Skip Tracing-Finding a disappeared person
SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
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In a recent column, I explored the concept of disappearing. Why you would want to do that is not my concern unless you are my client.
If you are not a client of mine and I have a client that wants to find you, the first place to start would be to conduct a skip trace. This assumes you are a member of a credit reporting bureau, like Equifax or Standard & Poor’s. These companies can give you credit card information, sometimes with addresses.
You can try the U. S. Post Office. There was a time when, for a small fee, you
Could buy any forwarding address order a person left. Homeland Security laws may hamper this approach, but you can try.
You can also go to the Secretary of State’s Office and purchase a driving abstract. You will need the full name and address. If you have Social Security number or driver’s license number it will help. So will the date of birth. You will have to fill out a form telling why you need the abstract, but it is self-explanatory.
I would also mail the person a piece of mail, by certified mail, return receipt requested. This may be returned but could have expired forwarding information on it.
A little detective work could also help. Stop by the address you have. Check the mail box. Write down any return address info on mail in the box. Do not steal the mail. Do not open the mail. It pays to know when local utility bills are sent out. You can then figure out what utilities to contact. Additionally, the utilities may be in the name of someone else. You can then skip trace that person.
The web is full of resources, some free, some inexpensive and some quite expensive. Try the free White Pages search for an address. It is helpful if you have a phone number, even a cell phone number. You can upgrade to People Search. Just Google that term to get a list of similar sites. Intelius is another inexpensive people search website.
If you know where the person went to high school, find that website or another classmate, where are they now?, Website. Visit the profile area. If person is not in it, go to a chat room and post a question about person, saying you are trying to find him/her.
The IRS may also offer some help. If you have filed a collection or other type of case against the person, you can subpoena records from IRS, utilities, including phone companies, do not forget cell phone companies, schools, former employers, insurance companies or about anyone your target had regular contact with. The party may object to giving up records, but let them make the call, not you. The Judge will decide if it is reasonable.
Always go for phone records for who you are looking for and their friends, parents, brothers and sisters. You might find a number that always calls the parents. That could be a son or daughter. That could be your target.
Make contact with Realtors, landlords and property managers in your area. They may be helpful, especially if the person took off owing them money.
Do not break the law or encourage others to break the law. A gift card every now and then as a show of appreciation is not illegal. Make sure it is not tied to the giving of secret information. Loose lips are everywhere, like in a tavern, after a few drinks.
An easy place to search is the Courthouse. All court records are a matter of public record. Most Circuit Clerk’s Offices have computerized searches available. The same is true of land records. Search a name or piece of property at the Recorder of Deeds. These types of records, especially older ones, may have Social Security numbers in the file. Traffic ticket files will have the driver’s license number on the ticket.
If you have clients with a need to track people down, write them a detailed information sheet. Get the Social Security #, Driver’s License #, employer, last two employers, last three addresses, Banking information, next of kin, parents, marital status, high school, college and make of car with license number.
Good luck with our skip tracing. If you are trying to hide, just use this information in reverse.
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BRUCE A. BRENNAN