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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Skip Tracing Preparation

Skip Tracing File Review Worksheet

The purpose of this worksheet is to show you how to prepare yourself to work a skip file.

Working a queue of files means you have to know how to get in and out of files in a hurry. You need to be quick, yet thorough, in your review of an account before you work it. This step should take no more than 5 minutes, and many times the last minute or so is done when you’re dialing the collector who gave you the assignment, and then when you are waiting for them on hold, you are looking at the last things to review. The skip tracers who multi task this way have proven to be the most effective I’ve come across.

These are the things you want to review BEFORE you make a call on a new file:

1. Client
2. R/O and COX names
3. Collateral
4. Address
5. Delinquency
6. Credit Application and Contract
7. Collection notes
8. Client contact

1. Client- who is the client. Clients operate differently, so first see who the client is and then make sure you understand how they want their accounts worked.

2. Names - Look at the name of the R/O. Is it an easy name to pronounce, do they have a nick name, an American name if they are foreign? These are things you want to determine as its much easier if you know what name your subject goes by. If someone is looking for me and they ask for Johnathon Lewis, everyone they come in contact with will be suspicious. If the subject you are looking for is named Scott Reid and he goes by Scooter, you need to find that out- so when you start working the file- ask people you come in contact with, whom you feel you have their confidence and they will tell you….“Does he have a nick name or does he go by Scott?”

3. Collateral –its important to know what you are looking for. Many clients now don’t include the color of the collateral, the license plate, and some times its difficult to know what the collateral is. The other day we had an agent running an address looking for what they thought was a Honda Jet Ski. The way we received the deal, it had a code for the type of collateral and it was a motorcycle we were looking for. We told them their update said they were looking for the wrong type of collateral, and we got the bike the next night. Go to Google and look up the unit so you can see what it looks like. When you’re calling a neighbor or asking a relative if he drives a little white car, that’s better than asking of they drive a Ford Escort. When you call the client, use that opportunity to ask them if they have a plate or a color.

4. Address – compare the address from the client to what is in the public records you have access to. If a new address pops up in public records, ask them if they had that address, and if not, tell them you’ll confirm it and let them know if its worth giving to a repo agent to run. Clients have a tendency to see a new address pop up in Public or Credit records and they just assign it for repo without verifying the address. We are professionals, and were expected to verify an address as much as possible before assigning for repo, and every assignment needs to have the reason why its being assigned to that address, which you cant do without some form of verification.

5. Delinquency- Many clients don’t provide this information, and some provide bits and pieces. Some accounts are assigned before they charge off and some are assigned after they’ve charged off. These are important things to know. When you speak to the client, if they’re a client who will share this info with you, its helpful to know the following information:

Date last paid - This is important as it tells you how long ago they paid, and many times when someone stops paying, there is a reason that’s worth investigating- did the unit get wrecked? Did they give it to a 3rd party? Did they lose a job? Foreclosure?

Date past due – This tells you how long they have been delinquent. If a person is two payments down versus five payments down, that makes a huge difference in regard to how you approach the way you work the account, and what you say if you speak with them.

Amount past due – This is important if you speak with them and they ask how much do they owe. Many times these customers have not had anyone speak with them for months as they’ve been on the lamb. If you happen to get them on the phone, you may only have one chance to resolve the account, and if you don’t know how far past due they are, in exact numbers, you lose credibility.

Monthly payment amount – This is important as they may have another payment due the following day, so its good to know how much that will be.

Balance – This gives you an idea what the difference is between the amount in full they owe (with interest) versus the actual value of the car. Many times this can have an impact on the customer’s decisions regarding the loan, and the collateral.

Charge off information - When applicable, this is critical information to know. First off, if the loan hasn’t charged off yet, but is nearing charge off, the actual charge off date is important, as that is usually the last date the customer will have an opportunity to make any payments. After a loan is charged off, loan payments are normally not accepted, which means the only payment options after charge off are to pay off the full amount of the loan, including expenses, less interest. The charge off date is also important as many files will close with the skip agency when the loans charge off, so if you are close to resolving the case, it may not matter to some clients as they have to close the file with the skip agency when it charges off.

6. Credit Application and Contract. When available, this can be very valuable. Successful Skip Tracing involves working with actual data, factual information. The credit app and contract are the two documents that were filled out on the day the customer bought the collateral, so this is when the trace starts. The app gives you valuable references, usually people the customer knows well. The numbers may have changed, but just knowing their names and an address can help you skip them down to see if they know your skips whereabouts. The credit app also tells you where the skip was living and what date, how long they were there and sometimes who their landlord is. This information is available in public records, however, many public records have distorted dates as they are only as accurate as what someone entered in a computer. This gives you a starting point, and the more recent the date of the contract the easier it is to trace their steps after they bought the car. It also gives you the customers place of employment information, and sometimes a prior job or address. There are also boxes the customer checks that ask if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime, filed BK, committed a felony, etc.. If you find out they lied on their credit app that technically means they committed a form of fraud, and is something you can use in your investigation.
The contract is the binding legal document between the finance company and the customer, and while you usually have the necessary information it contains, it sometimes can give you important information like a color, the dealership contact info, or the payment amounts. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A CREDIT APP IN THE FILE WHEN YOU REVIEW THE ACOCUNT, ASK THEM TO SEND YOU A COPY OR READ YOU THE INFORMATION FROM IT.

7. Collection notes. Unfortunately, these are not always available, and yet they are possibly the most important part of the pre file review. If you know what has transpired on an account, it’s much easier to work a file, and it can save you a lot of time. While you don’t always take the work someone else has done as the gospel, if the client assigned an account to run an address that looks interesting to you and the repo agent reports they made contact with the guy who just bought the house and he says he bought it out of foreclosure, there is no point in running that address in the field. If the client says a relative is cooperative, or not, that is helpful to determine how you approach the call to that relative, versus going in blindly.

8. Call the client to review the account - This is an important part of how you prepare to work the file. It’s a good idea to introduce yourself if you don’t already know the collector, and even if you do, a couple minutes on the phone discussing what they know about the file and what they’ve done, and asking for the information you need, can all make a big difference in your success.