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Dealing with Skip Tracers and Debt Collection

One of the biggest problems that debt collectors face is locating their debtors. When a debtor moves to another house in another state, the collection agency often has no clue how to locate him. So, how do collection agencies track runaway debtors? The solution is easy – they hire skip tracers.

Skip tracers are people whose sole mission is to locate debtors who moved without giving their new contact details to the collection agencies. Sometimes, skip tracers are employed to help legal collectors find the addresses of assets that are to be repossessed.

You may wonder how skip tracers locate people. The process is actually rather straightforward. The easiest way is to use the debtors’ social security numbers. They run the social security numbers through various credit bureaus. What they get are header files from the debtors’ credit files or credit reports. A header file only has basic information like the name, address and in some cases, the place of employment. As little as this information may be, it’s all that the skip tracers need to help debt collectors find their debtors.

If the skip tracer cannot find the debtor through the social security number, he can do a national identifier search. Simply put, this is an old school system that uses the debtor’s last known residence as well as his name to find his new location.

The skip tracer may look through these sources:

Phone book
Online directories and search engines – The debtor may have accounts in various websites, like myspace, livejournal or facebook. If not, there may be people on the internet who may have written entries about him or posted his pictures.

The Department of Motor Vehicles
If the debtor drives or has a license, it is likely that the DMV has recent information about his whereabouts.

If you know the debtor’s last place of employment, the skip tracer can approach his boss and inquire about his current employment status. Even if the debtor has moved to a different job, the employer may still have information that can help the skip tracer locate him.

Associations and other groups
If the debtor has a specialized occupation, like Engineering or Medicine, he must have membership in certain organizations. The skip tracer will try to search through these groups to find the debtor.

Former contacts
The skip tracer may visit old neighbors, friends and relatives to get some information about the debtor’s current location.

When trying to get information about a certain debtor, a skip tracer faces a lot of potential legal troubles. In order to prevent these, the skip tracer should not falsely represent himself as a member of law enforcement or a detective. Also, the skip tracer may experience legal troubles if he tries to get the cell phone numbers of the debtors.