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News > Missing Participants: DIY or Locator Service?



Missing Participants: DIY or Locator Service?

Sponsored by MFS Investment Management


One of the sessions at last week’s National Conference was about missing participants. One of the suggestions was to engage a commercial locator service to help track down participants. Though most of the audience did not use such a service, some did and we wondered how prevalent this is among members.

Nearly 30 percent of respondents use a commercial locator service to help track down missing participants. Many respondents stated that their recordkeeper tracks down missing participants for them, and that the recordkeeper uses a locator service. It seems that most respondents DIY when it comes to searching and tracking missing participants, and some are considering a service to help.

For those looking for additional resources on missing participants, there is an article here on the topic from PSCA’s recent national conference, and an article here that was recently published in PSCA’s Defined Contribution Insights Spring 2023 issue. Comments from the QOTW follow.

Do not use a service:

  • Benefits Administrator tracks down missing participants
  • Considering for the future
  • Fidelity has a service to assist us with tracking down participants through a credit reporting service and I also use old personnel files for phone numbers and email addresses.
  • I have a internal system where I use sites like Fast People Search to find lost shareholders
  • Interesting question. I had asked Empower if they were doing it, as I noticed some return checks on the system. Customer service was not sure and hasn't gotten back to me yet.
  • Looking forward to the new government database
  • No, we go through our plan's recordkeeper - I believe they use Lexis
  • Our Recordkeeper does it
  • our RK just goes by lexusnexus, i think.
  • sometimes we use internet searches, or USPS to see if we are provided a forwarding address
  • Using a paid service doesn’t provide much more help than doing it ourselves, and we save money. However, it would be amazing to have a central repository for Plans to utilize... maybe something that securely uses other Plans' contact lists, New Hire Registries, SS records, etc. A central repository would save time and effort, and could be operated by a government agency.
  • We are in the process of vetting several commercial locator service.  We hope to select one soon.
  • We don't but I may have to suggest using one to the powers that be.
  • We have the option to pay our record keeper to do an SSN search and then we follow up from there.
  • We have used Google or other address look up websites
  • We just search ourselves.
  • We keep track of those who have not requested distributions.
  • We try to use friends, Facebook, etc. and haven't had any trouble finding participants.
  • We typically have our recordkeeper lookup missing participants.
  • We used to use the IRS. They had a program years ago but have since stopped being helpful in this area.
  • Would like suggestions on how to track down missing participants
  • I use Lexis people search for current addresses
  • Our provider takes care of that for us.

Use a commercial service:

  • Done annually for all benefits by an outside provider. Coordinated by our recordkeeper.
  • For $11/month I use Truthfinder.  It is pretty good
  • I try to find them myself first, then after I have exhausted all that I can do, I move on to the service.
  • Our recordkeeper uses a service on our behalf but we also have an internal process that includes utilization of a credit reporting agencies data and internet searches.
  • Part of our MEP service agreement with Transamerica
  • The central registry for retirement benefits is a super idea so participants will know where to look -- many do not know they may have prior benefits from a long ago position
  • We currently use LifeStatus 360 to assist with missing participants.
  • We do not have many so we use a paid online service like BeenVerified periodically to search.
  • We have had about a 50% success rate in locating missing participants. We have had to use a combination of communications from the commercial locator and from our team directly.
  • We rely on our RK to do most of the work to track down missing participants, including using commercial locator services.
  • We used a 3rd party the last several years and finally this year our record keeper created similar services. We use our record keeper now.