Sometimes finding a defendant goes beyond them possibly evading service. There are many times in which a skip trace is advised or requested in order to find current or more recent information on a defendant. A skip trace will produce various records of those who have the same or similar name, so identifying numbers such as a social security number or birthday helps when narrowing down results.
A skip trace can be useful when a defendant has moved around a few times in a few years or when only a work address if known. When a skip trace is requested, we are able to collect various pieces of information that includes recent addresses where the defendant could be living. A process server will use the information to attempt further contact and service upon a defendant.
It is important to be sure to give the process serving company all of the information that you may have that will always aid in finding information are personal identifiers. These include a full name, age, gender, date of birth, SSN, and the last known address. When we use a database to help search, all information won’t be used in order to make sure the search results aren’t too narrow. We may also ask for proximity identifiers, such as a family member, vehicle information, city and state of residence and an email address. While these aren’t included in the first set of information we draw from, they can also bring a wider variety of information.
We know it can be hard to have the most accurate information, but when names are misspelled or nicknames are provided instead of the full name, this can account for errors in the search results.
Social media has also become an essential part to skip tracing, as process servers and lawyers can use it to find photos and other identifying information about a defendant or client. These searches can be as simple as a quick check to verify a face or place of employment, to searching groups the defendant frequents, and monitoring how often they are online and active on social media.
This new wealth of information can help a process server to find an additional address in which to attempt service, as well as give a visual of someone they should be looking for. If you find yourself faced with the possibility of not being able to serve your defendant, make sure to ask about skip trace services. You never know what it could dig up.
The biggest mistake a skip tracer can make is trusting that the information they were provided is accurate. Don’t make assumptions!
By: Sarah Kessler