Skip Trace

BREAKING DOWN A SKIP TRACE SERVICE

By: Akanksha A. Panicker

Finding a person is a very difficult task, made only more difficult when they need to be served. When a plaintiff brings a lawsuit against a defendant, the law requires the defendant to be served a notice of the court action. This is done so that the defendant has enough time to prepare a defense, and is an important part of due process.

However, what happens when the person being served is extraordinarily hard to locate?

Skip tracing comes in. Skip tracing essentially boils down to locating a person’s whereabouts, the word itself coming from the idiomatic expression ‘to skip town’ [to depart in a haste] and to ‘trace’ the path that they might have taken.  Skip tracing tactics may be employed by a skip tracer, contact tracer, debt collector, process server, bail bondsman or bail agency enforcer [bounty hunters], repossession agent, private investigator, lawyer, police detective, journalist, or by any person attempting to locate a subject whose contact information is not immediately known. Similar techniques have also been used by investigators to locate witnesses in criminal trials.

 [1.0] WHAT IS SKIP TRACING?

Collecting information is the keystone to successfully locating an evasive individual. Data is amassed about the individuals, then analysed and verified in order to obtain new and correct points of contadct while also sifting out details specifically manufactured to muddle their location. Essentially, a skip tracer’s job is to identify real details about the individual to be located and collect the same.

The job is a lot more than research, though. Third-party individuals who can assist the process can be identified thus, which can usher the process along at a faster pace. This can be attributed to the fact that even when no specific information is returned, public and private databases exist that cross-reference skip tracing information with others the ‘skip’  may have lived with in the recent past. For instance, if previous records show a ‘skip’ lived in the same house as a third party, the third party may also be skip traced in an effort to locate the primary target.

Records that ‘skip-tracers’ use may include phone number databases, credit reports [including information provided on a loan application, credit card application, and in other debt collector databases], job application information, criminal background checks, utility bills [electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, Internet, and cable], social security, disability, and public tax information. While some of these records may be publicly available, some cannot be accessed without an appropriate search warrant, which is generally only available to law enforcement.

[2.0] SO, WHAT’S A PROCESS SERVER SUPPOSED TO DO

Skip tracing is needed to serve someone who just plain doesn’t want to be served. They’ll take steps to avoid this, changing addresses or jobs, or just dropping off the grid as much as they possibly can. Service is especially hard here if it’s for a person whose particulars one does not have. 

If this happens, a process server intervenes. They’re armed with access to higher-technology services, experience from performing the skip trace routine before and insider information. Even if their address seems like it’s an internet search away, process servers are faster and more efficient, often relying on colleagues to pool in resources and locate the individual. 

Additionally, a process server actually knows how to go about skip-tracing legally. It’s difficult to manoeuvre the mire of federal, local and state laws, especially with the issues of trespass and privacy, but process servers are trained to be able to work past the same.

 [3.0] LEGALITY OF SKIP TRACING

So, is skip tracing legal?

Essentially, yes. However, privacy laws will still be binding. For example, State Senator Chris Jacobs has introduced legislation to protect the privacy rights of New York residents as the state begins to engage in contact tracing efforts as a key part of its reopening strategy. According to state and national public health officials, contact tracing can help monitor infected individuals as reopening businesses and COVID-19 restrictions loosen. 

To prevent breach of privacy, Jacobs’ bill would require that any person traced must voluntarily opt-in to the tracing program, and it provides that they can withdraw at any time with the assurance that their personal data is encrypted. The legislation creates two new E felonies for unlawful dissemination of contact tracing information as well as unlawful use of a surveillance drone.  It also establishes a cause of action enabling people to sue entities responsible for any violation of their right to privacy as it relates to contact tracing.  Aggrieved individuals would be allowed to seek damages or declaratory or injunctive relief.

While the above example isn’t purely for skip tracing, it is a good example of what are illegal ways of obtaining information or accessing private documentation without consent. It must be understood that while service to an individual is exceedingly important, being upfront about one’s intentions while also specifically checking local laws and business regulations is what’s necessary to understand exactly what one is permitted to do. 

The situation of a skip tracer is also likened to those of debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that limits the behaviour and actions of third-party debt collectors who are attempting to collect debts on behalf of another person or entity. The law, as amended in 2010, leaves a few channels to contact debtors, and even specifies the regularity through which they may be contacted. If the FDCPA is violated, a suit may be brought within one year against the debt collection company as well as the individual debt collector for damages and attorney fees.

[4.0] SKIP TRACING AND BOUNTY HUNTING

Where does bounty hunting come in?

Since skip tracing is often associated with bail bonds and bounty hunting, as many bail bondsmen and bounty hunters use skip trace services to locate individuals. They are not synonymous, though, and skip tracers can never exist as bounty hunters. 

Skip tracing with regards to bounty hunting refers to a person who has skipped bail. It’s an intentional skip, because they do so to avoid jail rather than just an unintentional, well-meaning skip. This means that the process of locating the fugitive is significantly more difficult, as bounty hunters will also have to attempt an apprehension of the fugitive. 

Skip tracing is not unlike detective work, as it involves scouring databases, understanding where and how to search for information, and following up on leads. Skip tracing professionals conduct interviews, engage in surveillance activities, and assess information about their subject.

In the past, dumpster diving was a part of skip tracing. Skip tracers often used to conceal their true identities and motives in order to gain more information. This form of deception, known as ‘pretexting.’ is legal now in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. With the rise of the internet, a lot of skip tracing is conducted online with paid search sites and subscription to a number of paid databases. tracers will subscribe to a number of paid databases to help them gather and verify information.

With COVID-19 requiring every county in the United States to build a contact tracing plan, this industry is expected to hire tens of thousands of tracers in 2020.

For more information on skip trace service visit https://undisputedlegal.com/services/skip-trace-services/ or call (800)774-6922 representatives are available Monday-Friday 81m-8pm EST.

Sources

1.Senate Bill S8327, 2019-2020 Legislative Session,  Relates to protecting people’s privacy during contact tracing

2. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Pub. L. 95-109; 91 Stat. 874, codified as 15 U.S.C. § 1692

What Can You Do If An Employer Finds Something Negative in Your Background 

By: Undisputed Legal/Skip Trace Department

If your background report has some damaging information, be prepared to explain it — and the reason it shouldn’t affect your ability to do the job. Here is a description of your rights, depending on what type of negative information the employer finds: 

Criminal History or Other Public Records: 

If you don’t get hired or promoted because of information in your criminal history or other public records, the employer must tell you orally, in writing, or electronically: 

the name, address, and phone number of the company that supplied the criminal history or public records report;  that the company that provided the information didn’t make the decision to take the adverse action and can’t give you specific reasons for it; and that you have the right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information in the report and to an additional free account from the company that supplied it if you ask for it within 60 days of the employer’s decision not to hire or retain you. The company that provided the employer with negative information from a criminal history or other public records has certain obligations: it has to tell you that it provided the information. It has to take specific steps to make sure the notification is accurate. Some employers might say not to apply if you have a criminal record. That could be discrimination. If that happens to you, contact the EEOC at eeoc.gov or 1-800-669-4000. Find information on arrest and conviction records in employment decisions (eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/qa_arrest_ conviction. cfm) arrest and conviction records as an automatic bar to all employment (csgjusticecenter.org/ wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Reentry_Council_ Mythbuster_Employment.pdf)

For information on serving legal papers visit www.undisputedlegal.com or call (800) 774-6922; representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!

Rules For Using A Background Check For Employment

By: Undisputed Legal/Skip Trace Department

Some employers try to find out about your background by hiring someone to do a “background report” on you. Among the most common are criminal background reports and credit reports. But special rules apply when an employer gets a background report about you from a company in the business of compiling background information. 

1. Before getting the report, the employer must tell you that they might use the information to make a decision related to your employment and must ask for your written permission. You don’t have to give your permission, but if you’re applying for a job and you don’t give your permission, the employer may reject your application. If an employer gets a background report on you without your permission, contact the FTC at ftc.gov or at 1-877-FTC-HELP. 

2. If the employer thinks they might not hire, keep, or promote you because of something in the report, they must give you a copy of the report and a “Summary of Rights” that tells you how to contact the company that provided the report. That’s because background reports sometimes have mistakes. If you see a mistake in your background report, ask the background reporting company to fix it, and to send a copy of the corrected report to the employer. Tell the employer about the mistake, too. 

For information on background checks visit www.undisputedlegal.com or call (800) 774-6922 representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful please consider giving a donation.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and visit us again!

Background Checks – What You Need To Know

By: Undisputed Legal/Skip Trace Department

An employer may ask you for all sorts of information about your background, especially during the hiring process. For example, some employers may ask about your employment history, education, criminal record, financial history, medical history, or use of online social media.

It’s legal for employers to ask questions about your background or to require a background check — with certain exceptions. They’re not permitted to ask your for medical information until they offer you a job, and they’re not allowed to ask for your genetic information, including your family medical history, except in limited circumstances.

When an employer asks about your background, they must treat you the same as anyone else, regardless of your race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age if you’re 40 or older. An employer isn’t allowed to ask for extra background information because you are of a certain race or ethnicity.

If an employer treats you differently because of your race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or older age, or asks you inappropriate questions about your medical status, medical history, or family medical history, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at eeoc.gov or 1-800-669-4000.

For information on background checks, visit www.undisputedlegal.com or call (800) 774-6922; representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!

Find People, Person Search, Background Check, We Do it All!

By: Undisputed Legal/Skip Trace Department

Skip trace is the process of locating a person’s whereabouts for any number of purposes. A skip tracer is someone who performs this task. The term “skip” refers to the person being searched for, and is derived from the idiomatic expression “to skip town”, meaning to depart (perhaps in a rush), leaving minimal clues behind to “trace” the “skip” to a new location

Skip tracing is done by collecting as much information as possible about the subject. The information is then analyzed, reduced, and verified. Obtaining new and correct points of contact is key. Sometimes the subject’s current whereabouts are in the data but are obfuscated by the sheer amount of information or disinformation. More often the data will be used to identify third parties that might be able to assist the process. This is where the job becomes more than mere research.

Records that “skip-tracers” use may include phone number databases, credit reports (including information provided on a loan application, credit card application, and in other debt collector databases), job application information, criminal background checks, utility bills (electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, Internet, and cable), social security, disability, and public tax information. While some of these records may be publicly available, some cannot be accessed without an appropriate search warrant, which is generally only available to law enforcement.

Even when no specific information is returned, public databases exist that cross-reference skip tracing information with others the “skip” may have lived within the recent past. For instance, if previous records show a “skip” lived in the same house as a third party, the third-party may also be “skip traced” in an effort to locate the “skip”.

For information on skip trace, background checks, people search, and more visit www.undisputedlegal.com or call (800) 774-6922 representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful please consider giving a donation.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and visit us again!

How To Locate a Person with our Skip Trace Service

Whether it’s for civil or criminal actions, our professionals can help you track down anyone quickly and reliably. Our skip trace service employs real investigators, including former law enforcement agents, which trace your desired person or persons with a 90% success rate. Using high-tech programs we’ve purchased and a direct connection with the New York State Division of Motor Vehicles, we can find anyone, anywhere.

A basic skip trace provides a person’s name and aliases as well as current and previous addresses. A national comprehensive report provides extensive background, including summary report, phones plus, bankruptcy, fictitious business name, people at work, criminal records, associates, relatives, neighbors, and much, much more.

For a comprehensive business report, you can learn the name, address, and phone variations of a business, as well as their parent company, ID numbers, and industry information.  Pre-litigation reports are also available that provide address summary, property deeds and assessments, vehicle registrations, and more.

For information on locating someone contact a skip trace service call (800) 774-6922. Representatives are available Monday-Friday 8 am – 8 pm EST.  If you found this article helpful, please consider donating.  Thank you for following our blog, A space dedicated to bringing you news on breaking legal developments, interesting articles for law professionals, and educational material for all. We hope that you enjoy your time on our blog and revisit us!  We also invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers.