The bail bond process is a right ensured by the Constitution. The process and fees associated with a bail bond are also heavily regulated in most states. Any fee or procedure that deviates from the regulations is likely fraudulent. Anyone posting bail should be aware of the regulations of their state, and if they are unsure about the practice, an attorney may help them.
General Ways to Avoid Scams
Since the bail bond process is heavily regulated, defendants have many ways to ensure that the agency they are working with is legal and true about posting bail. An agency must be licensed, so it is a good idea to always check this before working with a bail bondsmen. The bail bondsman should also be someone who works frequently with the jail and the courts, so it is very likely they will be known. The courthouse may be able to provide a list of reputable agencies in the local area for help with posting bail. Most agencies position their offices as close to the courthouse as possible, so any agency claiming to be a bail bond provider that is not reasonable close to the court should be suspect. One of the best ways to avoid scams is to allow an attorney to find a bondsman on the defendant’s behalf. Attorneys frequently work out the bail arrangements for their clients, and will have a list of reputable bail bonds agencies.
Cold Calls from Bail Bondsmen
A bail bondsmen typically cannot solicit their services directly. They also have very little reason to contact random individuals by phone. A bondsman waits to be contacted by someone who has recently been through a bail hearing and requires a bond to post bail. Contacting a person before that has occurred makes little sense. Any contact initiated by someone claiming to be a bail bondsman should be considered highly suspect. The scam may attempt to get the victim to pay for some kind of bond insurance or other fee. No such fees are valid, and such attempts are illegal in most states. Generally, no business should be conducted with a bail bondsman that initiates contact.
Bail Bondsmen Soliciting in Jails
This is a common scam that preys on the hopes of those already in jail without bail. Those perpetrating this scam will often promise to post bail in exchange for a small fee paid on the spot. They will often offer extremely low rates to encourage desperate people to take the offer. Similar to cold calling from a bail bondsmen, this is a form of contact that is generally illegal. A true bail bondsmen will never initiate contact with a person inside a jail.
Bail Bondsmen Requesting Payment Before Defendant is Released
A bail bond agency makes money based on fees paid by clients. The bail bondsman will post the required fee to the court and then request a fee as percentage of the cost of bail. A true bail bondsman will request proof the bail amount and will not charge an arbitrary fee before the defendant is released. Any bondsman that attempts to collect a fee before doing this is likely committing fraud and may not actually post the bond to release the defendant.
By being aware of scams and having an understanding of the bail process, everyone can scams. The bail bond process should be predictable and without any mysteries or unknowns.