I am a former talent agent and the mother of a working actor. I started in the entertainment industry over a decade ago. I am writing this article because I have heard so many stories from so many people that had been scammed only because they were not informed.
Did you know it takes less than 30 seconds for a scam artist to see you have no idea what you are doing making you a prime target? It also takes less than 30 seconds for them to see you are informed and cannot be targeted. So, let's get you informed.
The first and foremost rule to remember is if it sounds too good to be true IT ABSOLUTELY IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!! If you hear a radio ad promising you or your child will meet a huge casting director by attending their event most likely it is a trick to get you into their establishment so they can get you to spend your money. If you see an ad or someone invites you or your child in for a "screen test" it is definitely a scam, don't even waste your time. It will just end up costing you a bunch of money. If you or your child has never done any work in the entertainment industry and you are approached by someone asking if you or your child is interested in "being on TV" I can assure you, all they want is your money, don't even give them the time of day. Anyone telling you they guarantee they will get you or your child work is definitely, without a doubt 100% a scammer! There are NEVER any guarantees in the entertainment industry!
If you are approached in public or over the internet ALWAYS beware! Get a business card or company name and DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Make sure you are dealing with a legitimate, reputable company. Go to sag.org to check on a talent agencies or BBB.org to research a company. You should also do a Google search.
Legitimate Talent Agents don't generally prowl local malls looking for new talent. They just don't have time. And in all the years I have been working in the entertainment industry I have never heard of a legitimate casting or production company doing it either. They want well trained experienced actors, why would they waste time they don't have hoping you or your child can pull off what they need for their project? They wouldn't, it just does not happen. The mere thought is absolutely ridiculous.
If you are approached in public, it will ultimately turn out to be a sales rep for a company that just wants to sell you something. Remember, do your homework, it is always better to be skeptical than to be taken.
I hope this helps... good luck!