Hiding from debt collectors was a lot easier back in the 1960s and 70s. It took so long to search public information that you could stay one step ahead of even the most industrious investigators. This is no longer the case. You can run, but you cannot hide forever. Sooner or later, a debt collector is going to find you.
How do debt collectors do it? How do they get their hands on your personal information even though you have tried to conceal it? Let us just say they have ways of doing what they do. All their methods are encapsulated in an industry tool known as skip tracing.
Skip tracing involves searching an extensive list of public and private databases. Much of it is automated these days, thanks to computer algorithms and powerful hardware. Collection agencies like Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors also utilize paid services that handle much of the database information for them. They simply buy the information they need.
● Publicly Available Information
There is lots of publicly available information online thanks to the internet age. For starters, social media is a veritable gold mine. The fact is that people are just careless about what they post online. Even the most successful debt evaders seem to be unnecessarily reckless with their social media profiles. The good news for debt collectors is that artificially intelligent software can continuously scour social media channels to find even the slightest connections to the people they are hunting for.
In addition to social media, other public information can yield results:
- Property Records – Counties normally post property sales online within 30 to 90 days of closing. If you recently bought a house, go take a look at your county’s website. Chances are the transaction has been published.
- Arrest Records – Police departments keep records of all arrests. Though this information is not necessarily available online, it can be obtained just by going to the local police department.
- Court Records – County, state, and federal courts publish court records as public information. Not all court records are available online, but many are.
There are other public resources that skilled investigators can look at. But there are also private databases as well. These are databases that collection agencies may have to pay to get access to. But again, they are a treasure trove of information.
● Information from Private Resources
Private information must be kept private by law. However, there are exceptions. In the case of a court judgment, a collection agency may pay for motor vehicle information. State laws allow motor vehicle departments to sell that information for legitimate debt collection purposes. However, doing so is usually reserved for judgments rather than general debt.
Other private data includes:
- Marketing Data – Marketers collect all sorts of information on consumers. That information is freely bought and sold throughout the business world. And just like a marketer can buy your information along with that of tens of thousands of others, so can a debt collector.
- Tax Data – Federal and state taxing authorities cannot release your personal information on their own. But they can provide that data to collection agencies in the event of a court-ordered judgment. Tax records are one of the best sources of private information an investigator can get their hands on.
From social media to property transactions and tax records, debt collectors have access to tons of data. They use that data to track down debtors. Learn a lesson – if you owe debts that have gone to collection, you will not be able to hide forever. They will find you at some point.