Typically, it’s not too difficult to track down someone who owes you money. Most customers who fail to pay for a good or service can be reached by phone or email, and if all else fails, can be located at their physical address.

However, sometimes people don’t want to be found. This can complicate your ability to collect on your debt.

That’s where skip tracing comes in.

What is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is a location tracking process used to determine a person’s whereabouts. Skip tracing is commonly used by debt collectors, private investigators, real estate investors, lawyers, detectives, and journalists. When used as a debt collection tactic, skip tracing helps locate debtors who have left or “skipped” town.

While some debtors skip town to evade payments, not all vanish with intent. Address changes can lead to missed mail, especially if the person fails to leave a forwarding address. It’s also not uncommon for people to change their email or phone number. Skip tracing is typically only necessary when a person fails to respond to repeated attempts to contact them via phone or email.

Tracking down debtors is not only helpful for ensuring payments are received by creditors, but it also gives debtors a chance to make a payment before their credit score is affected.

How Does Skip Tracing Work?

Skip tracing involves several steps. The primary goal is for the skip tracer to gain as much information about the person of interest as possible.

So how does skip tracing work? The skip tracee is located by the skip tracer, who employs a variety of tactics using public and private records to locate the tracee. Skip tracers will utilize everything from Credit Reports and Background checks to meta-data and social media accounts.

As a starting point, skip tracers look at the information their client provides them. That way, they can verify the information and make a note of any misinformation. If they need more information, which often is the case, skip tracers will turn to public and private records, including but not limited to:

  • Credit Reports
  • Loan Applications
  • Criminal Background
  • Checks
  • Job Applications
  • Court Records
  • Utility Bills

If none of the above information generates a lead, the skip tracer will reach out to the debtor’s close contacts, including friends, family members, and coworkers.

Where skip tracing gets tricky is when the person doesn’t want to be found. A person on the run is likely to change locations frequently and may have burner phones and fake email accounts. That’s why it’s important for skip tracers to have real-time data or as close to it as possible to help locate a debtor. Luckily, public and private record search engines and databases offer skip tracers a tool to do so.

In addition, skip tracers now have an invaluable resource that they previously did not: the internet. The rise of social media means that most people aren’t entirely off the grid. By performing a quick internet search, most skip tracers can find useful information in a matter of minutes. And when skip tracers need a high volume of data, they’re likely to run a batch skip trace, which can yield hundreds of online results.

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is legal when a hired and licensed professional, like a private investigator, bounty hunter, or an attorney, such as Hanna & Jarbo, performs it.

While nothing stops the average Joe from scouring someone’s social media and public records to track someone, access to private information typically requires a license or completion of a credentialing process. Lawyers are typically the best resource for investigating private records, due to their direct access to legal procedures that would require a court.

When Should I Use a Skip Tracer?

Skip tracing is not only helpful in tracking down non-payers, but it can also help locate missing persons or persons of interest in a criminal or legal case. In addition to debt collectors, lawyers, landlords, corporations, and private citizens can also make good use of a skip tracing service.

For example, a private citizen may want to hire a private investigator to perform a skip trace to locate a missing child or a relative they’ve lost contact with over the years. Similarly, an attorney may want to perform a skip trace to locate a key witness in a case. Overall, skip tracing is an invaluable tool for locating people, if they wish to be found or not.

Do you need a skip tracer?

Hanna and Jarbo Debt Collection, PLLC., is a professional debt collection law firm offering skip tracing services. We skip trace for creditors, agencies, and even other attornies. If you need high-quality, fast skip tracing services, contact us today!