Skip tracing is performed by collecting as much information as possible about the subject. The information is then analyzed, reduced, and verified. Sometimes the subject's current whereabouts are in the data, but are obfuscated by the sheer amount of information or disinformation. Often, the job becomes more than more research since one must often employee methods of social engineering, which involves calling or visiting former neighbors, or other known contacts to ask about the subject, sometimes under false or misleading pretenses.
Records that "skip tracers" use may include phone number databases, credit report (including information provided on a loan application, credit card application, and in other debt collector databases), job application information, criminal background checks, utility bills (electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, Internet, and cable), social security disability, and public tax information. While some of these records may be publicly available.
Even when no specific information is returned, public and private databases exist that cross-reference skip tracing information with others the "skip" may have lived with in the recent past. For instance, if previous records show a "skip" lived in the same house as a third party, the third party may also be "skip traced" in an effort to locate the "skip".