No Hiding Place
Here are the primary resources a collection agency uses to find people
The original creditor provides the collection agency with the information on your contact details
plus details of your bank accounts, trade references, etc. If you’ve moved, someone listed on the
application (supplier, employer, bank, credit references, or nearest living relative) may know where you are.
Collection agents often call relatives, friends, employers, or neighbours, posing as a friend or relative.
Phone directories, printed or online, are good sources of names, addresses, and phone numbers.
If a collection agency has your phone number, it may be able to find your address using a reverse directory.
A reverse directory lists telephone numbers in numeric order, rather than by name.
The agency may check the post offce for a forwarding address. Also, major credit bureaux
with their own collection agencies receive change-of-address information
Although this process is more complicated, an agency collector may be able to find you
through the electric or phone company, especially if you are still in the same service area.
Even if you move away, the company may have your new address as a place to send your final bill.
A collection agency will have access to all kinds of information, such as your address,
phone number and credit history. Even if it isn’t part of a credit bureau, for a small fee the collector
can place your name on a credit bureau locate list. If you apply for credit - even if you’ve
moved hundreds or thousands of miles from where you previously lived - your name could be
forwarded to the collection agency.
Data aggregators gather and sell information on millions of people from public records, surveys,
purchase data, and demographic data. Much of this information is now available online.
You can find anything from aircraft owners to high school classmates online. Even clubs,
churches, and PTAs put their newsletters online now, so your affliations could show up in an
Internet search. Then the organization might innocently help the collection agency find you.
Creditors and collectors use skip tracers to locate people. Skip tracers locate people using
traditional and high-tech techniques, such as telephone books, email address finders,
Social Security number searches, telephone company call records, public records, domain
name lookups, military and Selective Service lookups, prison inmate lookups, professional
license lookups, apartment locators, hotel/motel locators, business and corporate records,
hunting and fishing licenses, and even eBay seller searches.
Pretexters get people’s personal information using false pretenses. A pretexter might call
you and say he’s from a survey firm. He might ask you some questions to elicit basic
personal information. When the pretexter has enough information, he calls your financial
institution and pretends to be you or someone who is authorized to access your account.
He gets more personal information from the bank.
Default on your credit card, loan, or even your monthly Internet or utility payments and
your account will likely be sent to a collection agency. These third-party companies are hired
by original creditors to pursue unpaid debts.
You’re still liable for your bill, but many people just don’t want to pay collection agencies,
perhaps because there’s no immediate benefit for paying off the debt. Before you decide
not to pay off a collection, make sure you know the consequences of ditching the
Paying a collection isn't the most exciting thing to do with your money,
but there are some benefits to paying. For one, you get the collectors off your back.
And, a paid collection looks better on your credit report than an unpaid one. If the collection is
legitimately yours, it's typically better, in the long run, to pay it and be done with it.