A skip is a person who is hiding from paying their debts. A skip trace is simply the gathering of information about this person. While the concept is simple the process can be difficult. A researcher, many times a private investigator, tries to piece together as much information about a person as can be found -- where they live, where they have lived, what they drive, where they work, who they are related to and their situation in life.
These things seem simple from the outside but when you think of all the people in the world or even just all the people in your city or on your block you can begin to see the difficulty. Not everyone leaves much of a paper trail or they purposefully don’t leave much because they don’t want to be found. There is also the difficulty of finding and researching the correct person when there could be 10 people in the same state with the same name.
Every researcher approaches the task in their own way and many glean information as much through paper as through osmosis and knowledge of human nature. You get a feeling for a person and you can make educated guesses about where else to look or how to best find the person. The abilities of a good skip tracer come with time and are helped by talent.