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Why You Want The Debt Collector To Find You

debt collector skip traceYou’ve changed addresses so many times you can’t remember them all.

A number of years ago I had a client in my office who’d lived in four states over a fairly lengthy period of time.

During those years, she’d gotten herself deep in debt as the household income failed to keep pace with the cost of living. The debt collector had stopped calling years ago, but recently resurfaced.

How had they found my client after so long? And if you go through the same string of relocations, will the debt collector find you?

How A Debt Collector Finds You After You Move

There’s an entire industry of collection agencies known as “skip tracers.” This debt collector specializes in finding lost people, particularly those who have changed addresses.

The debt collector can find you using the U.S. Postal Service change-of-address services but also through credit report information and a host of specialized databases. Commercial software such as Accurint (by Lexis-Nexis) and others simplify the process by allowing a debt collector to enter information and get current address information.

In addition, there are a number of free online service a debt collector can use to find someone who has changed addresses. Using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and LinkedIn, a debt collector can narrow down your location to a few square miles. Even a simple Google search can help a debt collector find you.

What If The Debt Collector Can’t Find You?

Sometimes, people simply can’t be found. The debt collector may try every possible free and paid service but come up empty-handed. That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, though.

A debt will remain due even if you can’t be found. The debt collector may file a collection lawsuit against you, serve you by publication in the newspaper or through another substitute method, and get a judgment against you for the amount they claim is due. That judgment will remain enforceable and interest will continue to add up for years.

Once you’re found, the debt collector will have you between a rock and a hard place.

Why You Want To Be Found

Most people think hiding from the debt collector is a good idea, but that’s not so.

If a debt collector can’t find you, then you won’t know how much money you owe.

You could be sued without your knowledge, in which case you won’t have the opportunity to defend the debt collection lawsuit.

Though you may be able to pay off some of your debts now, the amounts could spiral out of control if you’re not watching the balances.

The debt collector may call your friends and family members in an effort to locate you.

Don’t Hide – Stand Up And Fight

If you’ve been running, it’s time to stop. Face the debt collector, learn what they’re up to, and defend yourself. Handle the situation intelligently and you’ll likely end up in a far better financial position than if you do nothing at all.

Image credit:   San Diego Shooter

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By |January 3rd, 2013|

About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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