Debt collectors can use many methods to find out where you live. However, they may not always know exactly where you live — especially if you’ve moved since defaulting on your loan with the original creditor.
Collection agencies can use any of the following methods to find people.
- Banks: Your current or former bank may provide your address to a collection agency.
- Contacts: Collection agents will often call your references listed on your original credit application to try to track you down.
- Credit bureaus: The collection agency will have access to a lot of information if it is associated with a credit-reporting agency. If it isn’t a part of a credit bureau, the collection agent can place your name on a credit bureau locate list that will forward your name to the collection agency if you attempt to apply for credit.
- Data aggregators: data aggregators gather and sell information, and much of it is now available online.
- Internet searches: Organizations where you’re involved (churches, class reunions, PTAs, etc.) put a lot of information online, which might help collection agencies find you after using a simple internet search.
- Original credit application: The original creditor will provide the collection agency with the information from your credit application.
- Phone books: Online or print phone directories are good sources of names, addresses, and phone numbers. Collection agents may also use a reverse directory to find your address using your telephone number.
- Post office: Agents may check the post office for a forwarding address if you’ve moved. Credit bureaus receive monthly, change of address updates from the U.S. Postal Service.
- Pretexters: Pretexters often obtain personal information illegally or by using false pretenses, such as pretending to be you to obtain personal information.
- Skip tracers: a skip tracer is a professional who locates a person who can’t be found at their residence or usual hangouts. Spic tracers use any number of resources and databases to find a person who has defaulted on a debt.
- State motor vehicle department: Depending on your state laws, collection agencies can use the state motor vehicle database to verify your address.
- Utility company: A collection agent may be able to find you through a utility company, but the process is difficult.
- Voter registration records: If you’ve registered to vote after a move, the registrar will have your address or forwarded cancellation information from your new county.
While it may seem like a debt collection agency will use any means to find you, there are some things they cannot do. Click here to see 15 things debt collectors can’t do.