People use to ask me how I got into Skip-Tracing all the time. And how I even thought to get in such an industry. Well, the release of the Internet to the public back in 1994 almost did me in. I went from business-to-business Information Brokering to Skip-Tracing and Background Security Checks. In a matter of a year, many of my clientele decided that information was free and they could get it on their own with the ‘brand new’ Information Highway. Ok…
Skip-Tracing can be a great home business, but it’s a lot more than just a little online research. You might start online, but you’re not done even then. You will probably have to contact neighbors, relatives, friends, and the subject themselves, if you can find them and if they will speak with you.
We are usually hired to locate someone that either owes money and/or has a court case against them or they have a warrant for their arrest. You might also be required to locate someone that has just been missing or an adult run-a-way. You have to treat each of these different in your search strategies. You might be trying to locate witnesses of a crime so they can tell their side of the story.
There’s always the, “Can you find an old girl or boyfriend”. Which aren’t very hard but due to the privacy laws, we can only contact the subject that you’re looking for and see if they want to contact our client. You sure don’t want to help a stalker or someone even more dangerous find their pray. You would basically give your clients’ contact information to the subject and it’s up to them to contact your client. This way everybody is in agreement when the contact is made.
If you are searching for someone who is hiding from authorities, you aren’t as limited to your methods of locating the individual. These types of searches are some of the most interesting and exciting. Pretexts are used to ‘trick’ a person to get in touch with you so you can serve process or a subpoena. Basically, a pretext allows you to say you’re someone you’re not. Be careful, some of this deception is illegal in some states, always check your local laws. Pretexts can never be used if you are just trying to locate someone for your client. If there is a pending court case on an individual, then using the pretext might be your best bet. A pretext is how you can get information from relatives, friends, and neighbors, otherwise, they probably won’t talk to you at all. You just have to use your imagination, the sky isn’t the limit.
Locating property owners that have abandon a property is another faucet of Skip Tracing. This is in part, how I got into real estate investing. You locate an individual that has given up on a property and plans to just let it go into foreclosure. If you can contact the individual and offer them something on the property, they almost always say yes to your offer. Due to the fact that they were planning on walking away from it and letting the bank take it back. At least this way they won’t end up with a foreclosure on their record, and they can now buy a home later down the road when they’re ready.
You might want to search an entire county to see where all the filed foreclosures may be. This gives you an unlimited supply of possible deals. And you can assign these deals to other real estate investors, for a fee of course, usually for 8-10% of the future profits in the deal.
Some owners whom might own out-right or free-and-clear, which means they have no mortgage, are only paying taxes and insurance each year. At this point they may be able to leave the property vacant and since it’s not costing them a lot, they aren’t worry about it. Usually the property is not in a sellable condition, which hopefully only means it just needs some cosmetic fix up, or paint, cleaning, and maybe carpet. They might be happy to sell it at a good discount in as-is condition. Which can mean a nice profit for you to get it fixed up and either sell it or get it rented out depending on the location and economy at the time.
I’ve had quite a few tenants that have done damage to one of my units and just skipped out before paying the next months’ rent, it’s probably worth going after those individuals for small claims court reasons. These are usually pretty easy to locate and you can have them served by a process server. At least you might get some of your money back that they cost you in the beginning. You never get it all, sorry.
There are many different areas you can get into as a Skip-Tracer. Usually, you can find something you’re interested in and passionate about, and you’ll be able to find a good fit as a Skip-Tracer. Mine just happened to be real estate and locating those that own it, and it’s really helped me out through the years. You can make a lot of money in this business and it is very rewarding. You might not get rich, but you can live very well as a Skip-Tracer. One nice thing about being a Skip-Tracer is that when a client tries to skip out on your bill, you can and will find them.