Fri, 09 Jun 2023

Skip Tracing and How It Works

19 Jan 2022, 23:24 GMT+10

Skip Tracing has become a necessity in today's world because of the increasingly complex nature of privacy laws that protect consumers' identity and financial history, along with technology that can shield someone's identity. Skip Tracing is the only way to get the information that investigative professionals need in order to complete their job correctly. Skip tracers are basically modern-day detectives, but instead of following a person physically, they track them down by following paper trails which can lead them anywhere in the world depending on how long ago someone stopped being where they were. Skip tracing has been around for decades and was primarily done by private investigators, but over time Skip Tracers have become more trained and specialized.

How to become a Skip Tracer?

Skip tracers go through a rigorous training process that takes about six months to complete. Once one becomes a skip tracer, they must also meet certain criteria:

  • Licensed Private Investigator (in most states)
  • Insurance Bond (minimum of $100,000)
  • Skip Tracer License (when applicable)
  • Registered with the National Association for Skip Tracing Professionals

What does a Skip Tracer do?

Skip tracing can be done by finding someone's last known address, phone number, current location, or any information that might lead to finding that person. Skip tracing is a service that Skip Tracers offer to those who hire them. Skip tracers also help people find missing family members, locate witnesses and track down debtors. Skip tracers find people for a variety of reasons:

  • Child Custody Battles
  • Debt Collection
  • Insurance Claims/Benefits Check
  • Missing Persons

How does it work?

Skip tracers use different techniques to find the person they are looking for. Skip Tracers can follow a paper trail, using public records. Skip tracers call people who may know where the target is located by asking questions designed to give them clues as to where that person might be. Skip tracers also make phone calls or send emails in an effort to contact the person. Skip Tracers may also knock on doors of potential friends or family members to see if they have seen their subject recently.

People who can help Skip Tracers find a missing person include:

  • Neighbors
  • Friends and Family
  • Landlords/Tenants
  • Former Employers
  • Credit Bureaus to find previous addresses/phone numbers
  • Skip Tracing Companies who have access to more resources than Skip Tracers do at their own disposal

When Skip Tracers finally locate the missing person, they must work out an arrangement with the subject in order to stop the tracing. The Skip Tracers must let the person know that they have been looking for them, and then negotiate a figure with which they will settle in exchange for calling off the searches. If Skip Tracers do not pay up, the person's name may be added to a "Do not call" list. Skip Tracers do not want this to happen as the result is that they will no longer be able to conduct tracing on anyone who appears on this list, which means that they can no longer work.

In some cases Skip Traces may end up with a criminal tracing, they are not supposed to conduct criminal tracing of any kind without proper licenses. If Skip Tracers do not have a license, they may be at risk for prosecution under the law.

What is the process for hiring a skip tracing company?

Skip tracing services provided by an outside collection agency can be more cost-effective than hiring an individual skip tracer. Most skip tracing companies do not require up-front payment when you hire them for this purpose. Some will even give you a free consultation to see how they can help you.

Skip tracing services are usually billed on an hourly basis, so it is important to have some idea of the scope of your search before hiring someone to investigate it for you. Most companies provide clients with reports detailing their findings. If you need information immediately, many tracing firms specialize in providing fast turnaround times.

Some investigators charge by results - for example, whether or not anything is found within a certain time period. Other investigators charge both by results and by time spent conducting the investigation.

How much does Skip Tracing cost?

It's all about the research and the time. There is no set price for Skip Tracing, as it depends on what you are looking for. Different investigators charge different rates, so check around and find out what each company charges. As a general rule of thumb though:

  • You can expect to pay between $35 and $90 per hour
  • A search will typically take between 1-20 hours
  • It can cost upwards of $1,000 - $3,000+ if you are searching through several databases at once


Skip Tracing has become a necessity in today's world. With the increasingly complex nature of privacy laws that protect consumers' identity and financial history, along with technology that can shield someone's identity, it is necessary for investigative professionals to use skip tracing in order to get the information they need. These days, without this process there would be no way to complete their job correctly. We hope you enjoyed learning more about the importance of Skip Tracing and how they are able to help people find what they're looking for!

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