Let’s face it, scams are just about everywhere. Whether it’s online shopping or shady phone calls, you always have to watch your back to avoid getting ripped off. When it comes to bail bonds, this is no different. And if you’ve never applied for bail before, you’re probably not aware of some of the tactics that these scammers will use. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the top tips for avoiding bail bond scams. If you have any questions, be sure to speak with our dependable bail bondsmen in Oklahoma City at Break Free Bail Bonds.
HOW TO AVOID A BAIL BOND SCAM
ALWAYS ASK FOR A LICENSE
The number one way to differentiate a legitimate bail bond company from a scammer is to ask them for their license. Oklahoma law determines who can and cannot be a bondsman according to Title 59, Chapter 33. Bail bondsmen are regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and it is illegal to operate as one without proper licensing. If you want to double check, you can even search the bondsman by name on the Oklahoma Bondsman Association website.
AVOID THE “MESSENGER” TRICK
In order to look more credible, scammers may use a licensed bondsman’s website in order to coax you into trusting them. Bail bondsmen never have a “messenger” or debt collector who comes directly to you. Make sure you make any payments directly to the bail bond company rather than relying on someone else to get it done for you. This is a surefire way of getting scammed.
LEARN ABOUT THE COMPANY’S HISTORY
It’s unlikely that a scammer will be able to make up information about their company’s history. Aside from looking at their website, you should ask the bail bondsman directly how they got started and what their process is. Your bail bondsman should be informed about the bail bond laws within the state and county that they operate in.
ASK FOR A RECEIPT
Bail bondsmen are required by law to provide everyone with a receipt of their transaction. The receipt can be helpful for both the defendant or the bail bond company in case something goes wrong in court and you need evidence of payment. Even if you don’t suspect the bail bond company of scamming you, you should always ensure you get a receipt.
BAIL BONDS ARE USUALLY PREDICTABLE
Since bail bond companies are so heavily regulated by the state, you’re never going to find something that sounds too good to be true. If you’re being offered really great deals on a bail bond, you’re probably being scammed.
EXPECT SOME PAPERWORK
A real bail bond company will ask for employment verification, your I.D., references, and more. You’ll need to fill out some paperwork and have your cosigner fill out paperwork along with proof that they can financially support the bond. If there is no paperwork to fill out or your bail bondsman is glossing over the details, you may be getting scammed.
UNDERSTAND CASH ESCROW
If you’re dealing with a high-risk bond or there is no cosigner available to sign, a cash escrow is used. The escrow will secure the bond if the defendant never shows up to court. This money will be held by the bail bond company and reported to the Oklahoma Insurance Department. If the defendant never shows up to court, these funds will be used to hire a bounty hunter and pay the court. However, if the defendant shows up to all court proceedings, that money should be returned to the defendant. Otherwise, a complaint can be filed with the OID.
NEVER COSIGN FOR SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW
It’s not just the defendant who can get scammed with bail bonds. If you’re going to cosign for someone on a bail bond, make sure it’s a family member or someone that you know well. If the defendant never shows up to court, you’ll be left to foot the bill. The bail bond company will file a civil action against you and it will reflect negatively on your credit history.
These are just a few of the signs you should look for in order to avoid a bail bond scam. If you’d like to speak with a reputable bail bond company, contact Break Free Bail Bonds today.