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How do you chase a debtor when they have no current address?

It may sound like a rare occurrence, but losing touch with a debtor is more common than you think. So, what do you do if your customer seems to have disappeared?

When a debtor fails to pay you on time, it can be worrying and frustrating. However, if your correspondence is returned, the phone number you have on file has been disconnected or emails bounce back, that's the time when alarm bells really start ringing.

Millions of people and businesses relocate every year. And it's a sad fact that, whether by oversight or by design, many fail to inform creditors of their new address or leave a forwarding address at their former home or premises.

The last thing you want to do in this situation is to write off the debt. So, what is the best course of action? How difficult is it to find an individual or a business when they're doing their best not to be found?

Get expert help

Tracing an absconding debtor yourself can be a difficult and time-consuming process. What's more, it may put undue pressure on your finance team, preventing them from focusing on important credit control and debt management processes.

An alternative method is to work with a professional debt collection agency. They’ll be highly experienced in debtor tracing and will have tried and tested methods for tracking down both individuals and businesses. For example, they can run a comprehensive search using sources such as the electoral roll and financial data, including bank details, loans, credit cards and store cards.

Other routes if the trace fails

Professional debt collection agencies generally have high rates of success in tracking down elusive debtors. However, there will always be situations where the trail leads to a dead end.

The good news is that there are other routes available. Further enquiries can be made via SMS messages, phone calls and emails, as well as general research via online directories, Google searches, business networking sites and social media platforms. In the case of individuals, there are also additional options available, for example tracking them down via their place of work, if this information is known.

Issuing legal proceedings

If it's not possible to find the debtor's new contact details after extensive searching, it's still not over. Legal proceedings to recover the debt can still be issued by serving documents at the debtor's last known address, depending on the circumstance. This means the collection process can continue, although it's important to be realistic about the timescales that may be involved. Even if you obtain a County Court Judgment, it may take weeks or months for bailiffs to locate the debtor and obtain payment or seize assets. That being said, it will cause the debtor problems because they'll have a black mark against their credit record.

Tracing an overseas debtor

Tracing an overseas debtor can be more complex, but not impossible. A good debt collection agency will have a network of international partners with local knowledge and expertise. They will be able to carry out extensive tracing activities using the best sources of information available in the relevant country or region.

Trust the specialists

At Redwood Collections, we're highly experienced in tracing and investigating hard-to-find debtors, both in the UK & overseas. Our expert team has access to a wide range of resources, including extensive information databases and state-of-the-art IT systems to track down debtors via their credit footprints. We can help you do everything possible to ensure that no debtor is unreachable and that your business continues to Grow Stronger.

Email us at info@redwoodcollections.com

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