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Everything you need to know about skip tracing

skip tracing

Everything you need to know about skip tracing

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone owes you money or disappeared, leaving you in a predicament? If so, you may have heard of the term “skip tracing.” In this article we will delve into what it is, how it works, its importance, when you might need it, and much more. Whether you’re a business owner, a legal professional, or an individual searching for a missing person, skip tracing can be a valuable tool at your disposal.


What is skip tracing?

At its core, skip tracing is the process of locating individuals who have intentionally gone missing or become hard to find. The term “skip” in skip tracing refers to someone who has disappeared or skipped town, while “trace” pertains to the act of tracking down and finding their location. This process is widely used in various contexts, including debt collection, legal proceedings, and personal searches.

Unlike searching for missing persons, which is primarily the domain of law enforcement agencies, skip tracing is typically related to financial or legal matters. It involves tracking down debtors, individuals who have skipped bail, witnesses, or even long-lost friends and family members.


Who uses skip tracing?

Skip tracing is a versatile tool employed by various industries and professionals, including:

  1. Debt collection agencies: Businesses, banks, and financial institutions often hire skip tracers to locate debtors who have failed to repay their debts.
  2. Legal professionals: Lawyers and law firms may use skip tracing to find witnesses, individuals of interest, or parties involved in a legal case.
  3. Private investigators: In more complex cases, private investigators leverage skip tracing to find missing individuals.
  4. Missing persons searches: People looking to reconnect with long-lost family members or locate assets also utilise skip tracing services.


How does it work?

It typically commences with basic information about the person you’re trying to find, such as their name, date of birth, last known address, or drivers licence number. Armed with this data, a skip tracer embarks on an investigation by scouring public records for additional information. These records can include property records, court records, criminal records, and marriage/divorce records.

Private investigators often engage in this sort of service, offering access to a broader range of resources such as credit reports, utility records, employment records, and the ability to run comprehensive background checks.

In some cases, it might involve surveillance to locate an individual’s current whereabouts, although this is usually considered a last resort due to its cost and time-intensive nature.

In Australian, skip tracing is legal and ethical, but only if you obtain the information you need through lawful means and you understand the appropriate privacy and rules and regulations. This includes avoiding violence, lying to financial institutions, or otherwise breaking the law. It is important to check your state laws before skip tracing to ensure that you are not violating any privacy or other laws.

Here are some specific examples of illegal tactics:

  • Hacking into someone’s computer or email account
  • Impersonating a government official or other authority figure
  • Using threats or intimidation to obtain information
  • Bribing someone to give you information
  • Accessing public records without a legitimate purpose


Why would someone need to use skip tracing?

  1. Recovering debts: Businesses and individuals employ skip tracing to track down individuals who owe money for unpaid bills or services rendered.
  2. Locating fugitives: Skip tracing can aid in finding individuals who have skipped bail or are fugitives from the law.
  3. Legal proceedings: Lawyers may use skip tracing to find crucial witnesses for court cases.
  4. Missing persons: Skip tracing is invaluable in reuniting families or locating assets for estate administration.
  5. Tax Evasion: To uncover individuals who have underreported income to tax authorities.
  6. Security Concerns: In cases where individuals fear for their safety or are victims of harassment.


What are the different methods of skip tracing?

Various methods are employed for skip tracing, depending on the information available. These methods include:

  1. Public records search: The most fundamental method involves searching public records (such as ASIC searches) for information related to the person you are looking for.
  2. Credit reports: Debtors with financial obligations to institutions may have information on their credit reports, providing details about their current address or place of employment.
  3. Utility records: Searching for utility records can help locate an individual’s current address if they are trying to remain hidden.
  4. Employment records: Investigating employment records is another method to find a person’s current address, especially if they’ve altered their name or information.
  5. Background checks: Comprehensive background checks can provide information on an individual’s address, criminal history, and other pertinent details.


Can I hire a private investigator to do the job?

Yes, you can enlist the services of a private investigator for skip tracing. Private investigators possess access to a broad range of resources, including credit reports, utility records, employment records, and the ability to conduct extensive background checks. If you’re attempting to locate someone for reasons such as debt recovery, court proceedings, or a missing person search, a private investigator can be a valuable asset.


How much does it cost?

The cost of skip tracing varies based on the methods used and the available information. Public records searches are typically more affordable, while hiring a private investigator may be more expensive but offers a higher likelihood of success.

The complexity of finding the person you’re looking for also impacts the cost. If the individual is relatively easy to find, it will generally be less expensive than if the person is elusive and challenging to locate.

When budgeting for skip tracing, it’s essential to consider the potential return on investment, especially when it involves recovering debts or serving legal proceedings.


Why is it important to use an efficient product?

Efficiency is crucial when it comes to skip tracing. It’s not merely a matter of finding someone quickly; it’s about finding them accurately. Skip tracing products and services play a vital role in ensuring successful outcomes. An efficient skip tracing product offers the following advantages:

  1. Speed and accuracy: Advanced tools provide rapid and precise results, helping you locate debtors and collect overdue payments.
  2. Comprehensive searches: These tools enable you to search for individuals and businesses effectively, cross-reference data, and verify information from reputable sources.
  3. Access to quality data: Reputable skip tracing products offer access to vast and reliable data sources, increasing the chances of a successful search.
  4. Cost-effective solutions: While skip tracing can be time-consuming and expensive, efficient tools provide a cost-effective way to find individuals quickly and accurately.

Skip tracing is an invaluable tool used to locate individuals who have disappeared or are difficult to find, serving various industries and personal purposes. In situations involving debt collection, legal matters, or personal searches, efficiency can make all the difference. Choosing the right product or service, ensures that you can find the information you need quickly and accurately, ultimately achieving successful outcomes.

Need assistance with your commercial matter? Contact us on 03 8590 8390 for a 20 minute free consultation with one of our experienced Melbourne lawyers.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

Last updated: 24 October 2023 Article by: Halil Gokler

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