To:           General Bail Bond Agents, Bail Bond Agents, and Missouri Courts

From:    Mary Kempker, Director of the Consumer Affairs Division, Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration

Date:        October 5, 2006

The Consumer Affairs Division of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) seeks to provide guidance for individual bail bond agents doing business under any name other than their own name. Fictitious names can take the form of marketing names or doing business as names. This bulletin outlines the division’s position on this issue.

General bail bond agents and bail bond agents, doing business in this state, are required to be licensed. Individuals, upon receiving approval of their application from the Department, are licensed to conduct business in this state with a license bearing his/her individual name.

Over the years, many agents have conducted bail bond business under a “marketing name” (used in a general sense to encompass all variations of such), as opposed to using the name that appears on their license with the Department. Tracking bonds and unpaid forfeitures is difficult because the agent holds licensure with the Department under his/her individual name but uses a different name when writing bonds in the court system. This misuse of a marketing name can result in uncollectible forfeitures.

All general bail bond agents are required to secure a duly executed assignment of $10,000 to the state of Missouri , usually taking the form of a certificate of deposit. This requirement provides a minimum amount of security against unpaid forfeitures. The process of seeking collection against this certificate of deposit is a combined effort between the Department and Missouri courts. The courts notify the Department of unpaid forfeitures, and the Department works with them in using the $10,000 assignment to help defray the costs associated with those forfeitures. However, should a bail bond agent use a marketing name in writing bond with a court, but maintain licensure with the Department under an individual name, collection of forfeitures is confused.

It is the view of the Consumer Affairs Division that any use of a marketing name that does not clearly communicate the name of the properly licensed general bail bond agent would constitute misconduct or misrepresentation. Misconduct or misrepresentation in the performance of the functions of a bail bond agent may result in an action by the director to discipline the agent’s license.

As such, bail bond agents are required to conduct business under the names by which they use to maintain licensure with the Department, or use a generally recognizable version of such name. This generally recognizable version of such name must be in a form that the Department, Missouri courts, and the general public recognize as a licensed agent. This will enable Missouri courts to easily monitor who is writing bonds in their courts, disable those bail bond agents that do not maintain current licensure with the Department and curtail those agents that have unsatisfied forfeitures with the courts from writing additional bonds.