Bounty Hunters Or Skip Tracers: Which To Use In Dire Situations

A bail bondsman wishes every defendant he or she takes care of would show up for all his or her scheduled court trials for their crimes. Unfortunately, some clients will use their freedom and skip their court hearing.

Bail bondsman services refer to suspects who had skipped their trial as “skippers,” and both bounty hunters and skip tracers track them down for a living. In some cases, the two agents work together to find the missing suspect or culprit.

The Tactics of Bounty Hunters

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The primary motivation of bounty hunters is to receive their reward after they have successfully located and returned a fugitive to a bail bondsman service and authorities. Most companies pay 10% of the suspect’s total bail to the bounty hunter.

The bounty hunter has permission to use equal force if fugitives use force to repel them. Bounty hunters can operate in almost every American state except for states that restrict their activity such as Illinois or Massachusetts.

Trained in self-defense and firearms use, bounty hunters are equivalent to law enforcement and are part-private investigators. However, they work for private businesses, specifically bail companies.

The Intellectual And Social Engineering Of Skip Tracers

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Bounty hunters can be discreet until the fugitive refuses the arrest or shows aggression using physical force or firearms. Skip tracers must be discreet at times.

Unlike bounty hunters, skip tracers are paid up-front. They mostly collect intelligence related to their case, and their operations are similar to private investigators. Their primary difference with private investigators is that skip tracers investigate to find people who went into hiding while private investigators look for people who might be missing without their consent.

Skip tracers do not use firearms or self-defense tactics. They rely on information collection relevant to the case and use social engineering to their advantage. Skip tracers could lure fugitives into traps by analyzing the suspect’s daily routine and capturing them in a sting operation in conjunction with local authorities.

Situational Advantages

Bounty hunters have the skills of private investigators and are ready for any aggression the fugitives may exhibit during their operation. Bail companies find them efficient as most bounty hunters return fugitives within a year. A year is the court’s usual time limit before the local government forfeits the posted bond. If the bounty hunter fails to capture the fugitive within the time limit, he or she fails to receive the promised bounty.

Skip tracers do not have a set time limit and take longer to find fugitives. They also receive a pre-determined and negotiated fee. Operating similarly to private investigators when tracking down their targets and planning elaborate traps for fugitives, skip tracers are useful for small to average bonds and non-aggressive fugitives.


Both bounty hunters and skip tracers understand their operations must be discreet, but the cost efficiency of each agent depends on the likelihood of aggression the fugitive might exhibit and the bail posted for the suspects. Bounty hunters are armed and ready to defend themselves against aggressive fugitives with recorded criminal histories. Skip tracers are suitable for civilian suspects with a non-aggressive criminal history, such as fraud or data manipulation.