A skip tracer is someone skilled in gathering the whereabouts of people, who skip debt, for the purpose of collections. The work can be challenging and at the same time, delicate as that of an artist!
The society has become more and more mobile. People just don’t seem to stay in one place any more. Even with the advantages that the latest technologies have brought to us, it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate people who owe companies money. This is why companies in the US have a list of consumers who need to be traced.
What Is Skiptracing?
Skiptracing is following the trail of, tracking down, searching for and/or uncovering the location of an individual who disappeared, fled, absconded, or relocated due to change of job, etc, without paying his or her debt, that is.
There are as many reasons for a person to be on the list of debtors who skip, as they are debtors themselves. Most skips are unintentional. Unintentional skips may be irresponsible in that they didn’t notify creditors of their move, and didn’t arrange to have their mail forwarded. It is also possible that they were forced to move suddenly, and did not have an opportunity to leave a forwarding address.
Skiptracing is the art of developing location information about debtors for the purpose of collecting on delinquent accounts.
The skiptracer will acquire information about debtors who no longer live, or work, at a known address to develop current information on their whereabouts, and to locate assets that will pay their delinquent debts.
The objective ofÂ skiptracing is one of gathering of pertinent information leading to the whereabouts of a debtor. Skiptracing improves collection effectiveness, reduces collateral losses, and develops skills that will serve in resolving ‘personal conflict’ situations.
When we actually start skiptracing we need to define some parameters and adhere to the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and theÂ State Laws. The FDCPA works like a traffic signal; it informs you when to proceed, when to be cautious, and when to stop. Violations of these policies also carry consequences that may result in termination, fines, or incarceration.
The FDCPAÂ states mainly the following:
- The collector or skiptracer cannot state that a consumer owes any debt to anyone other than the consumer without permission
- The collector or skiptracer cannot send a postcard to the debtor
- The collector or skiptracer cannot use any language that is offensive or abusive to the debtor
- The collector or skiptracer cannot communicate with anyone other than the debtor more than once unless he is given permission, or if the collector believes the information received was incorrect
A good skiptracer is the result of experience developed over a long period of time. A quick mind is definitely a plus, but even that comes with time and practice. A relatively untrained person, with a good understanding of the essentials, who is willing to work hard at uncovering information, can become a good skiptracer. A skiptracer must think like aÂ consumer and a detective.
Some of the skills s/he must have are:
- The ability to believe in whatÂ s/he is doing
- Good telephonic voice and techniques
- Confidence and tact
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- Persistence, determination and perseverance
The client would send some information on the skiptracer andÂ our collector would retrieve more information from the tools provided to him/her. The agent would check for bankruptcy, deceased status, and would call the nearby people. By far, one of the quickest ways to locate a consumer is through a call to the county tax assessor department. It gives you the property owner’s name and almost always a home telephone number. Landlords almost always have a home and work number of their tenants.
Some of the tools available and used are for tracing consumer information are:
Riskwise, Accurint, Peoplesearch,ChoicePoint.
Return On Investment: A skiptracer would collect on a delinquent account, $250—1,000 a month. The cost per hour for the service would be $55. Typically, industry search success has ranged on 5 percent. This translates into an efficiency of 30—50 percent.
Deepti Natali, senior manager (transition), Tracmail