Once upon a time a person could vanish without a trace. They could erase their history, move on to a new place, and forget their debt and crimes. No longer. With enough time and skill, anyone can be tracked down. They can’t hide anymore.

Skip tracing is the art of tracking those who don’t want to be tracked. At its core is a proficiency for collecting and sorting information. Finding sources, whether they be family members who might know where the person has gone, friends who have a phone number, or even a website that lists their new address, is important.

But often, the hardest part of a skip trace is finding that first crucial clue. Even the most powerful skip tracing technique is useless if your search is directionless.

That is where an investigative database comes in. These databases provide a crucial service: digging through hundreds of thousands of digitized records looking for related information. A good investigative database can provide you information on any family the skip might have, their email addresses, their full SSN, unpublished phone numbers, etc. Basically, an investigative database gives your skip trace a solid base to work off of.

Databases often give you valuable information on known associates, including roommates or significant others. Another great tool for tracking someone down is by a phone number. If you can find a phone number, that’s great, most databases have what is known as a “reverse lookup” that can provide information including account holder, phone carrier and address. Most databases can give you information on published and non-published landlines as well as information on cell phone numbers. Email addresses can work well also, although they are usually used as a last resort. If you can get a copy of an email from that address, you’ll likely have the IP address that person is using. Reversing that will give you the region it came from.

While your trace should start at an investigative database, you usually won’t find all that you need there. You’ll still need to employ your favorite skip tracing techniques to nail down the address.

Remember that the best skip tracing techniques are specific. For example, a worker in a unionized industry probably joined the union at his new address. By checking in with the local union representative, you could quickly wrap up the case. It’s these tricks of the trade that make an investigator, a good one.

No matter whether you prefer psychological manipulation or digital forensics, the best place to start a skip trace is at an investigative database. You might be surprised how much information is available in the system.

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