Like most wonderful tools, skip tracing needs to be used carefully. It is a powerful tool for connecting you to people who do not keep their contact information accessible, but there are some drawbacks. Misused, it could potentially run afoul of privacy laws. It could also alienate the person you are trying to contact, leading to the exact opposite of the situation you were hoping for when you reached out.
Before beginning to skip trace, make sure you understand the basics of the service, its limitations, and the best practices for ethically using the results. Otherwise, it’s just not going to deliver what you are looking for.
What is Skip Tracing?
Named after the tendency of those in debt or trouble to skip town, this tool is a technique used by private investigators to locate hard-to-find individuals. It involves running down various public records while performing extensive web searches using tools that go beyond the surface search you find when using most search engines. What kinds of records get searched?
- Property deeds and titled assets
- Registered mailing addresses
- Yellow and white pages
- Criminal and civil court records
- Papers of record with publicly accessible obituaries, engagement announcements, and other events
- Web and social media account and contact information searches
- Publicly available directories of professional organizations and alumni clubs
- Public records for licensing in the professions & business license registrations
When you work with a top-tier skip tracing service, you might get even more information than this. These are just commonly searched records. Like many investigative services, the quality of your trace is highly dependent on the quality of the professionals providing it and the information they can access. The key to effective skip tracing is working with the people who can deliver the most accurate data from the most sources possible.
Skip Tracing Do’s
Here are the best practices you should be following to make full use of your trace information ethically, with an approach that is likely to make it easier to establish contact and open negotiations.
- Go in with a plan for the property beforehand, use it to define your limits clearly, so you know when to close and when to walk away
- Use a skip tracing service with access to tier-1 tracing data and public records like BatchSkipTracing
- Approach your contacts carefully, making it clear what you are looking for and what you have to offer without putting any pressure on them to act immediately
- Listen carefully and respond appropriately to the tone of the subject’s reply
- If you are looking for real estate leads or other leads for marketing purposes, make sure you work in volume to improve your chances of finding responsive people on the other end of the contact
Skip Tracing Don’ts
Following up on trace data means cold calling the subject, so the same rules apply. On top of that, there are some considerations that are unique to skip tracing because of the nature of the data you seek out.
- Don’t use any aggressive methods or invade anyone’s privacy when seeking information
- Don’t use private records that contain legally protected or confidential information; use public records, or hire a service that does
- Don’t do any footwork, manual tracing, or other work that requires a private investigator’s license unless you have one
- Do not under any circumstances break any local, state, or federal laws while looking for information or acting on it
If you do not know whether something you want to do is legal, it’s best to assume it isn’t. This is especially true when it comes to gathering your contact’s information. Skip tracing from a pay-as-you-go service like BatchSkipTracing is inexpensive and legal, so there is no reason to take risks to get contact leads.
Still undecided about whether you should be using skip tracing to find people? It should be an easy decision with today’s software packages offering complete tracing services without the delay or additional per diem expenses that typically come with private investigators.
That way, you save your budget for those situations where you really can’t find a point of contact on your own. After all, with fast, low-cost skip tracing like BatchSkipTracing at your fingertips, why should you do any more work than you have to?