Skip Tracing

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Skip Tracing

Looking to locate the whereabouts of a debtor, individual, or company?
Let Debtor Inspector’s skip tracing reports help you to uncover where they may be hiding.

The Debtor Inspector Difference

Debtor Inspector has been perfecting its skip-tracing intelligence for over 20 years.

Our proprietary software utilizes a custom algorithm that compiles and verifies public and private records in real-time, from over 2,777 sources, so you can physically locate a debtor, individual, or company faster.

Whether you’re experienced in skip tracing or are just getting started, Debtor Inspector can assist you in “Putting the pieces of the puzzle together” by answering any questions you have.

Skip-Tracing 101

Skip Tracing is done to locate a company or individual (usually a debtor) who cannot be found.

The Skip trace process involves more than just general internet research. A true skip-trace requires a “deep dive” investigation into an individual or company’s personal and financial history to determine their whereabouts.

Before you begin your skip trace search, it’s important to understand what’s involved so you can successfully locate someone who may be intentionally trying to hide from you.

What Is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is the practice of finding and “tracking down” (i.e. “tracing”) individuals or companies who are missing, or unresponsive.

It’s unclear exactly where skip tracing got its name, but the term is commonly acknowledged to have been derived from an old expression of someone “skipping town” (i.e. leaving town) because they did not want to be found.

In past times, the best chances you had of finding someone who “up and left” was to “ask around town” or to post a WANTED flyer.

Today, skip tracing involves using a multitude of public and private sources and investigative methods to locate an individual or company.

Some of the information you can uncover while doing a skip trace search includes:

  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Past physical addresses
  • Social media accounts
  • Credit reports

While both public and private records are used in skip tracing, investigators may still resort to “asking around town” and will personally interview friends, family, and associates, to locate a debtor or individual who has disappeared.

How Does Skip Tracing Work?

Skip tracing intelligence providers work to find individuals and companies who have disappeared by gathering and analyzing information from various sources to create a “trail” that can be “traced”. This trail is often traditionally referred to as a “paper trail” or, sometimes a “digital footprint” when referring to the tracking of a person’s online activities. “Following the trail” will eventually lead to a physical location.

Below are some common steps that are involved in the skip-tracing process:

  1. Collecting information: The first step in skip tracing is to gather as much information as possible about the person being sought. This may include their full name, date of birth, Social Security Number, last known address, phone number, email address, place of employment, and other relevant details.
  2. Analyzing information: Once the information has been collected, the person performing the skip trace (aka a “skip tracer”) will examine the intel to identify any patterns or clues that can lead to a location. This may involve looking for discrepancies in the information or cross-checking it against public records, social media, or other sources.
  3. Interviewing associates: Skip tracers may also interview family members, friends, or associates of the person or company being sought to gather first-party information that can lead to their whereabouts.
  4. Verifying information: Once a potential location has been discovered, skip tracers will often take steps to confirm that the data is correct. This may involve conducting surveillance, performing a background check, or contacting the person directly.

When Should You Use Skip Tracing?

While skip tracing is mainly used to find debtors, it has other use cases as well.

Skip tracing can be helpful anytime you need to locate an individual or company that is difficult to find.

Some examples where skip tracing can be used include:

  1. Process serving: To help locate individuals who need to be served legal documents, such as subpoenas, summons, divorce papers, or complaints.
  2. Asset recovery: To locate individuals who have defaulted on loans or have hidden assets that need to be recovered.
  3. Missing persons: To locate missing persons, such as runaway children, or elderly relatives.
  4. Previous Relationships: To locate long-lost loves or friends.

What Professions Use Skip Tracing?

In reality, anyone can use skip tracing and become a “skip tracer” in the process!

However, certain industries use skip tracing more than others.

Industries and professions most likely to use skip tracing on a somewhat regular basis include:

  1. In-house Collections Departments and Agencies
  2. Attorneys – Namely, Divorce Attorneys who want to serve papers as well as Wills, Trusts, and Estate Lawyers
  3. Private Investigators
  4. Contract Tracers – These are people who work in public health and are looking to locate an individual who may have a health issue that is dangerous to the public
  5. Bail Bondsman/”Bounty Hunters”
  6. Repossessions (aka“Repo Men”)
  7. Federal or local government officials
  8. Journalists
  9. Insurance Companies
  10. Surety Bond Companies
  11. Buy Here-Pay Here Automotive Sales
  12. Judgment Debtor Purchasers
  13. Consumer Debt Purchasers
  14. Music Stores (that rent out instruments)
  15. Banks, Credit Unions, and Online Payday Loan Companies
  16. Auto Title Loan Companies

How Long Does A Skip Trace Take To Perform?

A skip trace’s timeline is dependent on how much available information is at hand when you first begin your search.

Also, since an individual’s personal and financial information can change, it may take some time for this intel to be updated.

For this reason, a skip trace can take anywhere between a day, to several months.

What Skip Tracing Techniques Do We Use?

Here at Debtor Inspector, our difference lies not just in our software and the intelligence it provides but also in our strategy, and experience behind our investigative methods.

To familiarize yourself with our techniques, let’s first discuss how our data differs.

Our Software and Data

Debtor Inspector’s proprietary software utilizes a custom algorithm to compile and verify public and private records in real-time, from over 200 sources.

Unlike our competitors, our software does not require a Social Security Number. Generally speaking, you can perform a successful skip trace as long as you know the last address, phone number, and full legal name of the person you are looking for.

As far as past employment searches are concerned, most employers won’t disclose employee information. However, here at Debtor Inspector we can extract employment information via third parties.

Furthermore, we also have the ability to find bank accounts as long as they are in good standing

Our Investigative Methods

Debtor Inspector’s Skip Trace Reports are designed as a “DIY” solution for anyone looking to perform a skip trace. However, you don’t have to go at it alone.

Debtor Inspector provides Support Services for anyone seeking help with their skip trace efforts.

With a track record of over 20 years, our team of experienced investigators has employed various analytical techniques to interpret data that can be used to locate missing individuals and companies.

Below are some of the analytical techniques our investigators use (and that you can use as well!) to locate individuals and companies who have “Gone off the radar”:

  1. Social Network Analysis: Social network analysis focuses on examining relationships and interactions between individuals or entities within a real-world or online network. It involves analyzing connections, such as friendships, collaborations, or communication patterns, to understand social structures, influence, or information flow.
  2. Financial Analysis: Financial Analysis is where one “Follows the money”. Tracking things like bank accounts, transactions, and withdrawals can lead to a location of an individual or company. In cases where fraud is involved, forensic accounting techniques may be applied. Forensic accounting is a type of accounting practice that specializes in combining accounting principles with investigative techniques inorder to identify suspicious activities.
  3. Textual Analysis: Textual analysis involves analyzing written data, such as documents, emails, social media posts, or news articles, to extract meaningful insights behind themes, sentiments, or relationships within text data.

No matter what type of analysis is performed, you should always pay attention to:

  • Patterns
  • Chronological events
  • Relationships

Knowing what to look for is crucial if you want to predict future events that could lead to the whereabouts of an individual or company.

How Much Does Skip Tracing Cost?

Debtor Inspector’s skip tracing reports range anywhere from 99 cents -$14.97. We also offer subscriptions that range from $147- $377 a month.

Other skip-tracing report providers require minimums and/or lock you into contract terms. Here at Debtor Inspector, you can buy individual reports with no minimums, and you cancel your monthly subscriptions at any time.

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is legal but you must make sure to abide by all the laws and regulations surrounding it.

Some laws that need to be taken into consideration while performing a skip trace include privacy laws, debt collection laws, credit laws, state laws (which vary from state to state), and federal laws.

One law, for example, The FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) sets guidelines for debt collectors in the United States. It prohibits certain practices, such as harassment, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices. Skip-tracing activities that violate the FDCPA or other applicable laws can result in legal penalties and damages.

This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, employment, or tax advice.

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