Skip tracing (or “skiptracing”) is the imprecise and frequently inartful process of locating a person’s whereabouts by whatever means available to the skip tracer. Skip tracing tactics are most often employed by debt collectors, although the methods are also used by law enforcement, private investigators, bounty hunters, and journalists. Skiptracing is also sometimes referred to as fugitive debtor recovery.
The “skip” in skip tracing has two meanings. First, skip tracing is often employed to locate those persons who have “skipped town,” or moved to a new residence in a way that has escaped the attention of parties interested in that person’s location. Second, the “skip” in skip tracing refers to the “skipping” between often scarce or minimal pieces of information and persons available to the skip tracer.
Skip tracers typically have access to huge commercial databases, credit reports, criminal checks, and public tax records. In addition, skip tracers will ultimately resort to power of subpoena to access otherwise unavailable information, such as utility records, government job application information, utility bills, and social security and disability records. How aggressively a skiptracer will pursue a debtor typically depends on the amount of the debt owed.
To locate a subject, skip tracers will call and/or correspond with current and former employers, family members, landlords, neighbors, and personal and professional associates of all kinds. Skip tracers often conceal their true identities and motives in order to gain more information. This form of deception, known as “pretexting,” is legal in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Skiptracing is the last hope for a debt collector to collect on their debt, and it is used as last resort once all other debt collection methods have failed.
If you are being harassed by your creditors and their agents, or you suspect that you are being targeted by a skip tracing company, then I may be able to help you. As a bankruptcy lawyer in D.C., I can help you by putting an immediate stop to all collection efforts, including the shady practices of skip tracers.