What is Skip Tracing?
Police, detectives and bounty hunters have done this for years.
Skiptracing (also skip tracing) is the process of locating a person's whereabouts for any number of purposes. A "Skiptracer" is someone who performs this task, which may even be the person's primary occupation.
The term comes from the word "skip" being used to describe the person being searched for, and comes from the idiomatic expression "to skip town," leaving minimal clues behind for someone to "trace" the "skip" to a new location.
Skip tracing tactics may be employed by debt collectors, bail bond enforcers (bounty hunting), private investigators, attorneys, police detectives, journalists or as a part of any investigation that entails locating a subject whose contact information is not immediately known.
How it's done
Skiptracing is done by collecting as much information as possible about the subject. Sometimes the subject's current whereabouts are in the data, but is hidden by the sheer amount of information or disinformation. Just try looking up a "John Smith" in a search engine or telephone directory. More often the data will be used to identify third parties that might be able to assist the process - friends, ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, family members. This is where the job becomes more than mere research since one must often employ methods of social engineering to finesse information without compromising the situation. A common tactic involves calling or visiting former neighbors, employers or other known contacts to ask about the subject, sometimes under false or misleading pretenses. In many (most!) jurisdictions this deception, known as pretexting, is legal.
Records that "skiptracers" use include telephone number databases, credit reports (including information provided on a loan application, credit card applications, 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.
These methods do not break any laws because the information is freely available due to the nature of the business, whether it be debt collectors, bounty hunters, or other "skiptracers". Even when no specific information is returned, public databases exist that cross-reference skiptracing information with others the "skip" may have lived with 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 "skiptraced" in an effort to locate the "skip".
The Dark Side of Skip Tracing...
Controversy is sometimes raised in connection with the industry, due to persons selling pirated information under false pretenses. One example of this type of scenario would be an unlicensed "company" selling cell phone calling records and/or text message history files to anyone with money. This is obtained by the abuse of social engineering/pretexting methods which are normally used by enforcement agencies for the common good when information can not be acquired by more direct means. Cell phone data should be legally acquired by the use of a subpoena.
Who is that person?
They seem really nice...
Most of the people you meet are indeed very nice, and honest, hardworking folks. However, it pays to be wise when you meet someone new. After all, 1 in 33 people are psychopaths - nowadays more politely referred to as suffering from some degree of Anti-Social Personality Disorder.
Most psychopaths don't actually murder people, but they are not pleasant companions to invest your time in.
Don't believe that statistic? Neither did we, so we consulted the world's leading expert on psychopaths, or Anti-Social Personality disorder, the late Dr. Hervey Cleckley, author of "The Mask of Sanity".
He wrote the best book on the subject and you can download it free here.
You can also do a background check on someone and save yourself the worry. An ounce of prevention...