What Is Skip Tracing & Who Can Benefit From It


Leaving for vacation is fun and exciting, but many people actually skip town to get away from financial responsibilities and debt. If you’ve ever come across someone who’s done this, you may have also heard about how they were eventually tracked down. In this article, we will discuss what is skip tracing, who can benefit from it, how much it might be, and the process.

What Is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is the process of finding the whereabouts of a debtor who has left or ‘skipped’ a town. This mainly occurs when the debtor refuses to get in touch with their debt collector purposely and vanishes. While this may seem like a good option, it can land someone in a lot of trouble if they pull a stunt like this.

The person who conducts the skip tracing is referred to as a skip tracer. They are responsible for the skip trace or locating the debtor. It is easy to confuse a skip tracer with a bounty hunter or bail bondsman; skip tracers often help bounty hunters and bail bondsmen locate the person, and then begin the job of fugitive recovery.

That being said, the process of skip tracing is sometimes used interchangeably with bounty hunting.

If you’re still trying to understand what is skip tracing, the film The Rundown (2003) can help. The main character Beck, played by Dwyane Johnson, is a bounty hunter who recovers Travis, portrayed by Seann William Scott. If you understand skip tracing, the movie is still worth watching!

DID YOU KNOW? Don’t confuse skip tracing with stalking. Stalking is illegal and has serious consequences; skip tracing is legally looking for a person for a legitimate reason, such as being missing or owing to the debt.

Who Can Benefit From a Skip Tracing Service?

Many groups in society can benefit from a skip tracing service, and anyone can use it. Here are the most types of people who use skip tracing to locate someone:

  • Debt collectors
  • Landlords
  • Medical finance professionals
  • Lawyers and other legal personal
  • Banks
  • Credit card companies
  • Private businesses
  • Journalists
  • Detectives

Now let’s take a look at some of the most common situations when a skip trace search is conducted:

Looking for Friends or Family

Skip tracing is often used by people to locate their missing friends or family members. Many individuals may hire a private investigator to get in touch with others that they’ve lost contact with or are unable to locate.

Collecting Debt

This is one of the most popular debt collection tactics. Debt collectors can locate a person through credit reports in order to recover and make debt payments. These agents are either hired personally, or a debt collection agency hires them. Many other companies also specialize in skip trace services.

Finding Sellers and Buyer Leads in Real Estate

Apart from recovering an individual, real estate agents also use skip tracing to find sellers and buyers in real estate. Doing so helps them expand their business, or sell their listed house faster. In addition, this also helps to focus efforts on a customer or seller who will actually take part in the process.

Looking for an Individual Regarding a Legal Case

If you’ve ever seen an action or thriller movie, you should already know that skip tracing is often used to locate someone involved in a legal case. Journalists, lawyers, or the police will often conduct a skip tracing search.

Businesses and Private Companies

Recruiters often conduct a background check before hiring a new employee. This includes criminal background checks, identity checks through a social security number, location, and more. This is all actually done by skip tracing as well.

DID YOU KNOW? Banks and credit card companies can also conduct a skip trace before loaning credit to you.

Key Takeaways

Skip tracing is the process of locating someone’s whereabouts. It is mainly done to find someone who has purposely disappeared to avoid financial responsibilities.
Debt collecting agencies, lawyers, companies, and landlords use skip tracing techniques to locate an individual as well.
Banks and credit card companies also use this technique to conduct background checks on the person they’re loaning money to.
Finally, it is also used by real estate agents to locate buyers and sellers in the market.

The Process of Skip Tracing

The process of skip tracing may vary from one person to another. It becomes complicated if little is known about the missing individual in question, but can easily be done if all needed information is available. Here are a few standard steps are taken to make a skip trace report.

Verifying the Information of the Debtor

The first step in the process is verifying the information of the debtor provided by the agency or the creditor. It includes the social security number, as well as other identifying documents. Skip tracers also conduct a phone number search on the deep web to identify and locate the person.

Gathering All the Necessary Information on the Debtor

The next step is more lengthy and complicated. It involves gathering information on the debtor using all means necessary. These include checking for job application information, credit card applications, public tax information, utility bills, and even looking through Whitepages to find a missed payment. Many are also able to gather information based on collection letters, pen-source databases, skip trace databases, and credit files.

Getting in Touch With Friends and Family

If a person has skipped town, there is a big chance that they’ve contacted or informed close friends or family. The process involves getting in touch with these close individuals to locate the person.

DID YOU KNOW? Skip tracers only gather the information that is available legally and is public. Any reputable tracer will not engage in illegal methods of gathering information, as it is against the law.

How Much Does Skip Tracing Cost?

Skip tracing services cost anywhere around $450-$800 for a basic search. A rushed search, which is often completed in a week, costs between $500-$1000. Rarely does any company work on a ‘no find, no charge’ basis.

DID YOU KNOW? The salary of skip tracers varies between $27,000 and $45,000 annually. Talk about a good career option!

How to Skip Trace Someone

In the present day, anyone can skip trace someone through the internet. Unless you take major steps to remain anonymous online, anyone can find you if they try hard enough. A simple Google search can provide you with up-to-date information about the person you’re looking for. Many websites also find people’s profiles for free.

Another way to skip trace someone by yourself is by looking through their social media, including job search engines. While social media allows us to connect with different people, it is also used to skip trace non-payers.

You can also do internet searches on various people search sites like Truthfinder or InstantCheckmate.


The general skip tracing definition is someone searching for a person who has left town, mainly due to financial reasons. It is a process most widely used by debt collecting agencies, lawyers, and family members to locate a missing person. The process involves verifying information provided, looking through public records, and talking to people who know the person. While it is usually completed by professionals, anyone can skip trace another through the internet.


Is skip tracing legal?

Yes! Skip tracing is legal as long as the purpose is clear, and you’re not breaking any laws in the process of collecting information.

How long does a skip trace take?

It varies from one tracer to another. Some take 48 hours, while others take up to 15 days. It depends upon several factors such as the sense of urgency.

How does a skip trace work?

Still asking yourself, “what is skip tracing?” In summary, skip tracing is looking for someone’s whereabouts. This is done by looking at public records, internet searches, and contacting the individual’s friends and family.


I learned a lot about finance after working for a digital marketing company specializing in investing and trading stocks, forex, etc. After that, I got exposed to other verticals such as wealth management and personal finance, which further improved my understanding of the financial world.

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