How Do Debt Collectors Find You?

It’s hard to hide from a debt collector. Some people think you can “lay low” and wait out the collection attempts, but in our digital age it is easy for anyone (including collection agencies) to find the information they need to get in touch with you. With nothing more than a name, collectors can use public records and other resources to find information such as phone numbers, current and past addresses, and family contacts. Listed below are a few of the ways they can track down this information.

The Creditor

When trying to find a way to get in touch with you, this is where the collection agency starts. If you think about it, when you sign up for a credit card, loan, utilities or any other type of service, the company usually takes down your name and other information such as your phone number and address. If the information provided is current and valid, it makes the collector’s job much simpler. When it is not, however, they must use other means to find you.

Credit Reports

Collectors trying to recover a debt may pull a credit report to find out more information about you and your payment history. Typically, they use this method sparingly because it comes at a cost. They also tend to be wary about adding an inquiry to your record as it may negatively impact your credit score.

Data Brokers

Whenever you sign up for something, fill out a survey or enter personal information online there is a possibility that this information is being collected by a data aggregator. These agencies gather purchase history and demographic information from consumers in order to sell it to interested parties. There is usually an option to “opt out” of these kinds of services, so pay close attention when providing your personal information online.

Government Agencies

From the Department of Motor Vehicles and postal service to your voter’s registration, collection agencies can sometimes gain access to the information you provide to government organizations in order to collect and verify your current contact information.

Public Record

With most public record information now online, it’s easier than ever for debt collectors to find your current address and phone number. Whether it be through the phonebook or your local county records office, the information they need is just a few clicks of the mouse away.

Skip Tracers

As a last resort, a collection agency may hire a skip tracer to locate a consumer. Skip tracers are a special type of investigator that use both traditional and technologically advanced search methods in order to locate someone. Their name is a reference to the term “skip town” as they are usually searching for people who have left their local area in order to avoid something (such as making a payment).

As one can see, it can be fairly difficult to avoid your debt. A good course of action is to contact your collector directly to see how they can help you. Many times they are willing to work within your means to develop a payment plan and help you get out of debt. For advice and information on how to deal with your collectors, read more here.