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Skip Trace Process

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A skip trace is a service that is used to gather information for debt collection, repossession, legal matters, locating heirs, locating witnesses and locating a fugitive (bail skipper), among many other things. A skip tracer does not need any special schooling, but must be able to work in a logical manner, as a skip trace requires a lot of research. A skip tracer uses clues from many venues to try to locate a person.

To begin a skip trace, the researcher determines if the person he is looking for has skipped intentionally or unintentionally. An unintentional skip is usually not the fault of the person in question – it is simply a matter of a data entry person entering the wrong information on that person’s record, i.e. the data entry person may have transposed two numbers when entering a phone number or address. An unintentional skip is rather easy to track down.

An intentional skip – a person who flees to avoid something – bill collections, legal problems, etc. will purposely avoid leaving a paper trail. He will not use credit cards, will try to find work under the table, and may even use a fake name. Many times, the only way to catch an intentional skip is when that person slips up and leaves an unintentional paper trail.

A skip trace starts with any known information such as the defendant’s common name and any aliases, maiden name, last known address, previous addresses, last known and previous phone numbers, social security number and date of birth. An ID number or driver’s license number is also helpful. It is always easier to find a person when an identifying piece of information is provided, especially a social security number.

If a social security number has been provided, the number need to be verified. There are many websites available with social security validation tools. If the number is valid, the social security death index can be used to determine if the individual is still alive. This could save hours of time in a skip trace.

The more identifiers a skip tracer has, the easier it is to complete a skip trace. Using someone’s name alone will probably not be enough. Just adding a correct birth date can narrow down the number of people the skip tracer will need to check.

A successful skip trace will include even the simple things, such as caller ID – if a skip tracer calls someone and leaves a message, he will look at the number that person called back from. If it is a different number, that gives the skip tracer another bit of data than can help track the person down.

Skip trace tools also include researching business directories, licensing agencies, mega databases, motor vehicle records and all other public records to try to find the trail leading to the defendant.

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