International business-to-consumer (B2C) debts, whether in connection with student loans, medical files or online purchases, are difficult to collect. The older the debts, the more likely it is that the debtor moved location, a telephone number or cell phone is not accurate anymore, or that email addresses have changed. Let alone the complicated matter of enforcing payment legally due to differences in among others legal systems and economic means of the individual debtor.
If the debtor cannot be located, debt collection agencies generally intent to locate the debtor, which in the debt collection business is called Skip Tracing. Official and public data may be available to trace, and often enhanced systems are used.
Generally speaking, for skip tracing in the Caribbean one faces a couple of challenges, which can make it hard and sometimes impossible to locate individuals. I am pointing out three of them.
1. Improper registration systems
Now we must be careful not to generalize, but in several Caribbean nations we see that official registration systems are inefficient and in accurate. Although there might be a formal obligations to properly register or update domicile information, in practice this is poorly carried out in practice and hardly monitored by local authorities as to correctness.
2. Information is often not accessible
As is typical for nations considered offshore locations, official information on private persons publicly available or accessible in Caribbean nations is generally limited, and not in the least case because accessibly is regulated and protected by local law.
3. People move around, and often overseas
As the majority of the Caribbean nations are island states, small in size, and often affiliated or even integral part of an overseas (former, and most commonly, European) “motherland” (like the British Virgin Island and Britain, Curacao and the Netherlands, Guadeloupe and France), and there are strong cultural and economic ties between the Caribbean nations and countries overseas, many people spend at least part of their lives (studies or work) overseas. For several reasons, often people do not change domicile details when they move or move back and may continue to be registered and thus officially live outside the Caribbean, which makes it hard to impossible to determine actual location.
Skip tracing in the Caribbean means facing challenges. The three most common challenges in my view are improper registration systems, the fact that information is often not accessible, and the fact that people move around overseas.
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