Disappeared Without a Trace: How Skip Tracing Finds Individuals

Criminal in hiding
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Tracking people who don’t want to be found is always tricky. But just because you can’t find them, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be found. Many people are not aware that they should inform institutions or agencies that they’ve transferred homes or furnish a forwarding address for record purposes.

If you want to know the whereabouts of people who “disappear” without a trace, you need to look hard enough—or hire a skip tracer. That is where skip tracing will be useful.

An Overview of Skip Tracing

Skip tracing is simply the process of getting the location of a person based on the information you have about them. Yes, it’s like looking for a missing person or hunting for an individual who escaped parole. Skip tracing is used by bail bond agents, bounty hunters, private investigators, and law enforcement officers. But it’s not limited to finding a criminal, suspect or defendant.

Skip tracing is also used for the following reasons:

  • To learn the whereabouts of someone who owes you
  • To find a missing child
  • To trace schoolmates for a university alumni event
  • To serve process
  • To trace a genealogy
  • To find a high school friend you haven’t seen in a long time
  • For tenant verification
  • For employment background checks
  • To look for a former neighbor
  • To find the witnesses of a crime
  • To locate real estate investors or owners
  • For marketing or census purposes

An important thing to know is that skip tracing is legal in the United States as long as you look into records or search for information legally. You or your skip tracer must be honest and forthright with your intentions. Lawyers also suggest that you check state and federal laws that apply to skip tracing to be sure about what you can and cannot do in specific areas.

Sources of Information

In essence, skip tracing means researching for the sole purpose of finding a person. It always begins with the information you have at hand. There is a mine of information from legitimate sites and databases for public consumption. Examples of these are public records, general tax information, phone number listings, courthouse records, credit card applications, air travel records, loan applications, vehicle registration departments, store loyalty membership records, and real estate listings.

Apart from the personal information that you get from records and online channels, you may look into the records of people associated with them, such as spouses, partners, children, or parents. A change in the spouse’s address, for instance, may suggest that the person you’re looking for is likely living in the same place. You may talk to former landlords, owners of their favorite grocery stores, car maintenance shops, etc.

These days, it’s even easier to learn the movement of people because of their presence online. Social networks are a rich source of information. Innocent posts and tweets of destinations and activities can give you a clue on where your target individual is currently staying. Location information on their phones tells you exactly where they are.

Skip Tracing in the Digital Era

Criminal under investigation

Thankfully, online sites and digital technology have increased in past years, which made the life of skip tracers more convenient. Instead of them having to go to each place to gather information or interview people associated with the person they’re looking for, they can do part of the process in the comforts of their home.

They can look into online sites of public records and contact people by phone, email, social media, and private messaging apps. That was useful during the lockdown—and for the entire pandemic—as travel restrictions are still up in many places.

Skip tracing is an efficient means to find people who escaped parole, jumped bail, are hiding from their creditors, or circumventing child support payments. But it’s much more than that. The next time you organize a school reunion and can’t reach the people you want to attend, try a skip tracing service.

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