This probably won’t come as a surprise to most, but creditors are not generally the first people that debtors think to notify when they relocate.
Whether intentional or not, many debtors forget to inform their creditors when they change locations. This can result in missed payments when mail isn’t forwarded correctly. If the debtor also changes their phone number, they might suddenly become impossible to get ahold of, leaving you stuck attempting to collect past due accounts.
Situations where a debtor suddenly vanishes provide commercial debt collection agencies an opportunity to shine. Many agencies have extensive experience tracking down missing or relocated debtors through a process called skip tracing.
Skip tracing involves examining public records in an attempt to locate a specific person or company. While many creditors could attempt this process on their own, the experience and connections of a debt collection agency in the loan recovery process could prove extremely valuable in this type of situation.
Here are some of the processes that skip tracing might include:
Basic Internet Searches
This has obviously become more and more routine over the past few years. It has also become increasingly more effective. Just running a simple Google search for the individual or company you are looking for might alert you to their new location.
While many debtors will move with the specific intention of avoiding their creditors, some people just simply forget to inform you of their new location. Sometimes, a simple Internet search can fix this situation and normal payments can be immediately resumed.
Another place that creditors can utilize to search for information about debtors is state and federal business databases. These databases will provide information about businesses that are registered, but they are also usually last on the list to be notified of any changes. This isn’t a likely place to find a solution, but it is good to cover all of the bases.
Pulling a credit report on your debtor will give you a picture of any recent activity. If the debtor has taken on any additional debt, you will be able to deduce when and where they were when that happened. You might also be able to discover where they are currently doing their banking. This can be very helpful if you are tracking a debtor across multiple states, but perhaps less helpful if your debtor just moved across the county.
Just like the name indicates, an asset search will provide you with a snapshot of a debtor’s current assets. This could potentially include any residences where the debtor could be living. If the debtor simply moved into a former rental property that you didn’t know about, this could be an easy way to figure that out.
As you can see, skip tracing will require you to know how to obtain a wide variety of background information about your debtor. This will require a number of different contacts, which is why it is usually better to hand the process off to a reputable debt collection agency. Utilizing the resources of a collection agency with extensive skip tracing experience will go a long way towards lightening your load.
It is also important to keep in mind that skip tracing is just gathering information. Once the information is gathered, the next step is to reestablish contact with the debtor. Once again, a debt collection agency might be a better alternative than doing this yourself. If your relationship with the debtor has been difficult, a collection agency might be able to conduct more professional interactions with the debtor.