Skip tracing is an American term and is the process a private detective applies in attempting to locate a person/people for various reasons. The subjects may be debtors, fugitives or possibly witnesses in criminal trials and are referred to as “skips” because they have left somewhere (skipped town) possibly in a hurry leaving few, if any, clues as to their new location.
Lawyers, police, debt collectors, process servers, repossession agents, journalists and private detectives and bounty hunters (bail bond enforcers) or anyone wanting to find the whereabouts or contact details of a subject may employ skip tracing strategies.
How is skip tracing done?
To perform a successful skip trace requires the collection of as much intelligence as possible which is then analysed, scaled down and verified. Quite often the current location of the subject is in the data but obscured by the sheer volume of information and misinformation. Throughout the intelligence gathering process a private detective will attempt to verify everything that is found before deciding on the next step, since false leads will waste valuable time especially if tracing services are offered on a no win /no fee basis. It may be necessary for the private detective to visit an address in order to confirm or eliminate it from the enquiry.
Skip tracing requires excellent research skills since more than one method of social engineering can be necessary such as calling on and speaking to former employers, neighbours and other contacts.
In the process of skip tracing private detectives access public records and their own databases to work out the possible whereabouts of the subject.
Cross referenced skip tracing intelligence can return details of other people the “skip” has lived with recently, in which case a new skip trace may be required on a third party who has resided in the same property, in order to locate the “skip”.