Skip-tracing is a general term for the process by which one locates a missing person. The “skip” referenced in this process is the person being traced. In general, a skip is someone who has left town for various reasons, such as large debt or legal problems. The person who actually performs the search is called the “skip-tracer.” Skip-tracing a missing person can be especially difficult if the person in question is trying hard not to be found and it can be vital to enlist the aid of a professional.
Primarily, skip-tracing involves researching absolutely everything about the missing person and then combing through this information for clues as to their current whereabouts. This can include pulling up the missing person’s internet activity, requesting legal documents, calling neighbors and employers and even accessing credit reports. A good skip-tracer will follow absolutely every possible lead until the missing person is found. In addition, skip-tracing even may involve the tracing of other third parties who have merely interacted with the missing person. An old roommate, for instance, may be researched in order to find more leads regarding the missing party.
Skip-tracing is invaluable in terms of debt collection. It can be difficult, if not impossible, for a company to pour the resources into locating a debtor. A collections agency utilizing skip-tracing methods can substantially streamline the process, saving time and money, as well as ultimately collecting the amount owed by the debtor on the company’s behalf.
While skip-tracing has long been the domain of professionals such as private investigators and debt collectors, it is also available to consumers and businesses via professional skip-tracing companies and collections agencies. These companies usually request general information about the person being traced, such as the person’s last known location, social security number and prior employers. All of the requested information isn’t necessarily required, but the amount of information given at the beginning of the search will often determine the ease and speed at which the person is found. Because skip-tracing utilizes readily available documents and even social engineering, skip-tracing itself is an entirely legal process.
Many collections agencies and skip-tracing companies now have proprietary software and databases, which have been developed using years of experience and expertise. In general, companies involved with skip-tracing maintain that almost everyone can eventually be found and that there is a very small percentage that successfully drop off the grid.
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