When a person is arrested for their crimes and taken into custody, it creates an awful situation for their family. Depending on the crime they have committed, the situation can be very embarrassing and stressful for their loved ones. If the arrestee has a spouse or children that are to be taken care of, an auto payment or mortgage dues, their family members may take these responsibilities on themselves. Sometimes, the family of the arrestee can experience significant hardships due to added responsibilities.
Due to hardships, these family members become vulnerable to bail bond scams. They are desperate to get their arrested relative out of jail so that they don’t have to wear the burden of paying their dues or taking care of their spouse or children. Scammers take advantage of this desperation and use nifty tricks to rob the naïve family members of their hard-earned money. Here’s how tricksters deceive them.
Bail Bond Scams
· Cold Calls
In this type of scam, a scammer calls you and tells you that your family member or close friend has been arrested. They claim that they are a bail bondsman and that your relative or friend has asked them to contact you for bail arrangements. There are circumstances in which an arrestee does ask someone to call their loved ones on their behalf; however, the only purpose of this is to send a message when there are no other means of doing so.
If the bail bondsman calling you asks to make arrangements for posting bail through a bond even before you have any evidence of what they are saying is true, it means that you are being played. A bail bond agent would never ask you to post bail until you have assured that your friend or relative has indeed been arrested.
If someone tells you that your loved one has been arrested, you should verify whether it is true or not. This can be done by calling the person – the one whom the caller claims is in jail – or calling the local police to collect information. Only once you’ve established that your friend or relative is in jail should you contact a bail bond agent to make arrangements for their bail.
Bail bondsmen sometimes use appropriate force with people who act rude or display criminal behavior. They do this to ensure that their clients don’t miss their court dates. However, this should never extend to threats, physical intimidation, or undue force, especially when it involves friends or family members of the arrestee. Such behaviors are a sign of a fraudulent bail bond agent.
· Fake Errors
This is a type of scam where the trickster tells you that there is an error in the system, which can lead to dire consequences – like loss of posted funds or a return to jail – if not fixed immediately. This is done to create a sense of urgency, which would keep you off balance. Errors can happen, but they mostly don’t lead to such consequences.
While you may feel fear for your loved one or concern about the payments you have already made, such situations deserve patience and careful verification. A real bail bond agent won’t raise the urgency in this manner. Rather, they’ll approach calmly and take some time to explain the situation with a viable remedy.
· Lack of Contract
When posting bail for someone, the stakes are very high. As such, you shouldn’t work with someone who refuses to use the right documentation. Contracts are very important because they lay out the conditions of the agreement, payment, and service to protect both sides of the transaction. A bail bond is an important contract with consequences for parties who fail to comply with all its requirements. Therefore, you should always ask the bail bond agent to provide you with a contract and only sign it if you understand and agree to its terms and conditions.
· Soliciting at Jail
Some bail bond agents look for clients at jails. This makes sense because there isn’t a better place to find people who need help getting released from jail. However, looking for clients at jails is a violation of the law that applies to the bail bonds industry. Not only that, but some scammers put pressure on detainees and their friends in this very uncomfortable setting.
Don’t trust a bail bond agent who approaches you in jail because they can’t be trusted. If they don’t follow the rules set by the state, who can you expect them to treat you fairly?
· The Police Officer
Some scammers call people and claim that they from the local sheriff’s department. They tell the victim that they have an arrest warrant for their spouse, child, or other relative and then give them a choice – either turn their loved one in or pay for their bail. The victim feels pressured to do something for their relative and makes the choice that anyone else would in this situation – agree to pay for the bail using their credit card. Once the phony police officer receives the payment, they declare that the warrant has been voided, and the relative is now safe.
· The Grandchild Scam
With age, people start letting their guard down. The scammers can take advantage of this fact. They call elderly people, representing themselves as their grandchild. They say that the police have arrested them, and they need money for the bail because they aren’t able to reach dad and mom for some reason.
The scammers go in prepared to ensure that the elderly victim believes them. They spend days or weeks looking for the target and then scout through their social media accounts to look for family situations that they can exploit. Once they have collected all relevant information, they make the call to scam the naïve elderly. The grandparents want to help their grandchildren, so they forward the cash as they are told. If they don’t realize that they are being scammed, they may end up being fleeced for a huge amount of money.
· Phony Bondsman
In this type of scam, the savvy trickster somehow acquires information of someone who was arrested recently and released on bond. This may be done by hacking the computer system of jail or by the help of an inside man who gives critical information in the police records in return for money.
The scammer tells the indemnitor via phone call that due to some problem, they need to pay more money immediately or a warrant will be issued against the defendant. The indemnitor, thinking that their loved one will again be sent to jail, agrees to send the money.
How to Stay Safe from Bail Bond Scams?
· Fill Paperwork
Before a bail bond agent posts a bond, they’ll sit down with the cosigner to complete the paperwork. The bail bondsman will ask for your I.D., employment information, references and some other information to verify that you can support the bond. If you aren’t asked to complete any paperwork and the bail bondsman tells you that you only have to make the payment while they’ll take care of the legal work, don’t believe them.
· Sounds too Good to be True? It probably is…
Some conmen, pretending to work for a bail bond company, often offer to make arrangements for the bail at a very low bail bond premium. When they get the money, they flee, leaving the naïve victim with nothing in return. If the bail bond premium is low, be very suspicious. Why would a bail bond agent ask you to pay a lower amount than what all others are asking? This sounds too good to be true and probably is.
Remember that the industry standard is to charge 10 percent of the total bond amount. There is no such thing as ‘cheap bail bonds’. Agents who promise 5 percent bail or other low amounts are likely advertising deceptively or planning to run off with the victim’s money.
If you come across a bail bond agent who offers something incredible, don’t trust them. They are very likely to scam you, leaving you with nothing in return.
· Be Skeptical
While it may not be in your nature to be skeptical, it’ll serve you well to approach everything relating to bail bonds with a dose of disbelief. If someone calls you and says that they are a bail bond agent, a long lost relative, or a policeman, don’t believe them. This is enough to deter a conman.
· Only Meet a Bail Bondsman at their Office
If someone claims to be a bail bondsman and asks you to meet them at a restaurant, it should raise red flags. Licensed bail bond agents only conduct business from an established office. They won’t call you to set up meetings in odd places for discussing bail.
· Never Give Out Your Personal Information
It is worth noting that a police officer or a member of a law enforcement agency will never ask for your personal information– like your credit card details – over the phone for posting bail. If anyone does this, they are trying to steal your money. Also, never give out your bank account information, address, social security number, or any other information to a person who claims to be a bail bond agent over the phone.
· Never Do Business with Those Who Lurk in the Shadows
Real bail bond agents will never approach you in the courthouse or jail. They are confident in their abilities and wait for clients to come to them. So never do business with a bail bondsman who approaches you with the promise to get you out of the dire situation.
· Don’t Pay over the Phone
A contract cannot be signed over the phone. For this and several other reasons, you must never make a payment for the bail over the phone. A genuine bail bond agent will always ask you to come and see them in their office so that you can go over the details and sign the contract. So be wary of people who ask you to make payments over the phone.
Bail bondsmen are hard-working individuals who ensure that everyone who has a legal right to be free on bail can be free. They are an essential part of the criminal justice system of our country. While the bail system isn’t perfect, some of its imperfections originate with the bail bond agent who does a tough job with determination. Their job gets even harder due to scammers who harm their reputation. Bail bond agents can’t do anything about tricksters, but you can help them by being vigilant to ensure that you don’t become a victim of someone posing as a bail bondsman.
If someone calls you, claiming to be a bail bond agent, don’t believe them. Never make payments over the phone and never give out your personal information to anyone. Moreover, don’t forget to fill the required paperwork when posting bail. By being aware of bail bond scams discussed above and following our advice, you should be able to save yourself from being scammed by con-men.
In case you are confused about something discussed above, feel free to shoot a query our way. We will be more than happy to assist you at the best of our abilities. After all, we as bail bond agents, care about our clients and don’t want them to be a victim of scammers.