Bail Bondsman Scam Alert
A bail bondsman is a person licensed in an individual state to post the bond necessary to secure a criminal defendant’s pretrial release. When someone is arrested and arraigned for a criminal charge, the judge who presides over the arraignment is charged with setting bail.
If surety bail is set, opposed to personal recognizance or no bail at all, the defendant must post sufficient financial resources to meet the surety amount, or do so using the services of a bondsman.
There have been recent scams conducted by unknown persons claiming to be bail bondsman seeking to defraud people of their money. If you receive a random call, text, or email from someone claiming that your loved one is incarcerated and that a bail bondsman requires money to secure their release, do not be fooled into sending them any money.
While you may be tempted to assist a friend or loved one who you believe to be in need, verify the information first.
Ask for information regarding:
- the arresting police department
- pending charges
- the court where the case is pending
- confinement facility where the person is being held
If the caller cannot provide you with this information, you will have exposed the scammer and avoided any financial loss. You can also try contacting your loved one or friend. If you make contact, this will quickly dispel any concerns of incarceration. If you are unsuccessful, use the information you receive from the person claiming to be a bondsman, assuming any information is provided, to verify that the person is truly incarcerated.
If and when you verify the person is incarcerated, the next step is to verify the identity and credentials of the bondsman. Some fraudsters claim to be bondsman in the hope of swindling innoncent people out of money.
Some actual bondsmen impersonate other bondsman, or pretend to be their competitors, to get business. The bail bonds business is highly competitive and often cut throat by providers.
Ask for identification
The main point here is to make sure you know who you are dealing with. Ask for identification, a business card, a phone number, an email address, and other identifying information, such as web address, business address, business contact information, and more.
Lastly, if you elect to use the services of a bondsman, be sure to ask for a receipt for any money paid, to ensure you have proof that you actually paid the bondsman. This way if your loved one’s bail bond is not posted, you can file a professional complaint against the bondsman and seek a refund.
True bail bondsmen are available to help at a time when you are in need
Do not be afraid to contact or work with a bondsman when posting bail. However, when dealing with a bondsman, especially for the first time, do not hesitate to ask questions to educate yourself about the family member’s or friend’s legal matter, as well as the bondsman’s experience, contact information and credentials.
A good bondsman will happily answer your questions to educate you about the legal system, pending legal matter, the process of post bail, and of course, his or her experience and credentials in the bail business.