Skip tracing might be one of the most intimidating aspects of debt collection. The thought of locating a person who may or may not want to be found can be overwhelming, especially if debt collection is not your full time business.
When faced with the prospects of a disappearing debtor, many creditors simply throw in the towel and give up hope of ever collecting. However, if those creditors were to utilize some basic skip tracing techniques, there is a good chance that they might be able to locate the vanished debtor without even leaving the office.
Deeper Internet Searches
The first step in searching the Internet for clues regarding a debtor’s whereabouts is to simply search for their name in Google, or any other basic search engine. While this probably won’t produce any worthwhile results, it takes almost no time at all to run a few searches.
Another obvious place to search is Facebook. While your debtors might dodge your phone calls and hide from you in public, there is a good chance that they aren’t so careful with their Facebook profiles. Many disappearing debtors have been located by simply searching for their Facebook accounts, so you will definitely want to start there. You might even find them talking about dealing with debt collection for medical bills!
After searching Facebook, it is a good idea to search a number of other social media sites as well. Your debtor might be smart enough to adjust their privacy settings on Facebook, but at the same time they might be live tweeting from a concert, posting pictures of their lunch on Instagram, or checking in somewhere on Foursquare. All of these social media sites could possibly provide information as to your debtor’s whereabouts.
While just searching these social media sites as a user might give you all the information you need, sites like skipease.com are designed to cater those searches to skip tracing. This site combines all of the best people searching tools from around the Internet into one location.
Advanced skip tracers will also use paid sites that allow them to perform full background checks on debtors that might include speeding tickets, arrests, and other public information. In addition to skip tracing, these sites can also provide helpful background information when a debtor sends you a debt collection negotiation letter.
Smarter Informant Calls
Even if you don’t locate the person you are looking for from your Internet searches, you are likely to find contact information for family members and known acquaintances. This can be a valuable lead, but you must be very careful in how you go about following it.
When making phone calls to potential informants, you are not allowed to indicate or suggest that you are looking for the person in regard to an outstanding debt. For this reason, the best thing to say is that you are looking to update contact information. You should ask where the person currently resides, what a good number to reach them would be, and where they might be employed.
Regulations also state that you are not permitted to contact an informant more than once. The only possible exception is if you have reason to believe that the informant mistakenly provided you with incorrect information. For this reason, it might be a good idea to delete an informant’s phone number from your records after you speak with them.
While skip tracing might seem intimidating at first, following these basic steps is a relatively simple process that might produce huge rewards. If you don’t have the time to handle the skip tracing yourself, it could also be a good idea to hire a qualified debt collection agency to track down your debtor on your behalf.