8 Free Skip Tracing Tools to Help with Debt Collection
Hi, my name is Adam Stewart, Debt Collection Expert and owner of Debt Recoveries Australia.
My very first role in debt collection was at a large collection agency, back in about 2002. We were asked to collect as much as we possibly could. However, there was no actual skip trace training and limited access to the Internet. In fact I didn’t even know what skip tracing was back then. So I just did the best I could at the time.
My next role was in insurance claims and since I now had a taste for collections, I started doing all the insurance claims recoveries for my team.
This is where my passion for skip tracing and debt collection began. I found, with full access to the internet and a telephone, that I was actually pretty good at finding missing people. It was like a jigsaw and you just had to put the pieces together and come up with the full picture. I did an investigator’s course and learned more about skip-tracing. I found out a lot of information was freely available, even though I did use some paid databases, such as the good old Marketing Pro (reverse phone directory).
Skip (pun intended) forward 13 years and I reckon there is more free information now than ever before on the Internet. Despite the stringent privacy laws and crackdowns on databases over the last 10 years, I reckon there is more freely available information now than back in 2002, since most individuals, businesses, companies and some government departments now store their data online and some of it is pretty easy to access.
So for what it’s worth, here are our eight free skip tracing tools that we use for debt collection. You may know most of them, but these tips would have been valuable to me when I was starting out in debt collection, so I am happy to pass them onto any newbies that are just starting out in investigations or debt collection.
There may be some compliance issues associated with some of these offshore or dot com websites that are available and providing information. I have listed them, too, but please use at your own discretion. I am not recommending these sites, simply providing the information to you on what is available, so please make up your own mind if you will use these sites.
1. Search Engines
Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing should be one of the first tools you use to find a person, as their results can be filtered by date to reveal only the latest information posted online.
Some hints to keep in mind:
- Don’t just type in the debtor’s name.
- Try also typing in their mobile number, with and without the spaces.
- Try typing in their registration, if you have it.
- Don’t forget the old standard- you can add inverted commas to force Google to search for an exact phrase. You can also make Google search for ALL the words – without using inverted commas. If you use the term ‘allintext’, Google will ONLY return results with all your search terms, but without forcing Google to find them in order, as happens when you use inverted commas. For instance, Google ‘allintext: Debt Recoveries Australia awesome debt collector’ and your results will only show pages with all of these words in them (apart from the ads of course!)
- If you want to search only a certain type of file such as pdf- type filetype:pdf before your search term. Additionally, searching within a specific site, type in site: “domain” then the search term you are looking for. E.g. site:debtrecoveries.com.au adam stewart