Us Skip tracing is the process of locating people who have disappeared without paying their debts, avoiding legal obligations, or generally trying to hide. Skip tracers use a variety of methods to track down missing persons, including extensive database searches, interviews with relatives and acquaintances, and sophisticated location techniques.

In this article, we will cover the definition of skip tracing, how the process works, who utilizes skip tracing services, and why there is a need for this activity in society and business. We’ll also provide an overview of the typical skip tracing process for finding those who have outstanding debts or legal issues.

What is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is searching for and locating individuals who cannot be readily found through normal channels. The term “skip” refers to someone who has skipped town and disappeared without fulfilling certain obligations.

Skip tracing is primarily used in two main contexts:

  • Debt collection – When a debtor behind on loans, credit cards, medical bills etc. disappears without paying. Debt collectors hire skip tracing firms to track them down.
  • Legal notifications – When a defendant avoids being served a summons or subpoena. Lawyers employ skip tracers to locate the defendant to proceed with the legal case.

Other reasons skip tracing may be used is to locate witnesses, deadbeat parents not paying child support, and even birth parents in adoption searches.

How Does the Skip Tracing Process Work?

Skip tracers utilize advanced databases, online investigative tools, extensive networking, and boots-on-the-ground surveillance techniques to pinpoint the precise current location of missing persons. Here is an overview of how the skip tracing process typically works:

  • Initial Information Gathering The skip tracer first gathers all possible background information on the missing person from the client, including full legal name, previous addresses, date of birth, Social Security Number, employment details, known contacts, phone numbers, etc.
  • Database Search The tracer searches various proprietary databases and public records to uncover any new information about the subject as well as their activities. Sources include credit reports, utility records, voter registration data, vehicle/driver registrations, criminal records, and more.
  • interviews The investigator reaches out to and directly interviews the missing person’s relatives, friends, coworkers, employers and other connections, gathering new data bits which may reveal the subject’s coordinates.
  • On-the-Ground Canvassing With an approximate location in mind, the skip tracer may travel to known hangouts, old neighborhoods, workplaces, etc. looking for the missing person and questioning locals across their network face-to-face.
  • Surveillance Once a promising lead pops up, the skip tracer will conduct active monitoring and surveillance, Night and day, to definitively pinpoint their target’s exact location.
  • Service of Process Finally, the tracer formally serves the legal summons, subpoena or completes the predetermined process goal.

Who Uses Skip Tracing Services?

The top users of professional skip tracing services include:

  • Debt Collection Agencies – To track down consumers and recover unpaid loans, credit card balances, medical debts, etc. This comprises the bulk of skip tracing assignments.
  • Law Firms – To notify defendants of lawsuits and other legal action through court summonses when defendants avoid initial attempts.
  • Government Agencies – To fulfill civic duties like jury duty notifications, census surveys, and tax collections.
  • Insurance Companies – To contact insured parties involved in claims or investigate possible fraud.
  • Bounty Hunters – Legally pursuing fugitives such as criminal bail jumpers.

Without the unique expertise of diligent skip tracers, these obligations would too often go unfulfilled.

Why is Skip Tracing Necessary?

Skip tracing fulfills an important role in civil society. By locating missing debtors and responsible parties, skip tracers facilitate:

  • Accountability & Fairness – People must answer for contractual debts, child support duties, lawsuit judgments etc. Skip tracing stops evasion.
  • Legal Resolution – Court cases stall without all parties being properly served notices to appear. Skip tracing enables proceedings.
  • Financial Recovery – Creditors recoup some losses through skip tracing, keeping consumer prices/interest rates lower for all.
  • Public Access – Skip tracing aids accessible legal systems and affordable credit critical for societal functioning.

Without skip tracing’s unique capability to uncover hidden individuals through sophisticated search methods, regular commerce, family obligations and judicial proceedings would be routinely undermined through deliberate avoidance and hiding.


In essence, skip tracing provides an invaluable service by leveraging investigatory databases and resourceful tracking strategies to discover missing persons critical for cases to progress. Skip tracing promotes fair and equitable financial and legal accountability.

FAQs About Skip Tracing

  • What types of records do skip tracers utilize in their searches? 

Skip tracers access credit reports, voter registration profiles, utility applications, vehicle registration data, criminal histories, court filings, property deeds, business licenses, marriage/divorce details, phone directories and other public indexes that provide clues regarding a person’s past and present locations.

  • What laws apply to skip tracing?

 All legitimate skip tracers strictly observe fair credit reporting laws, financial privacy rules, lawful debt collection practices and defendant rights. Ethical skip tracers have thorough processes to confirm the positive identity of subjects before legally proceeding with next steps.

  • How much does hiring a skip tracing firm cost? 

Professional skip tracing firms typically charge an initial search fee in the $50+ range. If the initial search fails to discover the subject, there is usually no additional fee. When successful in locating the missing person, costs depend on the required process service and number of surveillance hours, but often fall in the $100-$500 range on average.



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