How Do Skip Tracers Find People Trying to Stay Hidden?

Have you ever seen one of those bounty hunter shows depicting guys in black vans bringing deadbeats in after they’ve jumped bail? Have you ever wondered how bounty hunters find their targets? They practice something known as skip tracing. A skilled skip tracer can find most people. It may take time and considerable effort, but it can be done.

Skip tracing is a tactic used to find people who fail to appear in court. It is also used by debt collection agencies trying to collect unpaid judgments. According to, out of Salt Lake City, UT, skip tracing is one of their most valuable tactical skills.

Even attorneys looking for deadbeat spouses rely on skip tracing to find their targets. They need to find the deadbeats in order to compel legally enforceable child support and maintenance payments.

It’s All About Information

The number one secret to successful skip tracing is information. Collection agents and bounty hunters alike need the right information to lead them to their targets. Fortunately, there is no shortage of such information. It is out there if you know where and how to look for it. Here are just some of the sources skip tracers turn to:

1. Public Records

One of the most reliable sources of accurate information is public records produced by government agencies. Skip tracers will look at property transactions to see if their targets have bought or sold property recently. They will also look at arrest records, court records, and even marriage records.

The beauty of public records is that they cannot be withheld. Not only that, but they are also easily accessible online. As long as you know where to look, you can find a ton of information in public records.

2. Social Media

In recent years, social media has become one of the skip tracer’s best friends. Fortunately for them, most people are extremely careless about their social media activity. Even people trying hard not to be found leave digital trails on their social sites. As a side note, social media is such a good tool that police agencies now use it to investigate crimes.

3. Proprietary Databases

Organizations of all kinds keep proprietary databases on customers and contacts. They can legally sell that information to advertisers. Guess what? They can sell it to skip tracers, too. Rest assured that the best skip tracers take full advantage of it. They will buy the same data advertisers buy but use it to track people down.

4. Personal Contacts

A good skip tracer knows enough to contact a target’s friends and family members for information. Valuable information is not always forthcoming, so the skip tracer needs to know what types of questions to ask and how to ask them. The other side of the coin is alerting the target to the fact that he’s being searched for.

There are other sources of information that this post doesn’t have time to get into. Needless to say that skip tracing involves a lot of research and investigation. It involves poking around, turning over rocks, and looking in places where people don’t normally look.

Personal Privacy Is Limited

Watching skip tracers work can be quite fascinating. On the other hand, their work is also a stark reminder that personal privacy in the 21st century is limited. There is so much information on all of us floating around out there that successfully hiding on a permanent basis is nearly impossible. Skip tracers know that. They succeed in their work because they know how to look for little bits of information that ultimately lead them to the target.

Eric Sara
the authorEric Sara