Lending or loaning money is a tricky business. The moment you hand over the cash, you can only trust that the person you’ve given it to will pay you back. This goes for any type of loan, individual, business or otherwise. Signing a contract outlining the details of the loan including, repayment schedule is often the best way to set up an agreement. However, this doesn’t always mean that the person signing will stick around and make those payments. Debtors go missing all the time, and it often takes a private investigator to find them and get the money back.
Searching for a Missing Debtor
When a debtor goes missing, there isn’t really a clear path to action. The major problem is, that debtor still owes money. If a business or individual doesn’t get that money, it can sometimes lead to an unpaid mortgage or for businesses, bankruptcy.
Many people send debt collectors after the debtor. Debt collectors will do their best to contact the individual using last known phone numbers and address information. The problem is, when a debtor goes missing, debt collectors can’t reach them at their last known address or phone number.
In Ontario, there are many laws that limit what a debt collector can do. For example a debt collector cannot:
- Go to the debtor’s workplace
- Harass the debtor
- Arrest the debtor
- Call the debtor at all hours
What a debt collector can do is inform the debtor he or she needs to make a payment, or even sue. However, if the debtor is missing, the debt collector can’t pursue either of these actions.
So, what does this mean for the person or business that just wants their money back? Is it even possible to find the missing debtor?
Private Investigators and Skip Tracing
Locating a missing debtor isn’t easy. When a person decides to leave town, they often leave little to no evidence of where they’re headed. This is why hiring a private investigator provides valuable help in finding a missing debtor.
In Ontario, a private investigator is a licensed individual, trained in many different skills. One of these skills includes something called, skip tracing. Skip tracing is just another word for finding a missing person. In the case of debt collection, the term refers to finding a missing debtor.
A good private investigator will take a look at what the missing debtor left behind. He or she will look at this information to try and figure out where to find the missing debtor. To find a missing debtor, a private investigator will use a variety of skills and services including,
Missing Debtor Research
The first thing a private investigator will do is collect information about the missing debtor. This information includes things like, where the missing debtor worked, where they liked to go on weekends, who they hung out with, where they lived, and more.
Research helps a private investigator to find different avenues of investigation. It’s a deeper look into the life of the missing debtor, which can reveal where he or she might have gone. Private investigators have the skills to know what to do with this information to begin to build a case and eventually find the missing debtor.
Interviews with People Close to the Missing Debtor
During the research phase, a private investigator might also interview some of the people closest to the missing debtor. People a private investigator might interview include, neighbors, coworkers, friends, family and others. Who a private investigator interviews depends on how close the person is to the missing debtor and whether or not the private investigator believes that he or she might know their location.
When it comes to interviews, a good private investigator needs to know how to approach someone. An aggressive or threatening attitude will not encourage anyone to help. In fact, that kind of behavior it will likely lead to trouble for the private investigator. Good interview techniques rely on a calm approach. People generally want to help and by asking a few of the right questions, a private investigator can usually learn what they need to know with minimal effort.
Private Investigator Databases
Private investigators have access to many different databases. These databases include a lot of details that can provide information on the missing debtor. For example, if the missing debtor owns a secret property in a difference province this is likely a good place to start the search.
It’s important for a private investigator to know what is legal and illegal during this type of search. Some private investigators go through trash to try and find bank statements. In some provinces, this is completely illegal. A good private investigator will have access to the right resources to find the missing debtor.
Surveillance on the Missing Debtor
Once a private investigator finds or suspects they know where to find the missing debtor, he or she will set up surveillance.
Surveillance is a technique in which the private investigator watches a person as they go about their day to day routine. When it comes to surveillance on a missing debtor or skip tracing, the private investigator needs to first confirm that he or she has found the right person. After all, a credit collector cannot pin a debt on an individual who doesn’t owe the money.
A private investigator will often run surveillance from their car. They will park their vehicle near to the missing debtor’s new home. If the missing debtor leaves, the private investigator will follow to see what he or she is up to during the day or night. If the missing debtor is living in a hotel, the private investigator might get a room. They will then hang out in the lobby or a nearby area and observe and follow the missing debtor as they go about their business.
Once the private investigator finds the missing debtor, he or she will put together a report. The report will include information like, new address and new job, as well as any other details of interest. The private investigator will then pass this information along to the debt collector or to the individual or business that hired him or her.
Once a private investigator locates the missing debtor and passes along the information his or her job is done. It is up to the debt collector to begin contacting the missing debtor for what’s owed. Alternatively, it’s up to the business or individual to take the next steps.
A private investigator’s primary job is to present the facts. Once they find a missing debtor, their job is done, and done well! Finding a missing debtor gives the client peace of mind, and the ability to take action—something that without a private investigator’s help, would prove to be much more challenging.