Being granted the option to post bail in North Carolina after being arrested for a crime is a great opportunity for a defendant. Once temporarily out of jail, they can talk freely with their lawyer and work on their defense. Not everyone can afford to post bail, though. Some either choose to stay in jail while awaiting trial or they end up requiring the services of a bail bondsman in Concord.
During these situations, friends or family members of the accused may feel vulnerable. Unfortunately, people with bad intentions can exploit this vulnerability and pose as a fake bail bondsman and subject the defendant to a bail bond scam or bail fraud.
To avoid being a victim of a bail bond scam, keep in mind the following things:
1. Avoid anyone who’s offering a discount
Bail bonds are more affordable than posting bail yourself. Instead of paying the full price, you’ll only pay about 15 percent of the actual bail amount. The bail agent will post the bail in full, but will get their money back if you show up to all your court dates.
Even though bail bonds are already a less expensive option, someone posing as a bail bondsman might still offer you a discount. Beware of these people. Cheap bail bonds may sound like a good idea, but you also might be setting yourself up for a scam where the person offering the discount may not be a bail bond agent at all.
2. Only deal with licensed bail agents
Not just anyone can be a bail agent. A bail bond agent needs to be licensed in order to operate in North Carolina and other states that allow bail bonds. The bail agent must carry their license with them all the time. So, one sure-fire way to know that you’re not getting scammed is by dealing with a licensed NC bail bondsman. Always ask to see a bail agent’s license. If they refuse or get defensive, steer clear of them.
3. You’ll fill out paperwork
As with any legal transaction, the services of a bail bondsman require you to fill out paperwork. A real and trustworthy bail agent will sit the consignee down to fill out paperwork, ask for I.D., employment verification, and other information such as the collateral.
If there’s no paperwork whatsoever, be cautious.
4. Run an online background check
Almost everyone has some kind of an online presence today, even businesses. Just as you might check restaurant reviews before deciding where to eat, some background research on the bail agent or the bail bond company that you’re dealing with. What their previous clients say about them can be of huge help in making sure you’re dealing with someone trustworthy.
Speaking of trust, Amistad Bail Bonds is the leading provider of bail bonds in the Triangle Area of North Carolina. Since 2009, we have been helping families release their loved ones from jail.
5. Be wary of fraudulent tactics
Scams are everywhere and people who are in panic or desperate need are easy targets for fraudsters. The most effective way to avoid falling prey to bail bond scams is to know what to look out for.
Fraudulent individuals resort to all kinds of scams, but here are some of the most common tactics:
If someone calls you and says your husband got arrested, it’s easy to be consumed by panic and do as the caller tells you. If at any point in the conversation, the caller tells you they’re a bail bondsman and they can help you get your loved one out of jail, don’t engage. Hang up and call your husband. If he doesn’t respond, call relatives or friends he’s likely to be with. Failing this, call local lock-ups to see if he’s in any of them.
Legitimate bail bond agents never make cold calls. They only call family members on behalf of the arrested party. On the other hand, fraudsters make cold calls in an attempt to get money from panicked loved ones.
Bail bond agents don’t prowl the halls of jails, looking for family members in despair. Remember that you should be the one to get in touch with a bail bond agent, not the other way around. If someone claims to be a bail bond agent but solicits clients at jails and then acts urgent in a way that raises red flags, listen to your guts. If it feels false, it most likely is.
It’s impossible to sign a contract over the phone. Why, then, should you give someone who claims to be a bondsman money over the phone?
Bail bond agencies are located close to local lockups, and for good reason: they usually ask clients to visit their office to talk about the details.
Threatening and Abusive Behaviors
This may seem like something straight out of an action film, but some bail bond agencies resort to drastic measures to extort money. An article published by the New York Times narrates how a bail bond agency abducted their client and demanded payment from the person’s loved ones, so they ended up paying more than what they originally owed.
If a bail bond agency exhibits threatening or abusive behaviors, assert your rights. If your bondsman tries to detain you, for example, you have the right to look for a warrant of arrest. This is true even if you may have missed payments on the bond. Remember that you have signed a contract and in the event one of the parties fails to comply, you can take the legal route.
Avoid Bail Bond Scams: Work with a Reputable Agency
When you’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s hard to think straight, making you more vulnerable to scams. When a loved one is in jail and someone reaches out to you with an offer that seems too good to be true, wait a little bit more. Make sure everything is legitimate and work only with a reputable bail bond company.
For fast, professional, and trusted bail bond service, Amistad Bail bonds is available to you at any time of day. Contact us at 919-790-6887 for more information.