The Hunt Is On

One of my favorite things about being a collector is skip tracing. After training and assisting other collectors on the best ways to go about skip tracing, I’ve come to believe that certain people just have an inherent knack for it. You can pull a credit bureau, obtain information from online skip tracing resources, and pore over credit applications, but it all boils down to using your head to analyze where the information is leading you. Over the years I have watched our billing office, and even our own collectors, go down paths that left me shaking my head. One thing is for certain, after so many years, I still get such a charge out of finding that customer that has tried to hide from me!

One of the skills we look for in our new hires is skip tracing experience. I recently hired a new collector who admitted that she had no skip tracing experience. She was straight out of an inbound call center and she just did not have that background however, she was eager to learn a new skill, and after only six months here she is one of the best skip tracers we’ve had (with the exception of myself of course!) I will not necessarily discount someone again just because they have never skip traced before.

The skip tracing tools at our disposal as government collectors give us a leg up on our other first and third party counterparts! Devote time to training on skip tracing procedures; make sure your staff shares ideas, links, and tools they’ve used. Where one collector missed something or followed an erroneous lead, another collector could hone right in on where they need to go and bingo…you found your debtor.

If you collect on parking tickets and you are not hooked into your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, you are missing out on a wealth of information. In Idaho, and I’ve heard in many other states now, someone renewing their driver’s license must provide their true, physical address as new licenses are mailed out, not just handed to them across the counter. Debtors will no longer be able to simply tell the DMV clerk that the current address on file is still valid even though they haven’t lived there in three years! If you collect on court fines and restitution, the amount of information in the actual files, jail booking documents, and fine agreement just doesn’t get any better. Trust me, the person they have bail them out of jail knows where they are! Take advantage of your position as a government collector to ask other government entities for access to their databases. You might have to fill out some paperwork and jump through a few hoops to obtain that access, but the benefit you’ll gain far outweighs the hassle.

We also use subscription based online “skip” vendors. I admit, we probably didn’t start utilizing these services soon enough. It was a battle to get the funding for it, but given the time it has saved us, I am not sure I can even quantify our cost savings. If you have not invested in one of these programs, you need to. Sometimes the information is outdated; there will always be those debtors that go off the grid, but most of the time it is pretty recent. When you have access to property records, relatives, bankruptcy, utilities, and criminal records, all provided in one compact report that can be saved and explored as needed, it is such an effective use of your collectors’ skip trace time.

I’ll hit on social media just briefly. Yes, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like can all be valuable sources of information. I will caution you and advise you to tread lightly when you’re attempting to use those resources. By no means should you misrepresent yourself when using any social media outlet.

Since skip tracing is such a passion for me I know I could go on and on about it, but this is a blog so I’ll cut it off here. Feel free to comment on your favorite skip tracing secrets, stories, or tools. You can also contact me if you have questions or if you would like more information or suggestions and Happy Hunting!