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Uncovering the Craft of Skip Tracing: What It Takes to Locate a Person with Limited Information

 When there’s a need to uncover important information about someone who is not easily accessible, skip investigations can be a valuable tool. Skip investigations are conducted by professional investigators to find people or businesses that have gone missing or can't be found. In these cases, there may be very little to go on, so how do investigators make progress? Let’s look at how skip investigations work and what techniques they use when there’s not much data available. 

Craft of Skip Tracing

The Tools of the Trade

First and foremost, skip investigators must have a thorough knowledge of all the tools available to them. These could include public records searches, background checks, social media monitoring, credit reports, phone number searches, and more. It is up to the investigator to determine which methods will likely yield the best results based on the particular case they are investigating. 

For example, if an investigator is looking for a person who has changed their name or moved without leaving a forwarding address behind, then public records research might be their best bet for finding pertinent information. On the other hand, if the individual in question appears to have left no digital footprint behind whatsoever—or has been actively avoiding detection—then credit reports might provide clues that could lead to their location.

On top of the traditional methods that investigators use, they also use skip-tracing services to help them on their jobs. Skip-tracing services have become an ever-growing part of investigation work in recent years. A benefit the skip-trace services give the investigator is access to databases which can usually help locate a person or piece of information they need. They also provide background checks, surveillance, and increased research capabilities than the traditional methods used by investigators can reach. It helps to narrow down the focus of an investigation when skip-trace services are effectively used in tandem with traditional investigative tactics. This added resource provides investigators with finer details and more accurate results, making it essential for investigations today.


Data Sources

There’s also identifying which data sources are available and relevant to the search. This could include public records such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, court documents, property records and voting records; social media accounts; and professional databases such as LexisNexis or Experian. It’s important to remember that the type of data they’re looking for will dictate the type of source they need. For example, if they’re trying to locate someone by name alone, then public records may be the best bet. 


Information Gathering

Once they know which sources are available and relevant to a specific case, it’s time to start gathering additional information about the person they’ll be searching for. This could include their date of birth (DOB), home address, phone number(s), email address(es), aliases they may have used in the past or present (including maiden names), Social Security Number (SSN), driver’s license number or other identifying details that may help locate them. This is also where cross-checking different sources come into play. By using multiple data points from different sources—such as their DOB from one source and their SSN from another—they can increase the chances of confirming the identity of the target person before moving forward with the investigation.  


Search Strategy

Once all of the necessary information about the target person has been gathered, it’s time to develop a comprehensive search strategy tailored specifically to the case. This strategy should include a plan for utilizing all available resources such as public records searches, social media accounts searches (i.e., Facebook and LinkedIn), background checks through professional databases such as LexisNexis or Experian, and other investigative techniques such as interviews with family members or former colleagues/associates who may have more insights into the target person's recent activities or whereabouts. It is also important to remember that trends change over time so the present strategy should be flexible enough to adjust accordingly based on new information or changes in technology or regulations surrounding data collection and usage.    


Data Analysis and Creative Problem-Solving Skills

When there is little data available for a skip investigation—such as when an individual has no known family members or former employers—investigators must rely on creative problem-solving skills and data analysis techniques to make progress. They may need to think outside of the box and piece together bits of seemingly unrelated information to paint a picture of where the person (or business) in question might be located.   

Skip investigators often comb through public records databases in search of any tangential connections that could lead them closer to their goal; they may also reach out to contacts in law enforcement and other government agencies who might have access to more detailed information than what is publicly available. Additionally, skip investigators may consult with experts in various fields such as real estate or business law who can provide insights into any legal issues associated with the case at hand that could help advance their investigation further along. 

In some cases,  investigators must get creative. For example, a skip-tracing specialist may track down an individual who had gone missing by researching the price of salon lash extensions in various cities and states. Lash extensions help accentuate a person’s eyes and in some cases may also alter their whole look altogether, making it difficult for investigators to focus on facial features. But by following the trail of relatively cheap purchases, they can piece together the individual’s movements and ultimately locate them. Though it may seem like an unconventional strategy at first, this creative approach allows some cases to be resolved quickly despite having limited resources to work with.



Overall, skip tracing is an intricate and complex process that requires a great deal of knowledge and experience. By utilizing the right resources—such as public records searches, background checks through professional databases, interviews with family members or former colleagues/associates—and employing creative problem-solving skills such as data analysis techniques and outside-the-box thinking to make connections between seemingly unrelated information points, investigators can increase their chances of successfully locating the target person. With patience, dedication, sound judgment and attention to detail throughout each step in the process skip tracers can achieve success more often than not.

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