A recovery agent tracks down people or property as a representative of law enforcement agencies or financial institutions. Recovery agents usually need to complete a training course and receive a license before they can practice in a given area. Some have backgrounds in law enforcement, while others do not. This work can be challenging and potentially dangerous.
One aspect of the work of a recovery agent can be tracking down people who have failed to appear in court after paying bail. Such people are said to be “skipping” bail. When bail has been paid by a bail agent on behalf of the accused, the bail agent may hire a recovery agent to bring the fugitive to justice. While bail agents do require collateral to issue loans, sometimes the full loan is not recoverable and the bail agent has an interest in getting the money back. These recovery agents must be able to effectively track people so they can be safely apprehended and brought to court.
Recovery agents are also hired by lenders to recover property being used as collateral for a loan. Most traditionally, recovery agents repossess cars, boats, and other property bought with a loan when the borrower stops paying. Borrowers may attempt to conceal movable property if they think that a recovery agent is coming. As a result, recovery agents need to be able to track property and verify its identity, even if the borrower has changed the property in some way.
In addition to tracking skills, recovery agents can also benefit from networking abilities that allow them to access information used in tracking down people and property. This work also requires good observational skills and alertness, as recovery agents need to be able to act quickly in dangerous situations. Failure to recognize a danger can result in injury to the recovery agent or to bystanders in the area.
Some recovery agents work on their own, while others work for agencies. Typically, they are paid in the form of a percentage of the total recovered. The work often does not include expenses and as a result, recovery agents are sometimes in a position to take a loss on a particular job. Working for an agency can provide a steady supply of work, as well as benefits, such as use of a company car, but agents employed by agencies also make less per job and this must be balanced when weighing employment options.