How to Avoid a Beauty Pageant Scam

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In response to the numerous inquiries it has received from parents about child beauty pageants, the Better Business Bureau has released some steps families can take to verify a particular pageant’s authenticity and cost.

The first step parents should take when looking to get their toddler a tiara is to look up reviews of the organization running the pageant on the BBB’s website.  This is because, while many pageants are legitimate, others exist solely so that the organizers can turn a profit.

“Beauty pageants can carry big price tags,” Stephen A. Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus said in a blog post.  “Before finding yourself scammed out of thousands of dollars, it’s important to check out the pageant operator with BBB first.”

To avoid getting scammed, here are some tips the BBB says parents should follow before they help get their toddler a tiara.

Calculate the total costs.

According to the BBB, it’s very common for pageants to require that participants pay a sponsorship fee intended to cover hotel rental fees, awards, administrative costs, salary for company personnel and also to make money for the organization. However, parents need to assess whether this fee and the other costs associated with the event, such as clothing, makeup, food and lodging for family members is worth the experience before agreeing to pay the organizer.

Verify the details.

Parents should confirm where and when will the actual pageant will be held with the venue. The BBB also says they should inquire about, and subsequently verify the accommodations that pageant organizers are providing for contestants, including whether or not there will be supervision. Other questions that parents may want to ask the organization before signing their child up for the event include:

  • How long has the company been operating pageants?
  • Are there judges and what are their qualifications?
  • Are refunds possible if a contestant decides to withdraw from the pageant?
  • What are the obligations of the winning contestant?

The BBB says that parents should not be shy about asking pageant organizers for references or even contacting former winners and participants to get their opinions on the event.

Does it look too good to be true?

The BBB reiterates that any prize that sounds too good to be true probably is. As such, parents should ask questions when they see advertisements like, “Win Big Prizes! Scholarships! Cash! Become the Next Supermodel!"

Concerned parents can check out the BBB’s website for a few more questions to ask a pageant organizer before signing up for an event.

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