You want to do everything possible to help a loved one in need, no matter what. If your loved one has been arrested, you may immediately make plans to have them released. Doing so usually involves arranging for bail, but you must use care not to get taken by bail scams. Read on to learn about some common scams perpetrated by those eager to take advantage of helpful relatives during stressful times.
Bail Bonding Schemes
Make no mistake about it—bail bonding companies offer people a wonderful service. Without a bail bonding company, those arrested would have to pay the exorbitant full bail before they could be released from jail. By paying a fraction of the bail, your loved one is free to go. Most bail bond companies are reputable and work closely with the nearby jails and courthouses to provide this service. Good bail bonding companies are pretty easy to find, but unscrupulous scammers pretending to be bonding agents are turning a legitimate service into a way to rip off the vulnerable loved ones of the accused.
Calls from Fake Bonding Agents
In most cases, you will be informed of your loved one's arrest when they phone you themselves. Unfortunately, bond scammers are more likely to phone you instead of your loved one and ask you to arrange bail. When you get such a phone, it's vital that you verify the information. Ask to phone the bonding agent back and call the correctional facility yourself. They can tell you about the status of a loved one and about any bail opportunities. Do some research online to ensure the bonding agency is real. If they are local, do some checking with the courthouse and the Better Business Bureau before you give them any money. Never provide payment information over the phone without checking on the agency.
Why Do the Scammers Know So Much?
One of the problems with this and other types of scams is that the caller knows details about your loved one. This adds a false sense of security to the transaction. In fact, the information about arrests is available to anyone with a computer or smartphone. Most agencies make arrests information public and scammers can learn about the full name, birth date, amount of the bail, the charges, and even view a photo of the person arrested.
Bailing Out a Loved One From Afar
Most scammers prey on distant relatives, geographically speaking. They know it's more difficult to verify information when you are hundreds of miles away from your loved one. If a loved one is in jail, always call the jail first. If you wish to bail them out, phone several bonding agencies and ask about doing business over the phone. It is possible to send payment information and sign agreements using email, but it should be you that makes the phone call and not the bonding agent.
For more information, reach out to bail bond services near you.