What Is Skip Tracing and How Does It Work?

In a world where people can easily relocate, change their identities, or evade contact, skip tracing has emerged as an essential tool for locating individuals who are intentionally hiding or have gone missing.

In this article, we will delve into the world of skip tracing, exploring its purpose, methods, and the tools utilized by professionals in their pursuit of finding those who are difficult to locate.

 mysterious man

What Is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is a specialized technique used by investigators, debt collectors, and legal professionals to locate individuals and gather information about their whereabouts. It involves a combination of investigative skills, technology, and access to various databases to track down individuals who have “skipped” or intentionally avoided detection.

Skip Tracer Vs Bounty Hunter: What Is The Difference?

While both skip tracers and bounty hunters are involved in tracking down individuals, there are significant differences in their roles and objectives. Understanding these distinctions is crucial in comprehending their respective responsibilities and the legal frameworks within which they operate.

Skip tracers specialize in locating individuals who have intentionally disappeared, employing investigative techniques to gather information for debt collection, legal proceedings, or personal matters. They lack the authority to apprehend individuals forcefully.

On the other hand, bounty hunters, or bail enforcement agents, have the legal authority to apprehend individuals who have violated the terms of their release, typically working on behalf of bail bondsmen or the court system. They can locate, apprehend, and return fugitives to face their charges.

How Much Does Skip Tracing Cost?

The cost of skip tracing services can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the resources required, and the expertise of the skip tracer or investigative agency.

Typically, skip tracing services are billed based on an hourly rate or a flat fee structure. Hourly rates can range from $50 to $200 per hour, while flat fees can vary from $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on the scope of the investigation. Additional expenses, such as access to specialized databases, travel costs, and court fees, may also be incurred and should be considered.

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is a legal practice when conducted within the boundaries of the law. The legality of skip tracing is determined by the methods and techniques used during the investigation. Professional skip tracers operate under the jurisdiction-specific laws and regulations governing private investigation, data protection, and privacy rights.

They utilize publicly available information, databases, online resources, and social engineering techniques to gather information about an individual’s whereabouts. It is essential for skip tracers to respect privacy rights, adhere to ethical guidelines, and obtain information through lawful means.

What is the Skip Tracing Process?

The skip tracing process involves a series of systematic steps aimed at locating individuals who have intentionally disappeared, evaded contact, or are otherwise difficult to find. The general process typically involves the following key steps:

  1. Gathering available information

The skip tracer starts by collecting any relevant information about the individual being traced. This may include their full name, last known address, phone numbers, email addresses, social media profiles, known associates, employment history, and any other details that can aid in the search.

  1. Analyzing and verifying data

The gathered information is then carefully analyzed and cross-referenced to ensure its accuracy. The skip tracer may use various tools, databases, and investigative techniques to validate and verify the provided data.

  1. Conducting online research

Skip tracers extensively utilize online resources to dig deeper into the subject’s digital footprint. They explore social media platforms, online directories, public records databases, and other websites to uncover additional information, such as recent activities, connections, or any digital traces left behind.

  1. Utilizing proprietary databases and tools

Skip tracers often have access to specialized databases and tools that can provide valuable insights. These resources may include databases with public records, address history, utility bills, credit reports, driver’s license records, and more. Such databases help in narrowing down the search and obtaining updated information about the individual.

  1. Contacting known associates and references

Skip tracers may reach out to known associates, family members, friends, or references provided by the subject to gather additional information. These individuals may have insights into the subject’s current whereabouts or any recent changes in their circumstances.

  1. Engaging in social engineering techniques

In some cases, skip tracers employ social engineering techniques to gather information indirectly. This may involve contacting individuals who might have interacted with the subject or utilizing pretexting to obtain information from third parties without revealing the true purpose of the inquiry.

  1. Documenting findings and updating information

Throughout the process, skip tracers document their findings, record any leads or potential locations, and update the information as they progress. This ensures a comprehensive and organized approach to the search.

  1. Reporting and providing recommendations

Once the skip tracer successfully locates the individual or exhausts all available leads, they compile a report summarizing their findings and present it to the client or relevant party. They may also provide recommendations or next steps based on the information gathered during the skip tracing process.

When Should You Hire a Skip Tracer?

Hiring a skip tracer can be beneficial in various situations where locating an individual is necessary or crucial. Here are some scenarios when it may be appropriate to consider engaging the services of a skip tracer:

  1. Locating debtors

If you are a creditor or debt collector trying to recover outstanding debts, a skip tracer can help track down individuals who have intentionally avoided payment or gone off the grid. By locating debtors, you increase the chances of collecting what is owed to you.

  1. Missing persons cases

When searching for missing persons, whether it’s a lost family member, a runaway teenager, or an individual who has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, a skip tracer’s expertise in locating hard-to-find individuals can prove invaluable. They have the tools and resources to navigate through various channels and databases to uncover leads and potential whereabouts.

  1. Legal proceedings

In legal cases, such as serving legal documents or locating witnesses or defendants, skip tracers can assist in locating individuals who are needed for legal proceedings. They can help ensure that legal documents are properly delivered and that the required parties are present during court proceedings.

  1. Background checks and due diligence

Skip tracers can aid in conducting thorough background checks on individuals, whether it’s for employment purposes, vetting potential business partners, or investigating someone’s history before entering into personal or professional relationships. They can uncover crucial information that may be hidden or undisclosed, providing a comprehensive picture of an individual’s background.

  1. Personal matters

There may be personal situations where hiring a skip tracer becomes necessary, such as locating a long-lost relative, finding birth parents, or reconnecting with old friends. Skip tracers can help trace individuals who have intentionally distanced themselves or whose contact information has become outdated.If you need to hire a skip tracer in New York, we at Unified Judicial have you covered! We specialize in finding hard to find individuals.

How Long Does A Skip Trace Take?

The duration of a skip trace can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the availability and accuracy of information, and the resources utilized. Simple skip traces that involve locating individuals with readily available information may be resolved within a few hours or days.

However, more challenging cases that require extensive research, multiple leads, or involve individuals who have intentionally gone to great lengths to hide their whereabouts can take weeks or even months to complete.

Where Do Skip Tracing Companies Get Their Data?

Skip tracing companies gather data from a variety of sources to aid in their investigations. These sources typically include public records, online databases, social media platforms, and proprietary data aggregators.

Skip Tracing Always Comes In Handy

Skip tracing plays a vital role in locating individuals who have intentionally disappeared or are difficult to find. Through a systematic process of gathering information, utilizing various resources, and employing investigative techniques, skip tracers assist in a range of scenarios, including debt collection, missing persons cases, legal proceedings, and personal matters.

It is crucial to work with reputable and licensed professionals who uphold legal and ethical standards in their investigations. While skip tracing is a legal practice when conducted within the boundaries of the law, it is essential to respect privacy rights, adhere to jurisdiction-specific regulations, and use lawful means to obtain information.

About Unified Judicial

Unified Judicial Services is a professional Process Service Agency based in New York City and licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.

The company is led and managed by a long-serving member of the legal community with extensive experience in the field.

With our commitment to excellence and acute professionalism, we do our best to provide our clients with truly dependable, affordable, and timely service. Unified Judicial Services has provided consolidated insight to the legal community for many years. We are reinforced, authorized, and guaranteed!

Please contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.