Saturday, November 19, 2011

How Debt Collectors Find You

You've been very careful hiding from debt collectors. You moved to a new home, changed your telephone number and even switched banks. Unfortunately, doing all of these things isn't always enough to throw a collection agency and its skip tracers off your trail. Here are just a few of the methods that debt collectors use to find you:

The Post Office

If you moved recently, you may have filled out a change of address form with the post office. The post office uses your forwarding address form to reroute any mail sent to your old address to your new address. Even if you did not provide collection agencies with your forwarding address, the post office will provide a debt collector with that information upon request.

Credit Reports

Because you owe collection agencies money, they have permissible purpose under the FCRA to pull and review your credit report. As soon as you notify your current creditors of your change of address, those creditors report the new address to the credit bureaus. Your new address then appears on your credit report and debt collectors can use the information to contact you.

Skip Tracing

Collection agencies often employ skip tracers. A skip tracer is a form of private detective that helps collection agencies locate debtors who have "skipped" out on their debts. Skip tracers review public records, such as marriage certificates and property records to find out everything from your current contact information to your Social Security number. In certain states, skip tracers and debt collectors alike can even search the DMV's records for information about your whereabouts.

Social Networks

Think your information is safe on Facebook or Google Plus? Think again. Even if you set your social networking profile to "private," individuals viewing your profile can still see your location. If the person viewing your profile is a debt collector, he or she can use your city and state as a starting point for tracking you down.

Your Relatives

Collection agencies can obtain the names of your family members through the "next of kin" information on your credit applications, through your social networking profile, or through the good old fashioned phone book. While a debt collector cannot give your family members any information about your debt,  the collector can contact your family members in order to obtain your telephone number or address. Federal law restricts collectors to only contacting a given family member once unless the company has cause to believe the individual purposely lied to help you hide from your debt.


  1. How can I stop the Post Office from giving out my home address?"

  2. From what I can gather, the system doesn't work like that. A creditor cannot contact the post office and demand your address because the system isn't set up to allow postal employees to merely look up a name in their computer and find the address (you'd think it would be, but its not). If you do not fill out a forwarding card, it will be more difficult for collectors to find you.

    Keep in mind that updating your address with any of your current creditors automatically updates your address on your credit report. Because the collection agency is a creditor, they have the right to review your credit records whenever they wish and will get the address that way.

  3. Recovery of amount always sound good when we need to follow the rules & regulations of federal gov.Every state has its own prescription of these debt recovery services.Collection company are wortwhile to be chosen when time is running fast and debtor is not paying back.

  4. Hi Lee! Thanks for such an interesting piece of information. The points pointed out are really worthy and especially the Skip Tracing thing. Though I’m in the sector for now around 6 years but never heard of something like this and didn't even aware of the skip tracer. Thanks for that! This post might be a good one for the retired folks who are only thriving on their Social Security benefits and always at risk to lose all their remaining assets to these brutes!

  5. Very interesting information, i am waiting for more.. Debt Collection Singapore