Many people assume that law-enforcement agencies are responsible for locating missing persons responsible for financial and legal obligations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many law-enforcement agencies are overwhelmed with their workload and are unable to conduct potentially time consuming skip tracing investigations. If you want a debtor or criminal located, you may have to hire a qualified private investigator to help you trace the skip.

Skip tracing is the process of locating a person’s whereabouts for any number of reasons. A skip tracer is the person who performs the task of locating the person of interest. The term “skip” refers to the person of interest, and is derived from the expression “to skip town”. When someone “skips town” they typically depart in a rush, leaving little evidence behind to “trace” them to their current location. Skip tracing is performed by collecting and analyzing as much information as possible about the person of interest. Skip tracers must utilize legal and legitimate research techniques, including assessing public records and interviewing individuals connected to the person of interest. Locating a skip trace can be a difficult and a time consuming endeavor.

Skip tracing is primarily employed to locate people who have skipped out on their financial or legal obligations. Skip tracing can help recover money owed or help ensure that a criminal is returned to court. Skip tracing tactics may be utilized by private investigators, debt collectors, process servers, bail bond enforcers, attorneys, and police detectives or any person attempting to locate the person of interest.

As skip trace investigations are complicated by their nature and vary considerably from case to case. A private investigator typically charges by the hour for most skip tracing cases as the time spent on each investigation varies. While one case may take 5 minutes another case may take 5 months to successfully complete. However, this can come at a great expense for the paying client. On the other hand, one arrangement is better suited. Pennington & Associates charges a flat rate for all skip traces. In this arrangement, if the skip is not located then the client owes nothing. Only if the skip is located does the client receive a bill. Time spent on the investigation does not impact the cost because the investigation is set at a flat rate and only charged if the investigation is successful.

Only once a case has been thoroughly discussed between the private investigator and their potential client, and deemed legally possible to solve, should a case be accepted. Skip tracing investigations may include video surveillance, interviewing individuals connected to the person of interest, travel time, court appearance and reporting investigation findings. A private investigator should provide their clients with regular detailed reports and copies of any receipts.

A contract should also be drafted and signed by both parties, stipulating that the payment for the investigation is contingent on the success of locating the skip trace. This type of contract is known as a “no fee engagement”. This protects the client from padded and fraudulent charges and further incentivizes the private investigator to locate the person of interest. The contract should also address the scope of the engagement, hourly rates, expenses, the maximum amount authorized by the client and the terms of compensation.

Skip tracing investigations can be complicated and time consuming endeavors. While we would like to rely on law-enforcement officials to track down and apprehend the parties responsible for legal and financial damages, in truth, they may not have the time and resources. Qualified private investigators can help bridge this gap. Private investigators can use professional tools and techniques that will aid in and hopefully successfully conclude your search.