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By Jason Russell

Ten years ago I was living in Iowa. At that time I had a wife, two kids, and a heck of a lot of bills. I was doing investigations for a one man law firm and holding my own. Two unexpected things changed everything quickly. One, my wife developed an unexpected condition known as ‘a third pregnancy’. The second unexpected thing that happened was my attorney boss dropped dead suddenly. I’m a good investigator but during ’95 in Iowa everybody seemed to be putting their money into the bubble or new combines and not into hiring private investigators. Besides, Netscape went public that year and their browser was making the internet available to everybody from kids to ‘old’ folks. Lawyers it seemed were buying a lot of the information they needed directly from information brokers. I did subpoena service work and that kept food on the table and calcium tablets in my gestating wife. Needless to say, I reeled from this double whammy and it wasn’t long before I was behind on my bills.

 To make a long story short, I eventually went back to work full-time and caught up on my past dues. The way I see it, a little rain has to fall into every life. The point of my story is that 10 years ago I didn’t know what or where I would be doing today. If I were to skip out of my creditors today, it would be safe to say in most cases that I didn’t plan on it 10 years ago. When we’re trying to find someone who has “skipped”, we try to put together a background history and a timeline. Stuff like where they were born, where they grew up, where they went to school, where they were married and to who, where they lived or worked etc.

Each of us leaves a ‘paper trail’. Follow that paper trail backwards and make note of the names of people and places associated with those documents and you will almost certainly at some point find who you are looking for. In the great majority of cases, it becomes a simple matter of how much time and money you want spend to find somebody. The one fact that helps us the most in skip tracing is that if someone wants to disappear (Not Jimmy Hoffa style) and start a ‘new’ life, they must abandon everything in their ‘old’ life. Everything means everything- family, immovable wealth, habits, favorite doctors, dentists, lifestyles, etc. If you can think of anything that comes into or out of your life (from magazine subscriptions, pizza delivery, library cards to fishing licenses or funerals and everything in between) than in order to abandon your old life you would have to abandon it. Only a very few individuals can do what’s necessary to stay hidden. When people step back into their life, if they are wanted bad enough, they will be caught by either a vigilant PI or “damn the cost” law enforcement. Think of your paper trail. Is somebody looking for you ten years from now? 

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