I do a reasonable amount of skip tracing (locating people) for finance companies and global law firms. Recently I have been asking my clients what is their in-house skip tracing process.
1. Send a letter by post to the subject.
2. Call the phone number in the file.
If neither of these are successful, the client will use an online database. If the database report provides an updated address and phone number.
3. Send another letter.
4. Call the new number.
I am against using databases in the skip tracing process. Much of it is regurgitated and not necessarily accurate. The other issue is that just because a database shows a subject living on 10 Main Street, it does not mean the subject is currently located at 10 Main Street. Databases are based on past information so there is no verification of the here and now. Even if the utilities, cable or phone number is registered to your subject.
Let me point out that some of the larger companies do not call the phone numbers on file and relied more on postal communications. This is a short sighted way of skip tracing, since some individuals move and do not forward their mail but much of the time do keep the same phone number. Also, sending a postal letter is a passive way of locating people, this would include a registered letter as well. A letter sent only proves a letter was sent, it does not reveal if a person is or is not at an address.
The first rule in skip tracing is to call Directory Assistance from a mobile or landline phone. Sometimes directory Assistance is more current and you may get a hit on the subject. You would be surprised at how many people I have located in a matter of minutes by making the Directory Assistance call.
Remember, if you do get a hit via Directory you need to verify it is your subject and your subject is currently at that address provided. A simple pretext can answer that question. “Hi, this is Max from ABC Shipping, we have a water damaged package for Mr. Jones, J.O.N.E.Z.” I misspell the subjects last name and if I have the right person, he or she usually corrects me. I always ask for the zip code, the building number and then the street name. Sometimes the subject will get paranoid and halfway through the pretext stop providing information. if I have the zip code, I now know what city. If I have the zip code and building number, I can easily locate the street name.
So, before you go on the hunt, try the Directory Assistance call, you might get a hit.
Frank M. Ahearn