The Challenge of Locating Missing Individuals
Whether you’re searching for a missing person, a potential witness, or someone elusive who needs to be served legal documents, the art of skip tracing comes into play. In a digital age dominated by Google searches and online databases, the task may seem straightforward, but effective skip tracing requires a more nuanced approach. This blog post delves into the techniques and strategies for successfully locating individuals who may be operating under assumed names or attempting to stay off the grid.
Beyond Google: Rethinking Skip Tracing Strategies
While Google and online databases can be starting points, they shouldn’t be the sole reliance for skip tracing. In the investigative profession, there are advanced databases like Lexus Nexus, TLO, and Clear, but these tools have limitations. To truly master skip tracing, one needs to go beyond these tools and engage in old-fashioned legwork, involving meticulous research and cross-referencing.
Taking the Initiative: The Power of Registered Letters
One effective method is to start with sending a registered letter to the last known address. If the person is present, they’ll receive it. If not, it may be forwarded. In cases where the letter is returned, it could bear notations indicating a change of address, providing valuable feedback on the individual’s whereabouts.
City Directories and Telephone Directories: Unveiling Updated Information
City and telephone directories often contain updated phone numbers, addresses, or even email addresses. However, the key is not to stop at the first find. Cross-referencing this information, Googling phone numbers, or searching email addresses may yield additional details and locations.
Interviews and Canvasing: Gathering Insights from People
Engaging with people who have connections to the individual’s past or known locations can be invaluable. Interviewing property managers, colleagues, or even checking with prior employers on LinkedIn might uncover leads. Even a casual conversation with someone in the community can provide unexpected information.
Veteran Resources and Specialized Organizations: Tapping into Networks
For veterans, reaching out to veteran resources in the area might lead to valuable information. Specialized organizations may have insights into a person’s current location or connections. A case in point is a scenario where a homeless individual, also a veteran, was traced through resources available to former military personnel.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests: A Legal Avenue
Filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can provide the address where a vehicle is registered. Even if a person is off the grid, many individuals still have registered vehicles. This legal avenue involves filing the appropriate paperwork, known as the DPPA form.
Court Records, Vital Records, and Financial Records: Expanding the Search
Expanding the search to include court records, vital records (marriage, birth, death), and financial records can uncover additional information. Welfare records, police records, and even judgments or liens can be accessed through diligent research. While not easily obtainable through a simple Google search, these records offer more comprehensive insights.
Social Clubs, Athletic Clubs, and Credit Reports: Exploring Affiliations
Individuals often leave digital footprints in social clubs, athletic clubs, or even on credit reports. A membership in a club or participation in events can provide clues to their whereabouts. Credit reports, while more challenging to obtain, can reveal financial ties, locations of credit usage, and other valuable details.
A Holistic Approach to Skip Tracing
The key to successful skip tracing lies in adopting a holistic approach that combines digital tools with traditional investigative techniques. While the ease of a Google search is tempting, it lacks the depth and dimension required for a thorough skip trace. By investing time in primary records research, cross-referencing information, and engaging in thoughtful interviews, the chances of locating an individual increase significantly. Remember, skip tracing is an art that involves more than just pushing a button—it requires dedication, strategy, and a multi-dimensional perspective.