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Collection Agencies: How They Find You

A letter, a call, a fax at your place of business when you’ve just sat down for a yearly review with your boss: collection agencies seem to have a knack for finding people. This may leave you wondering how, exactly, they do this.
 
No, they don’t employ psychics and they aren’t full of stalkers. Instead, collection agencies use a variety of records and routes to get your current information.

Your Credit Applications: A collection agency is hired by a creditor, a creditor to whom you owe money. This creditor gives the collection agency information provided by your original credit application, including address, employer, and phone number. This is often the number one way you are located.
 
However, if you have moved since filling out the application, this strategy goes right out the window. With old information, a collection agency may find themselves on little more than a wild goose chase as they try to track you based on obsolete information.

The Post Office or Bank: If it is found that you have moved since you filled out your credit application, a collection agency may solicit the post office to help find your new residence. Post offices will have your change of address on file and some post offices may even send your change of address to credit bureaus to inform them that you’ve moved.
 
The Bank is another viable source for a collection agency to use. Unless you tend to hop from bank to bank, you may find yourself banking at the same institution for several years: they will surely have your contact info. Even if you are no longer a customer of theirs, a bank may still have your forwarding address and they might be willing to forward it on to a collection agency.

The DMV: As if going to the DMV and standing in the long lines isn’t enough to make you mad, this department is also a great place for collection agencies to get your address and phone number. While the DMV no longer allows just anyone to search its records, the DMV in some states will let collectors search their database.

Bills and Registrations: Any bills you have, such as cable or phone, as well as registrations, such as vehicle or voter, can be used be a collection agency to find your current residence. Though these records might be hard to procure, and may even be inaccurate if you’ve relocated, more often than not they leave a trail for collection agencies to follow.

A Credit Bureau: The monetary version of Big Brother, it seems as if credit bureaus always know where you are and where you’ve been. If a collection agency is directly associated with a certain credit bureau, they are privy to any information the credit bureau has. Even if a collection agency has no direct ties to a credit bureau, they can pay a fee and ask the credit bureau to locate you.

The World Wide Web: In this day and age, there may be no easier way to find someone than by simply logging on. The Internet not only provides addresses, phone numbers, and public records, but it also allows those who are search savvy to find out whether you’ve ever been in jail and where you presently work. Everything from MySpace to Facebook, from e-bay to high school reunion sites can be used to find you.

As demonstrated above, collection agencies have several outlets they can use to track you down. From a simple Internet search to a cell phone bill, they use a variety of means to make sure you hear from them.

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