Many are small, chicago escorts run from one or two people's homes, others are large multi-national corporations. Some operate in the United States while others specialize in providing escorts to men who travel internationally. Agencies may use a central dispatch system, such as an online website, to match clients with escorts. They may also use a direct mail approach to solicit customers, or they may work on an "in-house" basis, where each client is personally known to one or more of the agency staff.
In another case, the client will pay a membership fee to the agency, and then the agency will send him a list of escorts available for hire. There are numerous other ways in which agencies vary in their nature and operation. As of 2008, there were approximately 3,000 agencies worldwide providing escorts to men who hire them for sex. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were approximately 12,500 agencies providing sexual services in the United States alone in 1998. The figure is difficult to verify, however, as many agencies are not required by law to obtain or keep any records whatsoever, and some agencies may provide false or misleading information about themselves to local authorities. A 2003 study by the Adam Smith Institute in the United Kingdom found that only 12% of agencies in that country provided any type of verification at all of their claims about themselves.
On the whole, therefore, it is probably safe to say there are at least 10 times as many unregistered, unregulated agencies operating in the world today as there are regulated, licensed agencies. This is not a situation unique to the sex industry. In fact, it is a situation common to many types of industries which offer goods and/or services which are purchased by people who are not financially sophisticated. Many escorts in the U.S. operate without ever having been fingerprinted, much less licensed or registered with the state in which they work. Some agencies will "self-police" their own employees, but this is often not the case. For example, an agency may insist its escorts must be at least 21 years old, and must have a social security number, driver's license and passport. This may or may not be true, however.
Undeniably, many (if not most) escorts are not fingerprinted and do not carry other forms of government-issued identification.
Escort Agencies That Are Legally Obligated To Be Licensed And Regulated There are several ways an agency can legally become licensed and/or registered in a state in which it operates. The most common method is for one of the owners of the agency to obtain a "business license" from the appropriate state agency. A business license is simply an official permission slip granted by the state allowing the holder of the license to conduct a certain type of business within the state. The holder of the business license is then legally obligated by law to comply with all the various regulations placed on all businesses operating within that state. These regulations can and do vary widely from state to state.