When someone you care about is arrested, you naturally want to help them get out as quickly as possible. The hours or days following an arrest can be a trying time with a lot to worry about. Your loved one in jail will probably be upset, anxious to get home to their family, perhaps worried about missing work or other obligations. You and other family members may be angry, upset, or embarrassed. It's a hectic time, and that can unfortunately lead to less-than-perfect decision making. A good, reputable bail bondsman can be genuinely helpful at a time like this, but, unfortunately, there are also people that may try to take advantage of your situation. Take a look at some things you need to know to ensure that you don't fall for any tricks while arranging bail.
Beware of Cold Callers
The first thing that you need to be wary of is any bail bondsman who contacts you first. It's illegal for bail bondsmen to cold call you to solicit your business, so this is a big red flag that you're not talking to an ethical bondsman. There's also always the possibility that they aren't a bail bondsman at all, and that it's a scam to get your credit card information or to get you to wire money somewhere. Play it safe – only do business with a bail bondsman that you contacted first.
Speaking of solicitation, it's also against the law in most places for bail bondsmen to solicit inside the jail. Jails try to prevent this by requiring bondsmen to fill out forms explaining how they were contacted, but unscrupulous bondsman may put down false information, as happened in a large illegal solicitation case in Orange County, CA. Let your loved one know not to enter into any arrangements with a bail bondsman who approaches them while in jail.
Don't Fall For A Cheap Rate
Everyone likes to save money, and bail is usually an unexpected and unwelcome expense, so it's no surprise that many people are drawn in by a cheap rate. But bail bondsmen ordinarily charge about 10% of the bail amount set by the court, and in some states, 10% is the minimum they're allowed to charge.
A company that's advertising a deeply cut rate may be running afoul of the state laws. Or they may be setting you up for a bait and switch – they take a lower percent of the bail amount in cash or on a credit card, then finance the remaining percentage. You'll end up having to pay the financed portion back with interest, costing you more than it would have just to get an ordinary 10% bail bond. That may not be illegal, but it's not very ethical either. Read the fine print before entering into any agreement, and be skeptical of a bail bondsman with an unrealistically cheap fee.
Check the License
The best way to be sure that you're dealing with an established and reputable bail bondsman is to check their licensing information before entering into an agreement. Bail bonds are considered a form of insurance, so they're usually regulated by your state's Department of Insurance.
You should be able to look up your bail bondsman on the Department of Insurance website. In many cases, you can look up the information with the name of the bail bondsman company if you don't have the license number, so you can even check before you call the bail bondsman. You'll be able to see the license number, whether the license is active or inactive, and the expiration date on the license.
Arranging to have your loved one bailed out may be stressful and upsetting, but don't let the stress prevent you from using good judgment when looking for a bail bondsman. There's definitely a reputable and reliable bail bonds company in your area that can help get your loved one out of jail. Check out websites like http://absolutebailbond.com/ to help you find a bail bonds company.