Collector - March 2018 - 27
used sites are True People Search, Family
Tree Now and Radaris.
A Miami Herald article published in May
2017 said True People Search "has garnered
negative attention for making personal
information easily accessible on their site. It
prompts you to search a name, and possibly
a ZIP code, into a search bar. Based solely
on those two pieces of information, you can
find out that person's age, phone numbers,
current address, past address and relatives."
Stuart cautions that some of the
information found on these websites is not
necessarily accurate or complete, particularly
if the site relies on public information.
Furthermore, she said ages are usually
corrupt, so she advises against placing too
much weight on those numbers.
An important point to remember
with regard to accessibility of personal
information is: "What you are doing on a
daily basis [on your telephone and your
computer] is putting your information out
there," Stuart said.
OLD IS GOLD
When using websites like True People
Search and Family Tree Now, Stuart
advised skiptracers to pay attention to old
or dated information as it can easily lead to
new findings. "Old is gold-I say this over
and over. If you go back in time, you can go
forward," she said.
For example, an old address can lead to a
telephone number, a relative or an associate
of a consumer. And if you are coming up
short on information, don't forget to try
transposing or manipulating telephone
numbers, addresses or name spellings before
entering them into a search site.
Disconnected telephone numbers are
as important today as email addresses
and usernames, Stuart said, adding, "just
because you delete a phone number [that]
doesn't mean all information associated
with that phone number has been deleted
from the internet."
She advises skiptracers to search for phone
numbers on Google or enter them into
Whitepages.com as such searches may lead
to more valuable information.
In the debt collection business, acquiring
files with accurate telephone numbers is
an uncommon occurrence, according to
Simmermon. That's why for certain accounts,
email addresses are the next best lead,
particularly since such information can lead
a skiptracer to an accurate Facebook page.
And while many debt collectors are
wary of using social media to track down
information on consumers, it is a proven
resource for pinpointing locations, contacts,
associates-and family members. Debt
collectors, however, do need to ensure that
their skiptracing techniques do not run
afoul of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Again, using Facebook or other social
media channels to get information may
better serve companies looking for highdollar account balances that have the
resources for deep research. One note: if you
click on someone's Facebook page too often,
you will appear in their "people you may
know" feed, Stuart said.
Consumers who fail to properly set
up security on their cell phones open
themselves to being located by a skiptracer
or anyone else who is technologically savvy.
"If I tweet or use Instagram from my
cellular phone (and depending on privacy
settings), by using sources and applications
available, normally within about 30 seconds
someone can geolocate me within feet
of where I am standing depending on
location," Stuart said.
While debt collectors usually don't need to
know a consumer's exact location at a given
time, it is noteworthy that technology has
advanced to a level where such information
is available. A company's needs and
capabilities will determine whether social
media, open-access internet resources or
electronic databases are the most logical
choices for helping to locate consumers.
All consumers, regardless of age, are
encouraged to be mindful of the speed at
which information flows on the internet.
Anyone with concerns about the legalities
of using social media or the internet to find
consumers is advised to visit ACA's website at
www.acainternational.org or the Federal Trade
Commission's website at www.ftc.gov.
Kim Coghill is ACA International's vice
president of communications.
can use open-access
internet resources and
electronic databases to
locate consumers-the trick
is to understand how to
use available information
seemingly insignificant data.
Don't turn your back on
old or dated information
as it can easily lead to new
information on a consumer.
Debt collectors need
to ensure that their
skiptracing techniques are
compliant with Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act