It's nice to meet you too. And you are definitely not being rude to ask these questions. Just as with any job, there are people in the modeling industry who will try to take advantage of people, particularly new models who are just trying to get into the industry.
There are fake "agencies" who try to scam hopeful models for money for fake services, photos the model will never receive, etc., and then the "agency" will just disappear. There are also photographers, etc., out there who are not legitimate and who will try to cause some form of harm to an innocent model who just showed up for a gig.
The best thing to do is research whatever agency you are looking at applying to thoroughly. Are there any bad reports online about them? Are they associated with scams? Are there good reviews? Are they in good standing with the Better Business Bureau?
Also, if you have a photo shoot with a photographer you have never worked with before (particularly if you are working with independent photographers in an attempt to build your portfolio), always bring someone with you. Never go alone. If the photographer is not all right with you bringing someone along, there is a good chance that they may have something sinister in mind, and you shouldn't work with them.
When I worked as an independent photographer, I always insisted that any potential models I worked with brought someone with them. I also had someone with me. That way everyone involved felt safe and comfortable, particularly if we were meeting in a more seculuded location instead of a very public place.
Please let me know if you have any other questions. I will be signing off for a while because my class is about to start, but I will try to hop back on for a few minutes during breaks.
It's been my pleasure helping you. Please remember to rate my answer positively, as rating me is the only way I receive payment/credit for my work. If you would like to request my help in the future, please post your question with "For Miranda Only" at the beginning, and I will respond.