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Skip Tracing and the Problem with Phones

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that finding someone’s current phone number these days can be a bit of a hassle. Believe me, Professional Skip Tracers are not alone in dealing with this issue.

Why? What has changed? It used to be so easy to simply look up someone’s name in the local phone book and find their current phone number. Times have changed, and there are many reasons, but the biggest culprit is the cheap availability of cell phone plans and the portability of new phone numbers.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Locating someone’s phone number is just one part of the puzzle – getting them to answer the phone is the other, more important task. I’m going to give you some solutions, but let’s first look at why skip tracing for phone numbers has become so difficult.

Why is it So Hard to Skip Trace Phone Numbers?

Current phone numbers are hard to find, and the list of reasons for this is quite extensive. Here are the most common reasons:

  1. Telephone culture has changed drastically
  2. People obtain new phone numbers much more often than they used to
  3. Many people have cell phone numbers underneath a friend or family members’ account
  4. Portability – Moving, paying the bill online, no address changes
  5. Burners and “Trac Phones” are very popular
  6. People will not answer their phone “live”
  7. People are not forthcoming in identifying themselves
  8. Scammers and Spammers flood the phone lines – thus the reluctance to answer the phone

Portability, burners, TracFone’s, cheap pre-paid phones and phone service, etc. Many people no longer have a land line. Cell phone plans are getting so inexpensive that many people simple obtain a new phone number by signing up under “Mom’s” cell phone plan – or maybe even their business phone account as an employee. The phone number is not in their name, so how are you going to contact them?

Then there is the question of why people no longer answer their phones ‘live’ anymore. We can thank the spammers and scammer for that. And creditors. Screening calls is the name of the game.

What if you know that you absolutely, positively have the correct phone number and no one ever answers? Or, they do answer and deny being the person you are trying to contact? Why are they lying to me?

Why do many people have 10 different phone numbers listed under their name that they have used in the last few years? All good questions, and I can give you more than a few reasons why.

Telephone Culture – The Way it Used to Be

Telephone culture is changing rapidly, and people find other ways to communicate. It’s all about texting, email, and Snap Chat these days. Thus, smartphones seem to be used for everything BUT dialing up a friend or family member.

Years ago, people had just one phone line. Before cell phones, an entire family shared just one line, and many people in rural areas were on a “party line.” If you wanted to call someone, all you needed was the local phone book. Easy.

Sure, you could pay extra for that “unlisted” number but that was rare. And, of course, people actually answered their phones back then because the number of spammers and scammers was negligible. Long-distance and International calls were very expensive thus keeping the telemarketers at bay.

People also LIKED to receive phone calls back then. The call would usually be important – or a family or friend calling them. And let’s not forget that “Caller ID’ and *69 had not yet been implemented, so people couldn’t make an on-the-spot decision as to whether they should answer or not. Times have changed, huh?

New Phone Numbers are Easy to Obtain

Cell phones and cell phone plans are cheap these days. I’m not talking about the expensive Android’s and iPhone’s here. I’m referring to everyday cheap phones – burners and Trac Phones. And, of course, the cheaper models of the most popular cell phone manufacturers.

With all of the cell phone company competition, it’s easy to switch plans, and your phone number, and be on your merry way. And, buying a burner at the local Walmart has never been easier. Add in some pre-paid airtime and you’re all set.

How does this affect Skip Tracers? People are constantly changing of phone numbers. Most people have legitimate reason for changing numbers. Others do it for nefarious reasons. Either way, it happens all the time and is a pain in the butt for Skip Tracers.

Sign Up Underneath Someone Else’s Plan

This method of obtaining a phone is becoming more popular every day. Mom gets a cell phone plan, and then puts any number of additional phone lines/numbers under the same plan. Thus, your subject’s name is nowhere to be found in any type of listing.

Skip Tracers have to rely on credit headers and other means of obtaining cell phone numbers. Basically, whenever someone applies for credit, they list their current addresses and phone numbers.

Thus, obtaining these records is one of only a few ways to find someone’s new phone number. If the subject has not signed a lease, set up utilities, or applied for credit or new employment – it’s difficult to find a new, accurate number.

Portability – One of the Biggest Problems

Portability is one of the biggest obstacles. Many people have had the same cell phone number for years, but have moved numerous times. Or converted their land line number to a cell phone number.  Or vice-versa. 

They simply forego the paper statements and pay online. The cell phone company has no idea where they actually reside. All of these factors contribute to the same thing: it’s tough to obtain accurate information.

Why People No Longer Answer Their Phones “Live”

Creditors, scammers, and spammers. Period. No one wants bad news, harassing calls, or sales pitches. “I really need your Social Security Number so I can send you a brochure.” Yeah, right.

Pew Research states that around eighty percent of people in America no longer answer their phones live unless they recognize the person calling. Wow! If you follow the link above and read that article you might be surprised at our habits these days when it comes to answering phones.

Millennials can also give us some good insight as to why THEY don’t answer their phones live any more. There are many reasons for this, and here’s a quick article that will get you thinking,

The bottom line here is that the original reflex of answering the phone as soon as it rings is gone. People think twice before answering the phone “live.”

People are Not Forthcoming in Identifying Themselves

So, you have the correct number, and you are 100% sure that the person answering the phone is very person you are trying to contact. Oops – they tell you that you must have the wrong number because they have never heard of anyone by that name. What are you to do?

It’s very likely that you’re dealing with a debtor here. They’re tired of receiving phone calls from creditors. I certainly don’t blame them. Or, they recognize who is calling and simply want you to go away and quit calling.

It’s for you to decide on what you’re going to do next. Writing a letter is probably the way to go. Or, if it’s some sort of emergency – find one or more of their relatives.

Scammers and Spammers

Yep. Scammers, spammers, and telemarketers play a big part in people not answering their phones. With caller ID, “spam call protection services,” and a general distrust of anyone calling these days – people simply do not answer their phones.

There’s really nothing you can do about this other than explore alternative ways of contacting people. Sadly, with cheap, worldwide calling plans these days, we get bombarded with calls from people and companies we have never heard of.

And don’t even get me started on the robo-calls. Or the “You have a computer virus and we can help fix it” calls. We are all tired of these methods and simply don’t answer the phone anymore.

The Best Solutions For Contacting People

The bottom line on phones here is that you better have alternative methods of contacting your long-lost friends, family members, or potential business partners.

Obtain their physical address and overnight them a letter! Simply put, it is the most effective way of contacting whomever you’re trying to get in touch with.

As Professional Skip Tracers, we know how to find people. Many of the techniques we use no longer involve the using phone. Yep – we’ve evolved.

If you really need to contact someone, you must seriously consider other methods besides a simple phone call. This doesn’t mean we NEVER use the phone to try and contact people. It simply means that a combination of skip tracing methods need to be utilized in order to find someone.

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