Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is warning parents about model and talent search agencies which promise children fame and fortune but may disguise significant fees often associated with the offers. The advisory was issued in anticipation of an upcoming event advertised in the Tallahassee Area.

"Offers like these are a classic example of something that is too good to be true," Attorney General McCollum said. "I urge parents to thoroughly research the prospective talent agencies before signing any contracts. A bit of effort ahead of time can often safeguard against disappointment and loss of resources in the long run."

Talent agencies often tempt individuals with the promise of meeting film directors, producers, model agents, and ad agencies at various "free" events.

Unfortunately, many parents find that nothing happens at the "free evaluation" because the actual evaluation, which is attended by casting agents and other talent scouts, takes place in a different location, frequently out of state. Those events come with a heavy access fees in addition to lodging, transportation, and other additional costs.

McCollum offered the following tips to consider before signing up with a talent agent or agency:

• Research a company's background and compare it with other talent scouting agencies before signing contracts or paying required fees.

• Never pay large fees required up-front. Fraudulent companies will often charge a significant fee to place photographs on a website.

• Be aware that most legitimate agencies 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.

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