As with any industry, there can be bad actors looking to take advantage of a time when people can feel in crisis. While the vast majority of agencies are upstanding and reputable, it is still important to know the warning signs to avoid the bad ones. Here are the main points that can keep you from being the victim of a scam.
When a bail bond agency opens, they are required to go through a specific amount of training and pass exams to become licensed first. This is important because then you know that they have the knowledge and resources to quickly get your loved one out. Many agencies will have their licenses on the wall of their office but if you don’t see one you can always ask. Any reputable bail bondsman will have no issues showing it to you.
Bail bond agencies are typically open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This is because they need to assist with people getting arrested at all hours of the day and night and helping answer questions. This availability is the industry standard so any agency that just holds regular business hours or is not open on all days will tend to stick out. It may not be that they are not legitimate but it can still be concerning and in the least, they may not be able to assist right when it’s needed.
If they are coming to you, they aren’t reputable
This is perhaps the biggest warning sign of them all. If you end up coming to the jail and someone comes up to you offering to bond your loved one out of jail, just know that this is pretty much guaranteed to be a scam. Trustworthy bail bond agents would not be hanging out by jails and none would initiate contact with potential clients.
Reviews are key
As with any business, reviews are a golden opportunity to take advantage of the experience of previous customers. Reviews are great because they not only give a good insight into how a business operates but also show an overall snapshot of whether or not the majority of past clients were happy with their services. Google reviews is definitely the best place to look but places like Facebook reviews and Yelp are also helpful.
They can only charge a certain rate
Every state mandates how much can be charged when it comes to the bail bond industry and it is typically around 10%. This is important to know because when an agency says they can offer a discount that goes below this percentage or even tries to double or triple the percentage to 20 or 30 percent, they are operating illegally and should not be trusted.
Overall, it’s really rare for things like this to happen, but it is also very easy to know the warning signs that make these scams obvious. With these points in mind, you can feel good in knowing that you are going with someone who is honest and there to help you get your loved one released.