What Is A Skip Tracer

When it comes to finding someone who has made it their mission not to be found, you might find yourself at a loss for where to start. America is a huge country; how on earth could anyone track a missing person down?

Just in case you should happen to find yourself in a situation where you need to work out how to find a missing person, you should always know how to proceed. The first thing that you should do when it comes to finding a missing person is to hire the help of a skip tracer. 

But what on earth is a skip tracer, I hear you ask, and how can they help me find a missing person?

Why Do People Go Missing?

There are many different reasons why a person might go missing. Sometimes, a person will go on the run in order to avoid paying their debts or from having active warrants from which they see no other option. This might even relate to a person’s desire to have a new start in life by moving elsewhere, without informing their loved ones of the decision.

Alternatively, disappearances might be more accidental in nature. Some people might go missing simply by getting lost. People might otherwise get injured and, being unable to help themselves, might end up not being able to return home. People with mental health concerns might also wander off due to experiencing an unbearable level of stress or confusion.

The person you’re attempting to locate may not be missing at all and instead is just a family member or friend to which you haven’t had contact with for several years and there isn’t any social identifiers to aid you in the location of the person. 

What Is A Skip Tracer?

A skip tracer—sometimes referred to as a people locate, fittingly—is a professional individual who works to track down people who have gone missing. Skip tracers have access to a number of different sources of information in order to help them find a missing person. By making use of every little clue that they can uncover about an individual, a skip tracer can then begin to piece together the story of what went on in order to come up with a conclusion about why the person went missing. From here, a skip tracer will then work to follow the clues until they track down the missing individual. Usually private investigators, debt collectors, and process servers are skip tracers.

What Clues Can Skip Tracers Use?

Skip tracers can use many different information sources in order to help them track down their targets. It might be that the person has run away, has gone on the run, or has otherwise been taken. Sometimes, in particularly difficult cases, skip tracers might also choose to work together as part of a team in order to help them to investigate every possible clue quickly and efficiently.

Transaction History

Skip tracers can analyze a person’s transaction history, which can help them to determine where the missing person might be based on where they have spent their money. Similarly, the information raised by a person’s transaction history can allow a skip tracer to predict which direction the individual might be traveling in, helping to narrow down the individual’s location.

Similarly to this, a person’s credit card applications can also be traced. Many people who go missing on purpose will have either applied for a new credit card just before going on the run, or may otherwise have applied for a new card in their new location. Monitoring these can help a person to be tracked down, based on the assumption that they will have stopped at some point in order to make the application.


When people go missing, oftentimes they will try to get in touch with somebody—either to help them or to just keep in touch out of a sense of loneliness. These communications can help a skip tracer to find out who the person might be in contact with, and these people can then be questioned in order to find out where the individual might be. Similarly, social media updates—including any edits that might have been made to the person’s publicly available contact details—can also be used to determine how to find the person who has gone missing.


If a person has run away with the intention of starting a new life elsewhere, they will likely try to apply for a job in their new area. Looking out for changes to the person’s employment history can help a skip tracer to determine the region in which the missing person might be living.

As well as directly trying to trace the ‘skip’ themselves—the missing person—a skip tracer may also try to track other people with whom the skip might have been in contact with. This is a process known as cross-reference skip tracing and can be used to further support the options, helping to identify where the skip has been and where they are trying to go.

Who Uses Skip Tracers?

Skip tracers and their services are used by many different people, not least of all by private investigators. Many private investigators will choose to work alongside skip tracers in order to help support a missing person case; working together, private investigators and skip tracers can collect a lot of important information about the whereabouts of a missing person, helping to track them down and—where applicable—help them to get back home.

Other people who might choose to use the services of skip tracers include debt collectors, whose debtors have gone on the run as ‘debt dodgers’ in an attempt to avoid having to pay their debts. Repossession agents will also hire skip tracers on similar terms: to help them with the reclamation and repossession of a property.

Skip tracer services are also important in tracking down an individual who has missed a court case hearing. Similarly, skip tracer services can also be helpful in finding out the current address of a family member if such information might be required during a family court hearing.

Otherwise, it is sometimes might be the case that a journalist will hire the services of a skip tracer. Skip tracers can help journalists by finding individuals who might be of interest to the public, helping to gather information on these individuals as a press scoop.