Information to Collect From Every Bail Applicant
Editor's note: This article was written by industry professional and guest contributor Jason Pollock. The views and opinions in this article are of the author and do not reflect the views of AboutBail. If you are interested in becoming a guest contributor, please contact us.
About the Author: Jason Pollock received his first glimpse into the mysterious world of Fugitive Recovery as an operator in 1999 and he is now the owner and operator of Surety Risk Management, a professional Bail Enforcement and Risk Management Agency based in Los Angeles, California. Jason has successfully located and apprehended approximately 1,700 “wayward bail clients” during his career as an operator, all with zero post-operation residual liability. He is the former owner of a bail bond company that never paid a single summary judgment to any court and he is currently working on his first book, a project that is now more than ten years in the making. Jason may be contacted at [email protected]
As long as you can verify that it is true, the more information you gather about a bail applicant, the better off you will be. If you determine that an applicant has lied to you about their identifiers or any other pertinent information, that deception could imply their intent to breach the Terms & Conditions set forth in the application for bail and other bond contract forms, including the intent to fail to appear in court.
You should always collect the following information from every single applicant, specifically to help prevent the client from jumping bail:
Ask applicants how they heard about your company. This will give you great insight as to how your advertising and marketing is working or failing for your company. You’ll also get a better idea as to where you should invest your marketing dollars in the future.
- Full Name:
Obtain the first, middle and last name of every applicant. If you have ever had the challenge of searching for someone who has a common first and last name, but you don’t have their middle name, any of their identifiers, or any other good information about them, then you know exactly the difficulty that I’m talking about. A middle name can be an identifier and will help you to weed out many of the “non-possibles.” It can also serve to help you narrow down your search a bit.
- Date and Place of Birth:
Find out exactly when and where the applicant was born. As far as the place of birth goes, find out the city and state where the applicant was born. If the applicant was born outside of the United States, find out the city, region, and country where the applicant was born. Many government records, especially criminal court records, are maintained by the subject’s name and date of birth, and you will need this information to conduct searches of those government records.
- Social Security Number:
It has been said that the Social Security Number (SSN), a 9-digit number assigned by the federal government to one person only, is the “most unique identifier.” I agree. The first 3 numbers indicate the state where the SSN was issued. Usually, but not always, the state where the Social Security Number was issued was where the subject was born. In cases where the subject is an immigrant, Social Security Numbers are issued in the state where the immigrant made a lawful entry into the United States.
While many government records are maintained in computers by a subject’s name and date of birth, most private records, such as credit reports, are maintained by a subject’s name and Social Security Number, backed up by a date of birth for security reasons. Many skip-tracing searches are executed using only the applicant’s Social Security Number. When searching for people through private records, I have found that using the SSN is usually the most powerful approach.
- I.N.S. A#:
If you are considering bailing out a client that is an alien, be sure to get that client’s I.N.S. A#, because there will be information on file about this client, at the federal level; and most certainly there will be an Immigration Court Case that this Client will have been a party to. You can also call the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) Automated Case Information Line at 1-800-898-7180 to “status check” that client’s court case and you will need the Client’s I.N.S. A# to do this.
- Email Address:
This can be a handy piece of information to have when conducting “social networking” investigations, “side-tracking” investigations or preparing a sting.
- Physical Description:
Write down the applicant’s height, weight, hair color and eye color. This information, combined with the applicant’s photograph(s), will help you when you need to search for wayward bail clients. Also determine whether the applicant is right-handed, left-handed or ambidextrous. This information will aid you in detecting deception from the applicant.
- Vehicle Descriptions:
Collect the color, year, make, model and license plate number for all vehicles that are associated with the applicant’s household. This information can help you locate difficult indemnitors and wayward bail clients.
- Current Phone Numbers:
Annotate every single current phone number for each applicant and indicate whether that phone is a land-line or a cell phone. Land-Lines will help you associate an applicant with an actual physical location, while it may be a little bit more difficult and expensive to do this with a cell phone.
- Current Residential Information:
Secure all of the following information about the applicant’s Current Residence:
- Street Address
- Building/Apartment Number
- Is the applicant buying or renting? From whom?
- How long has the applicant resided there?
- Who owns this property?
- What is your relationship to the property owner?
Also, obtain the exact same information about their most recent previous address.
- Proof of Residence:
Such as an electric bill, gas bill, phone bill (landline only, cell phones are not a good proof of residence), cable or satellite T.V. bill, mortgage bill, rental contract for an apartment, etc. You basically want something that ties that applicant into that physical address. Never accept a photocopy. Take the actual, original bill into your hands and make a photocopy for yourself. Bail Bond Clients can be some crafty individuals.
- Current Employer’s Information:
Secure all of the following information about the applicant’s Current Employer:
- Company Name
- Name of the Applicant’s “First-Line” Supervisor
- Company Phone Number
- Company Address (Physical, not Mailing)
- How long has the applicant been employed with this employer?
- Proof of Employment:
Such as paycheck stubs, Union Membership Documentation, maybe even their W-2 forms.
- The applicant’s work schedule:
If your applicant has a job, it’s nice to know when your applicant will be at work, as this information could help you to schedule a time or an “appointment” for apprehension. Most defendants usually go quietly and without incident when they are apprehended at their place of employment. They are usually caught off-guard, embarrassed and compliant, as they don’t want to look bad in front of their employers out of fear of possibly losing their jobs.
- List of References:
Get as much contact information from their references as you can. If the client cannot provide you with a complete address and phone number for that reference, then that person does not qualify as being a reference. If something doesn't check out, it might just be a simple fluke or it could be an indicator of where the defendant intends on hiding in the event of a failure to appear, so try to expand on that missing information.
- Information Concerning Previous Arrests:
Ask the applicant if he/she has any previous arrests, the date of arrest, the location of the arrest, the charge(s), the final outcome/disposition of the case and if they are currently on probation or parole. If the applicant has another court case, then there is another file that exists and intelligence can be gleaned from it.
- Information Concerning Previous Bonds:
Ask the applicant if they have ever been bailed out of jail, the date that he/she was bailed out of jail, which bail bond company bailed him/her out of jail and if they are still out on bond. If the applicant has been released on bond from another agency, then there is another file that exists and intelligence can be gleaned from it as well.
- High School Attended:
Ask the applicants which high school they attended, the last year that they attended this high school, what city and state that high school is in and the cross streets of where that high school is. The answers provided to these questions can easily be detected as disinformation.
Make sure that your applicant’s handwriting is neat and legible, otherwise, you may consider filling in the application yourself and then have the applicant sign in the appropriate places after the form(s) have been completely filled in. The information provided will be absolutely useless if you cannot read it.
Follow your intuition and pay attention to "indicators." You can discover many truths before the ink is even dry. If multiple things don't check out, you just might consider an early surrender/revocation. If a client is going to lie to my face, he or she is probably not intent on going to court and fulfilling contractual obligations. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Additional articles on bail applicants
- Information to Collect From a Bail Applicant's References
- 10 Types of Collateral and Tips to Secure It
- Mandating Check-ins for Your Bail Client
Stay tuned for more tips on how you can prevent clients from jumping bail.
Become a guest contributor
This article was written by an industry guest contributor. If you are interested in being a guest contributor or have an article suggestion, please contact us.