Condo/HOA Collections 101: Skip Tracing

What is Skip Tracing?

Skip Tracing is a term used by collection agencies (and other entities) to locate a person and obtain their contact information. It is the first step in the collections process. It is important to know where a debtor may be found. Once a debtor is located they can be engaged to discuss how they may resolve their debt.

Why is it Called Skip Tracing?

The term skip tracing is almost self-explanatory. A “skip” is a person who has moved and does not want to be located. In the collections industry, it is usually a debtor but in law enforcement, it can be a criminal who is on the “lam.”

In the case of community association collections, this is usually not the case because it’s is difficult to pack up a house or a condo into a suitcase and skip town. So even if it does not fit this particular industry the term “skip” refers to the subject debtor.

How Skip Tracing Helps the Collections Process

Tracing is the process by which the information on an individual is collected and used for the purpose of monetary recovery. There are many ways to trace the location of an individual especially in this “age of information.”

Is Skip Tracing Necessary for Community Association Collections?

Skip Tracing is very necessary in the collections process for community associations as an individual may own a property at one location but may not live there. If a debt is owed to a condo or HOA the “skip” or owner needs to be located so that actions can be taken to resolve their debt to the community association.

A skip trace is just the starting point for community association collections of unpaid assessments. When a property owner does not pay their condo or HOA fees and the file is given to a collection agency a skip trace is performed and the file is opened.

What are the Techniques Used in Skip Tracing?

The skip tracing process begins in much the same way as you might find out about someone – a search on the Internet. We look in other obvious places, such as credit reports and the legal system.

Other techniques used include looking through the property appraiser’s site to see if the person submitted actually owns the property that owes the debt. Then it is not uncommon to look into the court records to see who holds their mortgage or if there are any liens on the property. The more you know the likelihood of the recovery of your HOA debt is higher.

What Information Does Skip Tracing Reveal?

The information that is found in a typical skip trace can be voluminous. Some examples of what can be found in a skip trace are phone numbers, emails, telephone numbers, credit reports, bankruptcy information, probate information, assets, social security numbers, names of previous residences, criminal history, tax information, and liens.

Who can Perform Skip Tracing?

To be sure, a skip trace reveals a lot of information and a proper skip trace can only be done with a warrant, or by licensed entities such as collection agencies. If you want the debtors (delinquent unit owners in your community association) to pay, you need to know where they stay. You cannot do a comprehensive skip trace on a person without a good reason and for the purpose of debt collection in HOAs and Condos it is very much allowed.

What Comes After the Skip Trace in Community Association Collections?

After the skip trace is completed the collections team can then work towards the recovery of HOA and Condo debts. Other processes involved are outbound calls, demand notices (which must be FDCPA compliant), the filing of a lien, notification of the delinquent debt to the mortgage holder as per the condo or PUD rider.

Want to Know More?

More about the collections process will be revealed in this series on how collections are done in community associations to sustain the cash flow for your condo or HOA.

How To Collect Assessment Debt for your Community Association

If you want to learn more about how you can move the needle on your collections in your HOA or Condo please contact Axela Technologies for our Free Collections Analysis. We will recover your money at no cost and no risk and do it very quickly. Avoid special assessments and maintenance fee increases and let Axela Technologies get you paid.

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