Skip Trace Investigations

In basic terms, skip tracing (or skip locating) is the act of finding someone who has left (or “skipped”) town. In a skip tracing case the person being located (known as the person of interest, or POI) doesn't wish to be found. This is an important point of distinction. Often, the purposes of these cases is debt collection – a person of interested has “skipped town” to avoid their debt.


In these cases, a private investigator will attempt to locate the person of interest’s contact details, current address, and even location in real-time.  The POI in these cases are usually wanted by someone else to repay a debt, or because they are needed for a legal proceeding of some kind. Examples of skip trace subjects include:

  • Important witnesses for attorneys

  • Missing heirs to estates

  • Subjects of legal proceedings who need to be served with process papers

  • Defendants or an attorney’s client who has failed to appear for a court date

  • People who have skipped bail

  • Debtors who have defaulted

  • Customers or clients who have failed to pay a business for services rendered


These cases require a lot of research and, depending on the case, a moderate amount of legwork. An investigator will be looking for a current address, but if they have no luck, they'll start looking for any and all information related to the POI that might help them. This could include everything from previous known addresses, to where they work and what car they own. Finally, they'll hit the pavement and confirm the whereabouts of the POI. To accomplish all this, an investigator will use resources and tactics like:

  • Investigator databases which allow them to find phone numbers, addresses, vehicle movements, and much more.

  • Open source intelligence methods including deep web research, social media analysis, and other online resources.

  • Public records like property tax documents, court records, and more.

  • Interviews with known associates, colleagues, and neighbors.

  • Surveillance of places they suspect that the POI might live or visit.

  • Canvassing of neighborhoods where the POI might be.

Some cases will require out-of-the-box thinking, so this list is by no means exhaustive.That’s what skip trace and locate investigations are all about. Locating a particular person requires a specific set of skills, skills that are developed over a long career and many years of experience. T.J. Ward & Associates is proud to offer skip tracing to anyone who needs a missing person recovered quickly.


"What is right will always eventually triumph."         

                  -Ronald Reagan