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Skip tracing

How do you find someone who doesn’t want to be found? Once you have separated the credit challenged from the credit criminal how do you find the credit criminals? It is easy: Follow their tracks.

Following and finding credit criminals is a lot like a woodsman tracking an animal by following its scat and broken twigs. Credit criminals leave behind their messes and broken agreements just like scat and broken twigs. The simple fact is that most people don’t disappear, and most people use or need credit to live. People also have to live somewhere, use water, gas, electricity, and telephones. Most people (outside of Manhattan) also have automobiles. With these basic needs, and the required fulfillment of these, needs a person can usually be tracked.

Utilities

Absent a direct line to a utility pole, most credit criminals have stiffed one or more utility companies. Check the public records in small claims court for past utility bills that have been left unpaid. Many of the utility suits will contain full information about the person and their previous whereabouts.

Mail

Send a letter addressed to the credit criminal at all of the known addresses and place in the upper left hand corner of the envelope a legend reading Please do not forward. Address correction requested. Please return to sender. Return postage guaranteed. The forwarding addresses received may lead to another bad address, or you may find a new address. If you are a process server, a private investigator, or an attorney you can use the Request for Change of Address or Boxholder Information Needed for Service of Legal Process form from the Post Office. The rules governing this form are printed on page 21607,2-19-87 of the Postal Bulletin.

Vehicles

While we may have a driver’s license for from 5 to (in some states) 30 years our vehicles must be continually registered. Look for driver’s license information and vehicle ownership information. (This, in many states will require a PI or a law enforcement officer to access the records). On the driver’s license look for recent tickets, and the license plate of the vehicle in which the ticket was received. The credit criminal will either own the vehicle, or the person who owns the vehicle will know where the credit criminal is located. Most of the driving (80%) we do is within 3 miles of one’s home, so a good guess can be made as to where the credit criminal will be living.

Credit Reports

If you have access to credit reports, use it. You need an established credit relationship, request for relationship, or a judgment to access a credit files (General rules, but various from state to state. Check out your state’s rules). Look for recent or current accounts, and call the “Skip Trace Department”. They may try to put you off and say “Privacy Laws forbid us sharing that information.” That is incorrect. They can share locate information with you if they so chose: They merely can’t share credit information. And you don’t care about their credit: You just want to find them.

Note that skip tracing is as much a art as it is a science. You need to use all of your life skills to gather information and locate the credit criminal, their job, and their bank accounts for your clients — and before anyone else does.

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