What Is Skip Tracing and How Does It Work?

Skip tracing refers to the process of locating individuals that are missing from their designated addresses or presumed locations. The assumption is these individuals are trying to skirt financial or legal obligations, but there are other reasons to find people. Skip traces may also be performed by friends or family who want to locate lost relatives.

What Is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is a tracking activity used to find individuals that have been missing. There is a stereotype that it is used in debt collection, so creditors may use this approach to track an unresponsive or missing debtor. However, it is also used for research or by family members to find their lost relatives. Should a person go missing, skip tracing is possible, though this should be treated as a last effort. This is because search engines and social media platforms already provide whereabouts information on the individual.

Who Can Use Skip Tracing?

Different scenarios may need a skip trace search. Skip tracing can be utilized by finance professionals, real estate workers, debt collection agencies, or private investigators. Though the implication of skip tracing is due to financial reasons, it can also be used by attorneys and journalists to find people. Skip tracers do the work of investigation, which bounty hunters use to locate fugitives. Even when people with estranged relatives die, leaving unclaimed assets, skip tracers may track down the next of kin.

What Does Skip Tracing Solve

Skip tracing is necessary for financial recovery within the real estate, corporate, legal, and debt collection industries. It helps people and entities find people who have proven hard to locate. Aside from the fiscal angle, for example, it helps locate people evading the legal system.

Finding People Who Have Skipped Court

When a person does not show up in court on the day they have been summoned, bond personnel or bounty hunters are assigned to find the fugitive. These county hunters then use court records and information from skip tracers to find the fugitive.

skip tracing

Locating Debtors To Collect On Debt

Debt collectors also acquire the services of skip tracers to find people who have defaulted on debts. These debtors may fit different criteria, such as employees who embezzled funds leaving bankruptcy records, tenants who owe money, contractors who abandoned work, or businesses that closed up but still owe money to their clients. It is also used to track landlords who went mute after taking money from tenants without providing services.

Locating People For A Case

Alternatively, legal representatives and law enforcement agents may leverage skip-tracing platforms to find individuals involved in criminal investigations or civil cases. The individual may not be in trouble, though their testimony is required to build a case for the prosecution. These services are especially important in high-profile court cases.

Locating Potential Home Sellers Or Buyers For Real Estate

Real estate agents or angel investors can secure the services of skip tracers to find the contacts of people that want to purchase or sell property. They perform traces on the property owners and then create a contact list that goes into their portfolio. Having lucrative clients in the real estate business can significantly boost career-wise.

Finding People For Legal Research

Legal research is getting information to support decision-making. During cases, paralegals or lawyers may use skip tracing to assess the best approach to take and back their arguments appropriately. It may also be used to verify the criminal records of clients or witnesses to a case.

Finding Family And Friends

Skip tracing also benefits individuals who want to find missing friends and family. Some scenarios warrant the need to find people, such as family members losing contact after a split or adopted children wanting to know their biological parents. Even childhood friends that lose touch can use skip-trace methods to find each other.

How to Skip Trace Someone on My Own?

When you are trying to find out someone's location, especially for legitimate reasons such as to locate a long-missing relative or debtor, there are several methods you can employ to conduct a skip tracing on your own. Below we describe some effective methods:


It is possible to do a skip trace using Google, considering the search engine offers the individual’s names, last known addresses, and various mentions recorded on the internet. It is then possible to find the possible whereabouts of the person.

Social Media

Social media is a significant skip trace tool considering users commonly indicate their locations on images and videos. It is possible to trace movement behavior and potential areas where the person of interest resides or typically visits.

People Finders

People finders provide public records on individuals, such as phone numbers, address histories, and people's backgrounds. It may not be as accurate to find current locations, but the platforms are useful for historical checks.

Genealogy Sites

Genealogy sites are great for connecting persons of interest to social groups, families, or even medical backgrounds. These sites allow individuals to trace their inheritances and find relatives by name. It is not very effective, though, for current location tracing.


These are used to find hidden social media accounts, posts, or profile information so they can be effective in tracking online activity. Should the individual upload location-specific items, it is possible to track their current whereabouts.

What Is Batch Skip Tracing And How To Perform It?

It refers to finding a high number of people without having a direct line of connection to them. Batch tracing may be used by real estate firms that need liens and asset records in bulk concerning buyers or sellers. These may be in the form of phone numbers, addresses, or emails. It can be done using a public records search engine that provides information on a group of people or entities in the same field.


Skip tracing is an investigative activity used to find the current location of people that have gone missing or have proven hard to find. Due to the numerous law enforcement or financial applications, it is commonly used by bounty hunters, debt collectors, and police to find people who are trying to flee their obligations. However, skip tracing may also be used by a family trying to find lost relatives or friends who have not been in touch. It is possible as well to perform skip tracing at a basic level using social media or Google by looking for location clues.