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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”.

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