There are more and more stories about bail bond fraud. I have some tips to keep your money safe and help prevent bail bond fraud.
There are bad apples in the bail bond industry just like any other business. Some are imposters pretending to be bail bondsmen and some are just shady bondsmen looking for a quick dollar. Whenever you contract with a bondsman, he or she should ask you personal information such as your name, address, contact information including family members. This information is used in case you need to be contacted for a defendant court date, etc.
Before you send money to the bondsman, the agent should get you to sign a bond application, an indemnity agreement and other forms specific to his agency or insurance company. Be weary of agents asking for payment without your information. The agent earn his or her money by making sure the defendant appear in court. How can the agent make sure the defendant will appear without the defendant information and yours as the cosigner. The cosigner will sign to indemnify the company if the defendant fails to appear.
The industry standard premium (payment) amount is 10%. Some may offer a payment plan and in some states a lower amount can be charged with the maximum percent not be over 15%. Laws on percentage charges is different per state but is standard at 10%. In some jurisdictions jails and counties may charge different types of taxes and fees.
In some cases, the bondsman may charge collateral to make sure the defendant appear in court. Collateral should not be more than the value of the bond. Most states have approved what the agent can take as collateral. The standard is cash, real estate and other financial instruments such as CD's. Make sure to get a receipt for both the bail premium (payment) and collateral. Most states require the agent give you one. Also, the company should be able to give you an initial receipt with the agent, bond agency and insurance company name on it. (most insurance companies have a specific receipt for both with their name pre printed on the receipt).
In most states, bail bondsmen are regulated by the Department of Insurance and/or the state law enforcement division. In states such as Texas and Georgia the agents are supervised by the local Sheriff or County Bondsman Board. If you are conducting the bond contract by phone and is not able to go to the bondsman office, ask for his/her license number. Then you are able to verify the identity and status of the bondsman license by contacting the regulatory authority in that state.
This article is not intended to give you legal advice. Please contact your attorney on your state specific bail laws. If you have any questions about this article or any bail bond issues, I am available to give you my opinion anytime. You may contact me at (864)232-4567 or email @ firstname.lastname@example.org