Merica & Associates

People locate and skip trace investigation

People locate and skip trace investigation

Originally published on***

What is a People Locate / Skip Trace? A skip trace is an investigative technique that finds an individual, usually one who has skipped out on a legal or financial obligation though it is not limited to those matters. People locate and skip trace investigations commonly accomplish things like tracking down defendants who have missed court appearances or skipped bail, locating individuals who need to be served with legal documents, or tracking down a person on behalf of a debtor.

Why you need a people locate or skip trace:

  • You need to locate a debtor who has defaulted on payments
  • You need to find a current address for a family member requiring family court documents (i.e. child support, divorce)
  • Your client is a defendant in a court case and missed a hearing.
  • You need to locate an individual to inform them about assets or an inheritance.

What is involved in a people locate / skip trace investigation? After gathering pertinent information and clear goals from the client, an investigator will employ these tactics in order to locate the individual:

  • Records research: When searching for important documents, investigators will use databases, courthouses, libraries, public service locations that house records, and even the United States Post Office. The kinds of records they look for could include marital, court, business, and financial. The validity of these records is also something they verify.
  • Surveillance: Surveillance is often employed to understand the individual, including their habits, schedules, and the locations in which they live, work, and socialize.
  • Background investigation: Dependent upon the case itself, an investigator may conduct a background investigation to better understand the individual. This can include interviews with family members, friends, and former colleagues, and looking into criminal records.

Who can conduct a people locate / skip trace? Each state has its own regulations and licensing requirements when it comes to looking into a person’s location and attempting to find them. This is why most individuals will work with an attorney or directly with a private investigator.

Many people assume law enforcement agencies take care of locating individuals, but the truth is that these agencies have more pressing matters of public safety that require their full focus.

Online people locater websites A word of caution: While these sites appear to be an easy way to get information, it may not be the information you’re looking for. If you want accurate and verified information that you are authorized to share and use in legal matters, you will need a private investigator. Online sites openly state that the information may be inaccurate and/or incomplete, that an individual can have their information removed from the site, and that the records may be unclear or confusing.


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