a sensible decision." "Ask for a blank copy of the contract to take home and review with a trusted family member or colleague, before you consider signing it. Walk away if the "agent" or business refuses to accommodate your request." ( [July 23, 2004]. "Modeling and Acting Scams," BBB Southland, "Don't succumb to pressure to sign a contract immediately." ( [July 23, 2004].

6. "Beware of Employment Scams," "Be suspicious of any employment-service firm that promises to get you a job." ( BBB Reliability Report for Model Look Magazine, "Potential models should be aware that no firm can guarantee employment." ( [June 2, 2004]

7. "If the agency is asking for money in advance, you are better off saying no." "Alerts and News," BBB Louisville, Kentucky, May 26, 1999 ( [July 18, 2004]

8. BBB Reliability Report for Elizabeth Savage Talent, Inc., "Consumers should always pay the photographer and the printing company directly for any work done." ( [June 2, 2004]

9. BBB Reliability Report for Tomorrow Talent, "This company has stated that it works solely on commission and does not charge its clients any advance fees, as disreputable firms do. However, this firm advertises and collects thousands of dollars in advance fees for a modeling-acting convention in California. The cost of this convention is $5000 per person and Tommorrow Talent does receive a commission from each attendee." ( [June 2, 2004]

10. BBB Reliability Report for Pulse Management, "In March 2004, this company resigned its BBB membership while suspension proceeding[s] were pending." ( [June 3, 2004]

11. BBB Reliability Report for LLC, "Legitimate agents work on a commission. They don't get any money until you get paid for doing the work they have obtained for you." ( [July 18, 2004]

12. "Modeling and Acting Scams," BBB Southland, "The hard facts are that legitimate agents work on a commission and get paid when you do." ( [July 23, 2004]. See also "The Association of Model Agents' guidelines say members can only derive income from commission on fees earned by the models that they represent." Emine Saner, "Scouts prey on wannabes," Evening Standard, June 25, 2003. ( [July 15, 2004]

13. "a personal manager agrees to... not derive personal gains at the expense of clients." National Conference of Personal Managers Code of Ethics, [July 17, 2004]

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