Skip tracing is a term that has been around for over 20 years. The term skip trace or skip tracing originated from the bail bond industry referring to people who “skipped” bail and is popular with investigators. The term “skip” refers to the person being located and tracing means the act of locating the person who skipped. Today, skiptracing is performed by gathering information about the individual usually through online people search directories including ThatsThem, Spokeo, Whitepages, BeenVerified, Social Catfish and other online resources. The information being gathered includes phone numbers, family members, email addresses (both recent and historical), current and historical addresses.
Outside of people search sites, additional information is often used for skiptracing. This is typically more sensitive and often requires a credentialing process where the companies providing you the data will ensure that you have the proper security systems in place to protect the private contact or financial information they provide. This data is often provided by companies like Experian, Equifax and Transunion. These companies which are primarily credit bureaus provide more sensitive financial information which could include information about a person (skips) current or past financial or credit history. Examples include:
- Credit reports
- Credit scores
- Credit card applications
- Job applications
- Criminal background checks
- Loan applications
- Utility bills
- Tax information
- Department store loyalty cards
- Air travel records
- Social security number
- Drivers license
- Vehicle registration data
This information is used by debt collectors or bail bondsmen to better understand the financial circumstances of the skip and ultimately determine if it is a skip worth pursuing.
Recently the term “skip trace” or “skip tracing” has become synonymous with “people search”. When used, it often means something as simple as: “I’m searching for someone's phone number, address or email address”. This specific term has recently been adopted by real estate investors and wholesalers who are looking to reach out to homeowners of distressed properties and need to find contact information on the homeowner.
There are two main ways to skip trace. The first method is to search individually on a people search site. The second method, commonly referred to a “batch skip trace” or “append” is popular when you have hundreds of records and do not want to manually enter each name, phone number, address or email address into a people search. Instead, a batch skip trace is as simple as uploading the file and searching in bulk to get back additional contact information. Companies that offer premium batch skip tracing include Datafinder, ExactData, Datazapp and InfoUSA.
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