Times are tough. Indeed, in many ways, they’ve never been tougher, with a global cost of living crisis during a “breathtaking surge in extreme poverty” according to the UNDP. In developing countries in parts of Africa, the Balkans, and Asia, millions of people are being tipped into poverty and those that have debts to pay will be unable to pay them.
Worse still, many individuals might find themselves losing their homes as a result of their poverty and, if that should happen, it makes it almost impossible for debt collections teams to find them when they are finally able to pay back what they owe.
It’s not only happening in the developing world either, with homelessness set to rise by at least a third in the UK by 2024 as a “tidal wave” of need begins to hit. While this is a shocking and tragic thing, it doesn’t stop the fact that lenders have families to feed too and they will be left out of pocket if they can’t find the ones who owe them.
To be of “no fixed address” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re homeless, it just means having no permanent residence. However, in most cases, an NFA case will be due to a person losing their home either due to a natural disaster, conflict, or poverty.
This puts lenders in a difficult position as lenders are human beings too and they understand that people can fall on hard times, often through no fault of their own. When you’re living through such turmoil, it’s also understandable that paying off your credit card debts might not exactly be your number one priority.
That means it falls to the lenders to chase after their debtors, which can be a rather straightforward task if it’s a business that’s still trading or an individual with an address. If there’s no address to find, however, an extra level of complication is added to an already difficult situation. So, what are your options here?
The first step is to ensure you’ve scoured every public record and database possible. This includes electoral rolls, white pages, and as many online databases as you can get your hands on.
If you can get hold of an employer or former employer that will usually steer you in the right direction. The good news is you must have at least one address on file, as you wouldn’t have cleared the loan in the first place otherwise, so you can always use that as a starting point too.
Paying a local professional for tracing assistance is always an option. This is particularly useful if the debtor in question has gone off-grid or is making continued attempts to deny they are the subject at an address to avoid paying their debts.
The debt tracer will typically use credit agency data to trace the whereabouts of the debtor, which can be difficult to get access to as a private company. However, be aware that these private investigators or professional tracing agents can prove costly and you can’t legally claim the expense back from the debtors.
With the right guidance, you might not need to call in professionals. If you’re looking for an individual, asking family, friends, and business associates is the best first step, as well as their workplace. There are also various free and low-cost online directories to search through.
If it’s a business you’re looking for, the trading address will often be on their website or social media. In many countries, businesses must also be registered with the government and there should be an online database for you to search through. You could also try using popular online directories or even obtaining a financial report, which will be particularly helpful in ascertaining if they have the assets available to repay their debt.
Of course, if you’re able to track down the debtor, you need to be confident they have access to the funds or assets that will repay their debts. If you were struggling to locate a business that closed down as a result of the pandemic, for example, or an individual that moved after their home was repossessed, you’ll need to think carefully about your chances of recovering the debt before incurring the cost of pursuing them in the first place.
Ultimately, it’s almost impossible to live in this day and age without leaving a trail behind you. Finding a debtor is always going to be easier if you have more information and in this increasingly digital world, one thing we are certainly not short on is data.
To give yourself the best chance, however, lenders should ensure they are using the latest technology, including debt collections software that allows them to track and analyze every step of the debtor’s journey. That way, they stand even less chance of falling off your radar.
Contact us at EXUS today for more information on how our industry-leading debt collections solutions can help you weather the coming recession