Casting scams are an unfortunate, but very real, aspect of the business. They have been around for as long as people have wanted to be actors. They prey on your hopes and dreams, and work largely because acting and modeling are a highly sought-after professions. The fact that now all casting is done online just makes it easier and cheaper (as in free!) for scammers to get the attention of potential victims.
Most legit casting sites have editors who are trained to be on the lookout for likely scams and fraudulent casting notices, but since scammers will try anything in their tactics, it’s crucial for models and actors to stay alert and pay close attention to details.
Here are a few tips to help you tell the difference between a legitimate casting call or audition and a fake casting notice.
How can I tell if a casting company is legit?
By far, the quickest and easiest way to tell if a casting company or “casting agency” is legitimate and above board is to visit their IMDB profile. Unfortunately to get all of their information on IMDB you will need a Pro account, and that’s expensive! But there are still other avenues to investigate.
Definitely take the time to check out their website and social media. What you’re looking for is an office address, contact information, and evidence of their past work and any industry connections they may have. For anyone who’s valid this really won’t be a problem. If they tell you that they can’t share this information due to confidentiality issues – run!
Sometimes scammers will actually hijack the identity of legitimate industry players. They may use the names of real people and real companies and even link to the other person’s real and legitimate websites. This one can be tricky and is basically an extension of all of the phishing emails that are floating around today. Correspondence may look authentic, but be sure to check the email address, phone number, and project details against the details of the real, verified and known people on IMDB and make sure they match up.
One of the things that can really help you is knowing at least the basics of how the industry works. Check out my other article: How To Become an Actor With No Experience: A Step by Step Guide . If you’ve skipped any of these steps and someone is still dying to hire you, start checking for signs of a scam.
New to the business? Start here.
How do I spot a casting scam?
In short, start by looking for the red flags…. And there are always red flags! Some of the most common red flags are:
- Spelling mistakes and really bad or incorrect grammar
- Obvious broken English
- Email addresses that are written out with parentheses or special characters
- Promises of paying you in advance
- Phrases like “Our talent scout is in your town!”
- Anyone who says they can make you a star
- Phone calls that are outside of normal business hours
- Assurance that you will be cast / hired without an audition
- No location, saying “shooting near you” without being specific about exactly where and when the project is taking place.
- Changing location to match where you are if you tell them that you’ve moved
- Someone promising you that you can earn a lot of money every day with no experience necessary
- Anyone EVER asking you to send money for ANYTHING
What should I do if a casting notice seems suspicious?
There are a number of ways to separate scam casting notices from legit ones. Here are a few things you can do as an actor or model to avoid getting scammed:
Ask more questions.
If a casting call appears suspicious, or the casting director’s behavior seems like it might be a scam, don’t be afraid to ask more questions. Legit casting directors will be happy to provide clarity, while scammers tend to dig themselves into a deeper hole.
Things you can ask about are for more details on are things like the shoot locations, call times, links to previous productions and how exactly the pay is being structured.
Keep conversations on the casting website.
If a casting director wants to take the initial conversation about a casting call into a private email exchange, explain that you feel more comfortable communicating through the casting website messaging system. This keeps potential scammers from getting access to your personal email address and of course opening you up to more spam and scam messages. Keeping the conversation on the casting platform, also keeps a record of the casting director’s messages. This may be useful if there is a problem and they need to cross reference messages between a number of different people this particular casting director has contacted.
Document everything….. always.
With any job you book or audition you are called in for, you always want to document as much as possible. For legit jobs and auditions, it keeps the details clear for everyone, and gives you something to refer to if there is a callback or you want to remember what exactly took place. It gives you a little more protection against fraud but can also be useful when collecting pay for legit jobs. Take screenshots and save everything!
Reach out to the website admin.
If you really think that a casting call is fake or there are scammers behind it (and some are really obvious!), definitely flag it and reach out to the admin for the casting site you are using. Any legit casting site will strive to maintain a safe environment for talent and keep their quality high. Chances are they’ll be grateful you gave them the heads-up.
How do I protect myself against acting scams?
The first thing of course is to follow the steps above, but there are a few other things you can do.
- Google the name of the casting director or company with the word “scam” after it.
- Copy and paste the casting notice into Google and check for search results.
- Check websites like Ripoff Report and Scam Busters for any other reports
Basically, you can count on the fact that fake and scam casting calls will lead strait to your bank account! If you get a hint of that in any way, run and don’t look back.
I don’t want this to scare you, but to inform you. Yes, there are a lot of scams out there, but also a lot more legit jobs! If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Pay attention, be careful, but always stay positive and optimistic and follow your dreams!
I hope this really helps you! As always, if you have questions or feedback head to the comments section below. I answer every one!
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