When a customer or client skips out on your bill, it might take a monumental effort on your part to collect. Skip tracing is the act of locating missing persons, especially those who owe a debt. Automobile repossession services, creditors and collection agencies employ skip tracers to find the home or office information for specific individuals, but these services cost money. As a business owner, it is your job to know as many skip tracing tricks as possible so that you can do the majority of your skip tracing by yourself.
Does the subject of your skip tracing efforts own a corporation?
In the past, if you had to find out if a specific individual owned a corporation, you would have to visit your county courthouse and spend hours looking through hard copies of records. Now, the Internet has tons of information regarding the owners of corporations. You can conduct a simple Google search and you might come up with something useful or you can use one of the paid database websites on the 'Net. You might also visit the Secretary of State website for your state and find out if they have an Internet search tool that can aid in your skip tracing efforts.
Do you have an old address for the individual you are trying to find?
Even if your client or customer has moved since you last spoke with him or her, you might be able to find a current address by locating a forwarding address. For example, if he or she lived in an apartment complex, you could probably call the leasing office and ask if a forwarding address was left. You can also call your local post office to see if they have any information. Skip tracing involves quite a bit of guess-and-check, so be prepared to do the legwork.
Does the individual have a website?
If you know that the subject of your skip tracing efforts has a website, you might be able to find information by visiting. Look for phone numbers, addresses and other clues that might help you find where he or she is living or working. Be aware that, on many websites, contact information is buried, so look for pages that are called "About Us" or "Get a Quote" or "For More Information". If your client is in a business, he or she has to give customers a way to get in touch.
Was there a cosigner on the loan or line of credit?
If your client or customer cosigned with another individual, you might be able to find him or her that way. Call the cosigner and let him or her know that the amount is due in full right now. Stress the fact that if your client doesn't pay up, the cosigner will be responsible for fulfilling the financial obligation. Most people aren't willing to take a hit on their credit report for anyone -- even family -- so this might be your best bet for skip tracing.
Do you have the individual's e-mail address?
Many websites are now offering "reverse e-mail searches" in addition to phone number and address searches. If you have an e-mail address for the individual who owes you money, try running a search at WhitePages.com or InfoSearch.com. You won't find every e-mail address attached to a person, but you might get lucky.
Do you have their social security number?
Many Internet companies offer cost-effective skip tracing services that will locate the current address and check here
telephone number for delinquent accounts. If you extended credit to the subject of your skip tracing efforts, then you probably have their social security number. MAD Collection Agency is a popular service, and charges only $25.00 for one-business-day turn-around. This might be your best bet if all other efforts have been exhausted.
Skip tracing is never much fun, but you shouldn't let debts overrun your business. If you find that you are ill-equipped to handle skip tracing, hire an outside agency that can better accomplish your goals.