Trace and locate searches (also known as skip tracing) may be conducted by private investigators as a part of any investigation that entails locating a subject whose contact information is not immediately known.
Skip tracing is done by collecting as much information as possible about the subject which is then analyzed, reduced, and verified. Sometimes the subject’s current whereabouts are in the data, but are disguised by the sheer amount of information or disinformation. More often the data will be used to identify third parties that might be able to assist the process. This is where the job becomes more than mere research since one must often employ methods of social engineering to finesse information without compromising the situation.