How to Become a Recovery Agent
Welcome. So you just finished watching a show about bounty hunters (recovery agents) on TV or maybe one of the bounty hunter movies and you’ve decided that you want to be a recovery agent. By all appearances, it is an exciting and financially rewarding business and sometimes it is. But most of the time – it has to be one of worst jobs there is – long hours of surveillance that they never show on TV and extremely low and a lot of the time, even no pay. Remember, you don’t get paid if you don’t find the skip. There are very real hurdles that you must clear to become a recovery agent such as background checks, education classes and licensing. Then when you actually do a recovery, you face one of the most dangerous situations in law enforcement. You never know what’s behind the next door.
Someone has probably told you there was tons of money to be made as a bounty hunter. There is always a story about somebody finding a million dollar skip and making a hundred grand plus expenses. Not to be one to bust your bubble, but there are very few million dollar bonds written in this country and when one is written, it has so much collateral security attached to it the defendant can’t afford to run. As a matter of fact, most bail bonds written are going to be secured with some form of collateral or indemnity guarantee. Most of the skips recovery agents look for are in the one thousand to five thousand range and most bail agents pay ten percent recovery fees and no expenses. That’s the reason that almost any bail agent can probably name all the recovery agents in the whole country who are full time recovery agents and remotely successful. There’s probably another three hundred recovery agents who have profitable sideline recovery businesses. There is probably more money made teaching wannabe bounty hunter schools than there is in all of the recoveries!
The reason you can’t make reasonable money being a recovery agent is simple. Most bail agents do a very good job of making sure their defendants goes back to court. If the defendant goes to court there is no one to recover. Most of the time a defendant misses court; it’s some type of SNAFU, either with the court itself, the defendant’s lawyer or a simple mistake on the part of the defendant. The other truth is that when a defendant does actually fail to appear – most bail agents do their own recoveries. They won’t turn it over to a recovery agent until they know they can’t find the defendant.
OK! So your still bound and determined to be a recovery agent, well you’ve got a long hard road ahead of you if your not a retiring law enforcement officer. The reality is that bail agents are not going to hire you without experience and you can’t get experience if you can’t work. So, the first thing you have to do is find an existing recovery agent that you can work for (probably without the benefit of getting paid much) and get some experience. But wait; let’s talk about what it takes to be a recovery agent.
If you’re a convicted felon – it is more difficult and in some states impossible. Most bail agents are hiring felons as recovery agents anymore – you are too much of a liability if something goes wrong. If you look like a biker, a gangbanger or maybe even Wyatt Earp with your black hat and duster – you can go home too. No one is going to hire you – we don’t need that image around us, we want professionals who can get the job done – not TV characters who screw up and wind up on the ten o’clock news. OK, I know there are guys out there who look like that –as a matter some of the good ones do. But the reality is that they are former law enforcement or agents that have been doing this for a long time and are very good at what they do. Sad but true – they can get away with it and you can’t! Nobody ever said life was fair.
Many states now require licensing and they require that you attend a state specific school. You’ll need to check your state’s laws and make sure you do what is required. There are states where you can’t be a recovery agent, such as Arkansas, Florida, Texas and the non-bail states of Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin. If you get caught there, you’ll wind up in jail for kidnapping. And then there’s states like Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Nevada and a few more where if you don’t hold a license from that state, you’ll wind up in jail. No money in that! Of course, you also need to know about the Uniform Extradition Act and be sure you comply with it in each state. One word of caution – there’s a bunch of schools out there that will take a bunch of your money and only get you into trouble. Ask a lot of questions and get as many references as you can – and call the references. If you’re afraid to call the references, you’re looking at the wrong profession. Ask the bail agents you know which school they recommend.
OK – now back to finding you someone to work with. The reality is you will probably have to work for little or no money for a year or two. Once you’ve gotten some experience – don’t start sending e-mails and wasting money on letters to bail agencies. They just get thrown in the trash. The only way you’re going to get hired is through referrals. You’ll probably have to do some more work for someone you know and not get paid. I won’t even talk to a recovery agent that is not referred by another bail agent I know. The real truth of the matter is simple – if you don’t know any bail agents when you start – you are never going to get started. If you really want to make some money – you need to become a bail agent. If you really want to be a police, then join a police department. If you are still bound and determined to become a recovery agent – good luck! You’re going to need it.