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How Skip Tracing Works – The Basics

Imagine you own a company that operates in an industry well known for bad debts. It is fairly common for you to have to turn to attorneys and collection agencies to get unpaid debts collected. It is not pleasant, but it’s part of doing business. At any rate, would you know what your collection agency was talking about if one of your discussions turned to the topic of skip tracing?

Skip tracing is just one tool utilized by debt collection agencies. It is also popular with bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, private investigators, and others. The most skilled among them can take very little information and massage it until it leads directly to the person in question.

Utah-based Judgment Collectors, a Salt Lake City judgment collection agency that operates in six states, says that skip tracing is amazingly effective in the hands of a skilled debt collector. It is even better when combined with proprietary tools and databases. If this sounds interesting to you, keep reading to learn the basics of how skip tracing works.

What It Means

For starters, the term is derived from the meanings of each of the two words separately. ‘Skip’ refers to people who skip town (or move) to avoid contact. The tracing component is self-explanatory. Therefore, the practice of skip tracing is about tracking down those who move around and do not provide forwarding information.

Public Records Searches

Collection agencies, private investigators, etc. begin the process by focusing on publicly accessible records. These include things like real estate transactions, tax transactions, etc. Though it may seem strange, there are plenty of people who do not know just how accessible such public records are. They might skip town and purchase property in another state, not realizing their transactions are a part of the public record.

Other public records that are fairly easily accessed are:

  • Arrest Records – As a general rule, arrest records are public records. There may be instances where a particular state limits how such records can be accessed.

  • Court Records – Court proceedings are public proceedings unless a judge has a compelling reason to keep things private. Court proceedings do not always yield good results, but they often do.

When public record searches yield very little for an investigator to work with, it’s on to other sources of information. These include social media. The modern culture’s obsession with social media offers a treasure trove of helpful information.

Nonpublic Records

There are some individuals who go to great lengths to shield their activity because they know how easily accessed public records are. Still, hiding forever is not as easy as it might seem. There are plenty of other non-public records investigators can look through. These include:

  • Criminal Background Checks – Investigators can run the same types of criminal background checks employers run. They often contain helpful information.

  • Loan Applications – Debtors applying for new forms of credit leave electronic paper trails in their wake. Investigators can look at loan applications, credit card applications, and so forth.

  • Driver Information – If a debtor has a driver’s license and/or a registered vehicle, records can be looked up in state databases. Note that this type of information can only be accessed with state permission. Private investigators, debt collectors, etc. generally have that permission via their licenses.

There are plenty of other non-public records not listed here. They include things like utility bills, job applications, and even travel records. Here’s the thing to remember: skip tracing utilizes a variety both public and non-public databases. If information about an individual is out there, a skilled investigator will find it.

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