Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tools of a Skip Tracer

Would you go to a dentist if the only tools she used are a chainsaw and a stick? Would you take your car to be serviced by a mechanic whose only tools were a chocolate bar and hairspray? Would you want to your child to go to an elementary school that only taught from a set of 1964 encyclopedias?
Do you see the connection?
It is simple- really. Every industry has tools that can be specific to that industry. The dentist would never use a chainsaw (even though it may feel like it). They use tools that are designed and that are necessary for the successful completion of their task- to assist with proper dental hygiene. The same holds true for ever other profession and industry. At the same time, to take tools that may not be useful to an industry can slow down the process.
So here comes the question. Why is it that those that skip trace do not utilize the tools that are available to our profession or we try to use the tools of other professions to do our job?
What are the tools available to the skip trace industry? You've heard me talk about some of them. Databases, each other and our minds. But, what are some other tools available to us? Below is a list. I'm not calling it a complete list, because we think out side of the box and have incredible imaginations, so the list will never be completed. Not all of these will apply to your needs, but maybe it will spark some ideas and you can add to the list.
Have caller ID setup on ALL incoming calls. When you ask for a debtor for their number, is it matching up with the number they are calling from? If possible, through you phone provider have a report available to you per day of all received calls (just incase you miss it and they don't leave a message). Any numbers that you do not recognize reverse that number and see what you get.
Most of us already use these. They can be very useful for obtaining additional information on your debtor or those around them.  There are several more available, do some research and see which best suites your needs.
These websites have gathered tons of links to public record sites. Most of them
separate the information by state.
On these websites you enter various information of the debtor, public records and
other websites are searched and the results are provided in a quick easy to
understand format. . These really speed up the investigation process.
This is where I daydream about a database that you can enter the information for two different people at the same time. Then with the same process of the other databases information is researched on both subjects then is compared for anything that is the same and that information is returned to the user. This way you can determine if there is a spouse or roommate or significant other. The reason that I daydream is because to my knowledge no such database exist at this time. However, if it does PLEASE let me know.
Whatever you call it. A worksheet, a checklist or a form. This is what the investigator uses to make sure that every stone has been turned, every nook and cranny (what's a cranny?) has been checked for information to help locate the debtor.
This provides another option to reach out a touch the debtor. By sending a letter with PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED printed on the envelope is an easy way to get determine if the debtor has moved and left a forwarding address. The downside to sending a letter is the turn around time.
There are two different approaches direct and indirect. Direct is determining the information that you need contact the people that have that information and ask them for it. Indirect is also called pretext or social engineering. Determine what information that you need then develop a story, contact the people that have that information and present your story so that they will give you the information that you need. Sometimes pretexting is illegal; please make sure you know both the federal and your state laws that apply.
This is a service provide by various telephone companies. When someone calls a trap line the number is captured. It does not matter if it is non published or published you will get a report of all numbers. You can setup a standard toll free number to do this but it takes up to 30 days to get results.
This is a phone line that is simple answered as "hello". It is not answered with the company name or with the professionalism of the company. It is answered in the same way that you would you home phone.
There are companies that can be used or phone systems that can be purchased allowing the user to change their outgoing Caller ID information.
Collections and skip tracing need to be physically separated. It helps with the mindset of the skip tracer as well as not allowing the other party to hear a demand for payment in the background.
A spider web works because there are many strands connected. If your debtor is running from you they are probably running from someone else. We need to work together.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. Skip tracing is a game of hide and seek. The debtor is hiding you are seeking, it's that simple.
A skip tracer MUST stay up to date with laws, procedures and resources to be the best that they can. About a once a year seminar that includes laws, processes, skill sets and resources with the ability to network should do the trick.
We have the skills. We have the resources. We have the tools. Lets show the rest of the world how the professionals do it!
Oh, if you come up with some more to add to the list-please send a copy my way.