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Skip-tracing is different from assets investigations and background checks. Skip-tracing is the discipline of locating an individual's whereabouts, whose information is not readily-available by conventional means. A successful skip-trace will often morph into another assignment, such as a process service, mobile notary, or sub rosa assignment.
Many people erroneously believe all there is to skip-tracing is punching in a name and coming up with a result. While sometimes this can happen, usually experience is required to produce the desired result, and experience is again needed in order to interpret the results. Physical field verification is often required as well. Below is a matrix outlining the progression of (and charges for) a professional skip-trace effort:
Expectations: We are master skip-tracers and can usually get a locate on a target within 30 minutes' time. A half-hour skip-trace effort, in total cost, translates to a 0.5 file setup fee, a $70 flat rate for database access, 0.5 in time for online investigation, and 0.7 hr to draft a 1.5-page report for the client. All totalled, with a 15% office staff surcharge, that is about ~$260 to conduct an easy skip-trace effort, for a paper trace only.
On the other end of the spectrum, some targets require hours and hours (even days/weeks/months) of not just online investigation—but actual field verification—in order to come up with a positive outcome as to a desired target's whereabouts. There is simply no way for an investigator to predict on which end of the spectrum a particular skip-trace effort will fall, though we believe 70% of the time we can get good paper results within 30 minutes' time.
Therefore, we typically advise a client to expect roughly a ~$260 charge for the initial paper effort. After the first phase of the investigation is completed, you will either have your results, or you can have a reference point to decide where you stand—and whether or not you wish to proceed from there to pursue physical verification of the cyber intel, serve process, set up surveillance, etc.
J. Koerner Investigations
P.O. Box 4186
San Dimas, CA 91773
Tel: (909) 225-5448
Fax: (909) 267-9760
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