How to Become a Recovery Agent
So you just finished watching a show about bounty hunters (recovery agents) on TV or maybe one of the bounty hunter movies and you have 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 can be one of worst jobs there is; long hours of surveillance, which you rarely see on TV, and not always a lot of 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, educational 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 is behind the next door.
Someone has probably told you there was a lot of money to be made as a recovery agent. There is always a story about somebody finding a million dollar skip and making a hundred grand plus expenses. In reality, 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 is the reason that almost any bail agent can name all of the recovery agents in the country who work full time and are remotely successful. There is probably another three hundred recovery agents who have profitable sideline recovery businesses, such as teaching in a bounty hunter school.
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 go to court. If the defendant goes to court there is no one to recover. Many times a defendant misses court due to some type of situation; either with the court itself, the defendant’s lawyer or a simple mistake on the part of the defendant. When a defendant does actually fail to appear, most bail agents do their own recoveries vs. using a bounty hunter. Typically a bail agent will only turn the case over to a recovery agent if they know they cannot find the defendant themselves.
So if you are still bound and determined to be a recovery agent, you have a long hard road ahead of you. 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.
However, if you are a convicted felon, it is more difficult, and in some states impossible, to be a recovery agent. Most bail agents are not hiring convicted felons as recovery agents because they are too much of a liability if something goes wrong. If a you look like a biker, a gang-banger or a hudlum of some type, you can go home because the odds of you being hired are slim. No one wants to hire a recovery agent with that type of image; bail agents want professionals who can get the job done.
Many states now require licensing and require recovery agents to attend state specific schools for training. Individuals should check applicable state laws to see 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 a recovery agent gets caught in these states, they could be jailed for kidnapping. And then there are states like Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Nevada and a few more where if you don’t hold a license from that state, recovery agents could also wind up in jail. Recovery agents also need to know about the Uniform Extradition Act and to be sure they comply with it in each state.
When researching a recovery agent school, ask questions and get references of past school attendees. Don't waste your time or money in a school that may not give you the training you need to be successful. Many recovery agents work under another seasoned recovery agent for a year or two for not much money. The best way to be hired as a recovery agent by bail agents is through referrals. Recovery agents can make more money if they are also a bail agent, which grows their network of influence and potential clients.
Best of luck in the recovery agent arena!