If you or a loved one have been arrested for a crime and find yourself in jail, having the option to be released on bail is a great opportunity. Once the defendant is out on bail, they are able to speak with their lawyer freely and work on their defense. However, not everyone can afford to post bail. Some individuals choose to stay in jail while waiting for their trial, while others end up hiring a bail bondsman.
During times like these, friends and family of the defendant may feel vulnerable. This is when others who have bad intentions take advantage of these individuals by exploiting their vulnerability. They will act like a fake bail bondsman and subject the defendant to a scam.
In order to make sure you or a loved one is not a victim of a bail bond scam, keep the following information in mind.
Avoid Anyone Who Is Offering a Discount
Bail bonds are more affordable than if you were to post bail yourself. You do not have to pay the full price, but only about 10 percent of the actual bail amount. The bondsman pays the bail in full and will get their money back as long as you or your loved one shows up to all of the court dates.
Although bail bonds are the less expensive option, someone acting as a bondsman may still offer a discount. Watch out for these individuals. Cheaper may sound more appealing, but you could also be setting yourself up for a scam.
Only Work with Licensed Bail Agents
In order to work as a bail bondsman, an individual must be licensed. The agent has to carry their license with them at all times. In order to know for sure whether or not you are working with a true bail bondsman, ask to see their license. If they refuse to show it to you or become defensive, steer clear of them.
You Will Fill Out Paperwork
Just like any other legal transaction, it is a requirement to fill out paperwork when working with a bail bondsman. An agent who is real and trustworthy will sit you down to fill out paperwork, ask for an I.D. and employment verification, along with other information such as collateral. If the individual does not have paperwork for you to fill out, be cautious.
Run an Online Background Check
Just about everyone has some kind of online presence, including businesses. Treat this process like you would when you are searching for a restaurant. Read reviews of bail bondsman or bail bond companies that you could potentially be dealing with. The information previous clients say about them could be a tremendous help in making sure you are working with someone who is trustworthy.
Be Aware of Fraudulent Tactics
Scams are everywhere these days. People who are in panic or in desperate need become easy targets for fraudsters. The best way to steer clear of becoming an easy target is to know what to look out for. The following are some of the most common strategies used by fraudsters.
- Cold Calls
If you ever receive a call with the caller introducing themselves as a bail bondsman and saying your loved one has been arrested, do not continue with the conversation. Hang up and try to get a hold of your loved one or others who might know where he or she is. If you still cannot reach them, try calling local jails to see if they have been locked up.A real bondsman will never make a cold call. They only call family members on behalf of the arrested individual. It is easy to become panicked when receiving this kind of phone call; therefore, fraudsters will make cold calls in attempt to get money.
Bail bondsman do not roam the halls of jail in search for family members who are panicked and in despair. Keep in mind that you or your loved one should be the one to contact an agent, not the other way around. If you encounter someone who claims to be a bondsman and acts urgent in a sense that raises red flags, listen to your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
- Phone Payments
Remember, when working with a bail bondsman, you will be required to sign paperwork. It is impossible to sign a contract over the phone, so why would you give someone who says they are a bondsman money over the phone? Bail bond companies are located near the local jails because they normally ask clients to visit their office to discuss the details.
When you find yourself in an unexpected situation, it is easy to become desperate and you are unable to think, making you more vulnerable to scams and an easy target. When you or a loved one wind up in jail and someone reaches out to you with an offer to appears too good to be true, do not jump on that opportunity. Wait a little bit to make sure the offer is legitimate, and you are working with a reputable bail bond company, such as Mercy Bail Bonds. We understand this is a difficult time for you and your family, so we want to help make the process as easy as possible. If you find you or your loved one in a situation where you can’t post bail, contact us at (727) 856-7775 and we will get the paperwork started. We are here 24/7 and will always answer.