It says that you give the creditor permission to inquire about and share credit information with other creditors. This has long been the “Secret Weapon” used by ALL bill collectors! Essentially, they can call any of your other creditors and share information about you. This tightly guarded network of skip tracers has worked in cooperation with each other for at least 30 years despite the fact that almost no one outside of the investigation trades knows that the network exists!
Almost every credit grantor (credit cards, banks, etc.) has a skip-tracing department. Although some restrictions apply when contacting these companies, they are usually either very easy or very difficult to deal with, but they are all FREE! The usual restrictions are: they will only assist other creditors or skip tracers; they will only help you during certain hours and days of the week, etc.
These skip-tracing departments offer a wide variety of data. In most cases, you must be able to supply the full name, date of birth, last known address, social security number and occasionally an account number. I have easily obtained addresses, telephone numbers (published and non-published), relatives, employers, bank and credit card references and similar subject data, all without ever having to pay an information broker or database provider! Yes, the skip tracing process does not have to be difficult, but there is a catch. Skip-tracing department phone numbers are not published and practically all companies that have such a department either do not know or will not give them out.
With a little effort you can obtain the telephone numbers. Most credit inquiries come with a telephone number. In the event that they do not, call the credit bureau for the number. They maintain this contact information in case of a consumer dispute.
Start by contacting the creditors most likely to have current information. Ask for the “Skip Trace Department.” If they respond by telling they do not have one or do not assist anyone outside the company, tell them you have information to share that they will need soon. You will most likely be put through to another person, who will be a tracer.
What you do next follows a time honored tradition and “code”:
1. When you first make contact with the tracer, tell them that you have a tough
one and would like to trade some information in return for their help.
2. Offer your call back telephone number immediately. This insures you won’t forget to, and it also lets them know that you are serious about helping them.
3. Also, ask them if they would like a call back when you do find the skip, or if you acquire any new information on the skip that may be of use to them.
4. Verify all of the information you have and ask if they can update any of it. They want to know that you have done some work prior to calling.
5. After you have verified and corrected your information ask for references. The key word is “references.” They will almost never offer or give additional information otherwise. Ask for employment, credit and banking references, as well as alternate contact information.
As a general rule, a person can usually obtain this information without pretexting. This kind of networking will become one of your most valuable tools as a skip tracer. Write down every skip trace number you get your hands on. Always return phone calls and follow up on promises to call back. The tracer on the other end of the phone has recorded your callback number and may call you one day!
I have used skip-tracing departments in used car sales companies and local loan agencies to obtain the most current information. These types of companies require the most information on the application and have a larger stake in their creditors; consequently they are usually the friendliest. The skip’s car may have already been repossessed but they may still have some information to share, such as which agency did the repossession and where the collateral was located.
This article is a small excerpt from The Art of Skip Tracing and Missing Persons Investigations, an online skip tracing course for private investigators.