What Is Skip Tracing? How It Works & What You Should Know

As a business owner or freelancer, encountering situations where clients refuse to pay for services rendered and then become unresponsive can be frustrating and financially challenging. When traditional methods of communication like emails, calls, and letters fail to elicit any response, and it appears that the client has intentionally disappeared, hiring a skip tracer emerges as a practical and necessary solution. Skip tracing, a specialized investigative technique, allows business owners and freelancers to locate these elusive clients by delving into various sources of information such as public records, databases, and personal connections.

By leveraging skip tracing services, businesses can reclaim unpaid debts and resume normal operations without being hindered by non-paying or unresponsive clients, thereby safeguarding their financial stability and ensuring fair compensation for their work.

What is Skip Tracing?

Skip tracing is a specialized investigative process aimed at locating individuals who are missing or challenging to contact, particularly those with outstanding debts or financial responsibilities. The term “skip” originates from individuals who have deliberately disappeared, leaving behind minimal clues about their whereabouts. The primary objective of skip tracing is to “trace” or systematically track down these individuals using a combination of investigative techniques. Skip tracers utilize a variety of resources including public records, databases, and personal contacts to piece together information and establish a trail leading to the subject’s current location. This practice is crucial for debt collection agencies, legal professionals, and businesses seeking to recover unpaid dues or establish contact with individuals avoiding communication. Through skip tracing, businesses can efficiently resolve financial disputes and mitigate the impact of non-payment on their operations.

How Skip Tracing Works

Skip tracers initiate their investigations by validating available contact details like addresses, phone numbers, and emails. In cases where this information is outdated or inaccurate, they resort to accessing public records, databases, and specialized investigation tools to gather comprehensive data. This extensive search may involve examining address histories, court records, credit applications, and employment backgrounds to piece together a clearer picture.

Additionally, skip tracers often reach out to the subject’s acquaintances, friends, or family members to obtain valuable leads. Although commonly used for locating debtors, skip tracing extends its utility to legal proceedings, real estate transactions, and even personal endeavors like reconnecting with missing loved ones or friends. By harnessing a diverse array of resources and strategies, skip tracers play a pivotal role in resolving financial disputes, facilitating legal proceedings, and reestablishing crucial connections within communities.

Why Skip Tracing is Important

Skip tracing serves various purposes across different industries:

  • Legal Proceedings: Skip tracing helps locate individuals who have failed to appear in court or are needed as witnesses.
  • Debt Collection: It assists in locating debtors who have defaulted on payments.
  • Real Estate: Real estate agents use skip tracing to find potential buyers and sellers.
  • Personal Relationships: Skip tracing can help reconnect with lost friends, family, or adopted individuals.

When to Use a Skip Tracer

Consider hiring a skip tracer when:

  • You cannot locate an individual despite having some information.
  • You suspect the person is in a specific area.
  • You need to verify if someone is deceased or incarcerated.

Cost of Skip Tracing

The cost of skip tracing can vary depending on the difficulty of the search. For simpler searches, there is usually a fixed fee ranging from $250 to $500. However, for more intricate investigations that require additional time and resources, skip tracers typically charge an hourly rate ranging from $95 to $200 per hour. Batch skip tracing, which involves processing multiple records at once, can cost anywhere from $0.10 to $3 per record. These varying costs reflect the complexity of the task and the level of expertise required to successfully locate individuals through skip tracing methods.

DIY Skip Tracing Methods & Tips

Although individuals can try basic skip tracing methods on their own, it is advisable to enlist the services of a professional skip tracer for more reliable and efficient results. While online tools such as search engines, social media platforms, people finders, and genealogy websites can be helpful, they often provide incomplete or inaccurate information. Professional skip tracers possess specialized skills and access to comprehensive databases that enable them to conduct thorough investigations and track down individuals more effectively. This ensures that the skip tracing process is conducted legally and ethically, yielding more accurate and actionable results compared to DIY methods.

Is Skip Tracing Legal?

Skip tracing is a legal practice as long as investigators comply with applicable local laws and regulations. This investigative process entails accessing public records and databases in a lawful manner to gather information about individuals. By ensuring adherence to legal guidelines, skip tracers conduct their work ethically and responsibly, respecting privacy rights and maintaining the integrity of the information obtained. Accessing public records and databases lawfully is essential to the legitimacy and effectiveness of skip tracing efforts, enabling investigators to obtain accurate and relevant information while upholding legal standards and ethical principles.


Skip tracing is a highly valuable service utilized across diverse industries to locate individuals for a range of purposes, including legal, financial, or personal matters. Whether you are a business owner seeking to recover outstanding debts or an individual aiming to reconnect with a missing person, skip tracing offers a systematic and methodical approach to finding individuals who are difficult to locate. Hiring a professional skip tracer ensures access to specialized resources, tools, and databases that enhance the effectiveness of the search. Professional skip tracers possess the expertise to navigate complex investigations and employ advanced techniques, resulting in more accurate and efficient outcomes in locating individuals, regardless of the underlying reasons for the search.