Often when people default on a debt or do something untoward, they “skip” town, leaving investigation teams to “trace” their whereabouts. This is where the term “skip tracing” comes from. Skip tracing essentially covers the act of tracking down an individual who doesn’t want to be found – and it’s an important part of our private investigator toolkit.
Who are the subjects of skip tracing cases?
Skip tracing cases are most commonly associated with debt collection, but they’re for more than just those who have defaulted on their debts. Other individuals may include court defendants or witnesses, those who have skipped bail, those being served with legal papers, and delinquent customers or clients.
The difficulty of a skip tracing case can depend on an individuals’ background – as well as how much they want to avoid being found. People with strong employment backgrounds, family ties and online presences tend to be much easier to track than those who lead more isolated, offline lives.
How is a skip tracing case conducted?
Private investigators working on a skip tracing case will tap into a variety of resources to track down the individual in question. These may include public records, property deeds, licenses and registrations, tax records, credit reports and custom industry databases. They may also make use of openly accessible online data including social media accounts or an individuals’ breadcrumb trail on the web. Other approaches include surveillance of particular places or neighborhoods of interest, and communication with colleagues, neighbors and friends and family close to the individual in question.
What information will a skip tracing case turn up?
The core intent of a skip tracing case is to locate an individual of interest. Their home or work address details, therefore are the most important piece of the puzzle. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a private investigator may present you with this information, along with phone or email details, personally identifying information and a report summarizing the findings. In some cases the individual may be arrested or served legal papers as necessary.
What happens if a person doesn’t want to be found?
Not everyone wants their personal address details shared, and in many instances they have the right to make that request. Due to privacy and legal restrictions, there are constraints on turning over personal information about a skip tracing subject over to an interested party. The person in question either needs to give consent to their contact details being passed on – or the investigating party needs to have a sound, defensible reason for beginning the investigation in the first place. Debt collection, serving legal papers or bail-skipping are all instances where this can be the case.
Skip tracing is something best left to the professionals
While some individuals might turn up with a quick online search, there are legal and ethical issues around contacting them – and around taking the next steps to collect on a debt, serve papers or apprehend an individual. For best results and your own peace of mind, we highly recommend leaving the skip tracing detective work to professional private investigators. You’ll be much more likely to find the person you’re seeking, and you’ll be able to rest assured that you’ve done so without overstepping any moral or legal boundaries.