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Effective Skip Tracing: Tools of the Trade

Feb 22, 2012 Randy Mosteller

Skip tracing may sound like a spy technique out of a James Bond movie, but it actually has several practical daily applications for business.  Anyone from lawyers to debt collectors, investigators to educational institutions may employ skip tracing to zero in on an individual's current whereabouts or track someone's activities.  Lawyers seek out the service to find witnesses or to communicate with heirs to an estate.  Third party debt collectors or an in-house collections department use the data to track down delinquent borrowers or customers.  And educational institutions rely on skip tracing to locate alumni.    While securing records forms a core part of the search for an individual, this activity is not the beginning and end of the skip tracing process.  The art of skip tracing entails using up-to-the-minute data from reliable sources. In order to be successful, it’s imperative to gather information from multiple data sources, cross-reference the information to ensure its veracity, analyze the data gleaned and distill the records into the most essential information.


The tools of the trade employed for effective skip tracing include:

  • Databases of addresses and phone numbers
  • Applications for credit cards, loans and jobs
  • Legal records
  • Criminal records
  • Tax information
  • Bills for utilities
  • Payroll information
  • Driver's license applications and renewals
  • Vehicle registrations
  • Traffic tickets

The art and science of skip tracing entails utilizing this data to create a nuanced profile of the individual being traced.  For this reason, you should access multiple records from verified resources and, when necessary, fact-check information by conducting in-person interviews or by contacting related parties in accordance to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Challenges arise when less reliable sources or conflicting information obfuscates the search.  Professionals understand that accuracy, sophisticated computer retrieval techniques and access to proprietary information delivers top results.  Tapping into this bank of information can be as simple as finding the right data supplier for accurate skip tracing and people search data.  When evaluating businesses that supply skip tracing and people search data look for a company that aggregates data from several informational streams, producing quality results in a short time frame. Conducting effective searches is challenging, but the process resolves compelling financial and investigative dilemmas.