Skip tracing is the process of tracking down individuals who failed to perform a duty, i.e., pay debts or respond to a court summons, and may “skip town” (and therefore need “tracing”). Banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, luxury retailers, and law firms are the entities that commonly do skip tracing.
Skip tracing skills are also crucial to the service of process. A civil case filed in court can only move forward if the respondents or defendants are served with copies of the court summons and lawsuit. There are rules surrounding the execution of the service of process (and any violation can lead to a dismissal without prejudice), but before plaintiffs can even worry about them, they must first find the people against whom they’re filing a complaint.
Why Is Skip Tracing Necessary?
Professional process servers in New York City are expected to be skilled skip tracers. Tracking individuals is part of the job description, and it is often where process servers need to do the most work. It might just be a part of the service of process, but there’s a lot of work and resources that goes into skip tracing.
Under normal circumstances, defendants and respondents to a case can be easily tracked because the plaintiffs already have their basic information, including their work and home addresses. It would then be a simple matter of handing the papers to the intended recipient (Personal Delivery) or someone who lives or works with the recipient and can be trusted to give the papers (Substituted Delivery). Process servers may also leave the documents where the defendant is sure to find them (Conspicuous Service).
Unfortunately, not all cases are this simple.
Process servers develop sleuthing skills and learn to find patterns where there are meant to be none when defendants are willfully avoiding getting served.
They would use any accessible means to do background checks:
- Social media – Find active accounts and check the recipients’ updates or mentions from their contacts.
- Public records – Find contact information on university websites, corporate websites, and e-calling cards.
- Property records – Find the most recent contact information from the county recorder’s office.
- Investigate – Ask questions from the defendants’ colleagues, neighbors, and housemates.
Government Records Search
There are also cases in which the defendants or respondents don’t have any intention to hide; they’re simply no longer living or working where the plaintiff last knew them to be.
The latest data from the United States Census Bureau shows that 9.8% of Americans (over 32 million people) changed residences within a year. People move where there is affordable housing and work opportunity, or when driven by personal and family matters.
As for career changes, a Gallup poll revealed that most Americans don’t retire until they are 66 years old. If we consider the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which says the highest median job tenure is 6.4 years (for employees in management occupations), we can say that many Americans change jobs five to eight times in one lifetime.
It would be difficult for the average citizen to keep track of these changes using only the basic tools for background checking. Yes, the public can request information about an individual from the DMV (one of the best sources of current contact information) and local post offices, but both can take time. Additionally, requests for a DMV search comes with a fee.
Professional process servers have an advantage: their requests for information are recognized as “permissible use” under the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). The tenured ones will have built relationships with the DMV and post office, as well, so they can get information at a fraction of the time for standard requests.
Skip Tracing by Serve Index LLC
As an experienced company that offers professional service of process, Serve Index LLC offers exceptional skip tracing services, including NYS DMV Address Verification and Post Office address confirmation. Our services cover New York’s five boroughs (the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) and Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Our previous clients can attest to the skills and efficiency of our skip tracers: we always aim to serve legal documents within the required period of service for Summons and Petitions and other legal documents.
With our skip tracing expertise and flawless service of process, you can bring your case to court quickly.
Get in touch with Serve Index LLC today.