Skip tracing is a method that companies or individuals can use to locate a person. Generally it’s used by companies to locate missing persons, collect on outstanding debts, or to repossess something. An individual or a PI may skip trace to help find old friends or loved ones, locate long lost relatives, or any number of other uses that can be associated with finding people. For the professionals, it’s developed into somewhat of an art form and is often referred to as “the art of finding people”. Each professional has, over time, tweaked and developed their own methods for finding people but for the most part the core methods used remain intact.
Ideally it’s best to gather as much information about the person you’re looking for before you get started. The more information you have before starting the better. Here’s a list of the things that will be most helpful in skip tracing:
- Subjects full and complete name and any alias names
- Spouse’s name and maiden name
- Last known address and the date it was valid
- Any previous addresses and dates valid
- Last know telephone numbers with dates valid
- Social Security number
- Date of birth and age
- Spouse’s Date of birth
- Last known Employment of subject and spouse
- ID or Drivers license numbers
Granted most people won’t have all of the items in the list above and that’s to be expected but the more you have the better.
The main tool in a professionals skip tracing arsenal is the “social security trace”. It’s the holy grail of tools when it comes to finding people. You see, when most people go missing by choice they don’t drop completely “off the grid”. They may use a different name or try to hide but most people continue to use their credit cards, social security number, or other easily traceable documents. A social security trace will grab any and all traces of a person if they’re using their old information.
There are a couple of gotcha’s though. Skip tracing using a social security trace has had few restrictions placed on it within the past few years. In order to get one you must have a “permissible purpose”. Permissible purposes include business or investment transactions, insurance, employment, or litigation. Also, in order to perform this type of search you’ll need an account with one of the major credit bureaus and they only open accounts for certain types of businesses such as information professionals.
For individuals, you’re going to be a bit more limited. You’ll need to pay for a social security trace or use skip trace software to help you with your search. Skip tracing can be one of the fastest ways to find people when used properly.