Jeff Downer There seems to be a great deal of interest from people about becoming a bounty hunter. It is not as simple a process as some may believe and the nature of the job is often misunderstood. What follows is a description of the process here in Indiana and some thoughts about pursuing this type of work.
Perhaps the the first thing to understand is that within the commercial bail industry the term “Bounty Hunter” is discouraged. The use of “Recovery Agent” is preferred and recognized as the professional designation for those who locate and apprehend fugitives for bail bond companies.
It should not be surprising that recovery agents and their activities are strictly regulated. The work can at times be dangerous for the agent, the fugitive as well as the public. Almost every state mandates recovery agents to be licensed and the licensing requirements can vary greatly from state to state. Below are the licensing requirements per the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI):
All applications must include:
- A recent digital full face photograph and your signature on the specimen sheet to be included on your license. If you prefer, pictures can be taken in our office by appointment only.
- Certified fingerprint card from local law enforcement, or a receipt from L-1 Identify Solutions showing that you have been fingerprinted.
- Recent Credit Bureau Report (Free): http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
- Criminal History Check completed by Indiana State Police.
- Photo copies of other Professional Licenses that you hold.
- Application fee of $650 (check or money order).
- Completion Certificate for 12 credit hours of Pre-Licensing Education.
- Passing test results.
In addition there is a $100 testing fee.
After meeting all of the requirements and assuming no disqualifying conditions exist, a license will be awarded. For application forms and further information on recovery agent licensing, here is the link to the IDOI Recovery Agent licensing web page. The Indiana recovery agent license must be renewed every two years by completing continuing education requirements and paying a $300 renewal fee.
Acquiring the license is just the first step. Getting work comes next. Any and all fugitives are not fair game for every recovery agent. Agreements need to be made with the bonding companies seeking any particular fugitive. Competition for these agreements can be fierce. An aspiring agent needs to understand what the bonding companies are looking for in a recovery agent in order to develop working relationships with them.
Recovery is all about locating and apprehending fugitives, not confrontation and intimidation. Bonding companies want recovery agents who understand concepts like:
- The importance of qualities like interpersonal skills and diligence instead of kicking in doors.
- High tech skills mean effective online skip tracing and not utilizing the latest in laser gun sights.
- Weapons and personal protection gear are intended to provide agent safety and are not a green light for aggressive high risk behavior.
Bottom line is bonding companies want agents who can work with law enforcement instead of being arrested by them. Avoiding lawsuits is a best practice as well.
There is one final item bonding companies value and it is the most important: experience. Gaining experience may not as difficult as it sounds. Recovery work is often a team activity, allowing newly minted agents opportunities to find and work with proven recovery agents out in the field.