Skiptracing (also skip tracing) is the process of locating a person's whereabouts for any number of purposes. A skiptracer is someone who performs this task, which may be the person's primary occupation. The term "skip" refers to the person being searched for, and is derived from the idiomatic expression "to skip town", meaning to depart (perhaps in a rush), leaving minimal clues behind to "trace" the "skip" to a new location.
 
Skip tracing tactics may be employed by debt collectors, bail bond enforcers (bounty hunters), repossession agents, private investigators, attorneys, police detectives, and journalists, or by any person attempting to locate a subject whose contact information is not immediately known. Similar techniques have also been utilized by investigators to locate witnesses in criminal trials.
 
Skiptracing is done by collecting as much information as possible about the subject. The information is then analyzed, reduced, and verified. Obtaining new and correct points of contact is key. Sometimes the subject's current whereabouts are in the data, but are obfuscated by the sheer amount of information or disinformation. Often the data will be used to identify third parties that might be able to assist the process. This is where the job becomes more than mere research since one must often employ methods of social engineering, which involves calling or visiting former neighbors, employers or other known contacts to ask about the subject, sometimes under false or misleading pretenses.