Everything You Wanted to Know About Skip Tracing

Considering the scale of debt in the United States, chances are that if you are a business owner, you have had to deal with delinquent accounts. And if you have found it difficult to recover this money, you may have even considered using the services of a debt collector.

Before partnering with one, you may want tolook at the common terms to know regarding debt collection – so as to approach the matter from an educated position. Currently, it’s estimated that there are over 4,000 debt collection agencies stateside alone, with an industry recovery rate of less than 20 percent.

The chances of a successful recovery are dependent on multiple factors. One of these is how old the debt is. As you can imagine, recovery is easier if the debt is fresher. But when a case is colder and the customer is more difficult to track, collection agencies use an interesting technique called skip tracing to trace people and their assets.

The Origin of the Term

Believe it or not, the term skip tracing comes from the idiomatic phrase “skipped town”. When a non-payer “skips” town, investigators using “skip” tracing to locate them.

Skip Tracing is Used by Multiple Professions

Aside from debt collectors, skip tracing is used by bounty hunters, lawyers, detectives, journalists, private investigators, bail bondsmen, and others. These people serve courts, businesses, insurance companies, and even landlords.

On a side note, stalkers have also been known to use the technique, so it’s always best practice to safeguard your information.

Information Makes Skip Tracing Work

To start tracing the person who owes you, your debt collector will gather as much information as possible. This encompasses publicly available information such as tax records, driver’s licences, marriage licenses, as well as any personal identifiers you can legally share with them. This includes the full name, age, sex, date of birth, social security information, and last known address. Other useful information may include a customer’s assets like a house or a car.

Verifying Information Is Crucial

The best debt collectors will cross-check your customer’s information to make sure it’s correct. Often, using the right spelling of names and addresses or having access to nicknames can mean the difference between success and failure.

The Information Is Fed into Databases

Once a debt collector has gathered the data, they use a list of databases to locate their target. These include databases belonging to employers, air travel companies, job banks, vehicle registration departments, credit bureaus, and even utility companies. Professional skip tracers also have access to specialized databases like those kept by investigators and those maintained by their affiliates.

Sometimes It’s All Online

If you have ever found an old friend on social media, then congratulations, you are something of a skip tracer. Websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn all come in handy for debt collectors. Then, there are genealogy and people finder pages that can also aid in the process.

Hiding May Not Be Enough

A debt collector may locate your customer even if they change their name on social media by tracking them through their associates and family members. When facing a skilled collection agency, a customer can hide but may find it hard to completely disappear.

Image Credits: Skip Tracing from rendeep kumar r /Shutterstock

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