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The Best Background Check Services

Where Can You Get the Most Accurate and Affordable Background Checks?

You're already well aware of the fact that you can find out lots about people with a simple Google search, but what if you need to know more? There are plenty of reasons to pay for a background check, from vetting your newest love interest to making sure a childcare provider doesn't have a criminal past.

These paid platforms can access records that won't show up in a traditional search - and they save you time by pulling together information from thousands of databases into one place. When you run a background check, most services will give you two tiers of pricing: basic and "premium" . What's the difference? A basic search typically renders results showing a person's known aliases (like maiden names) and relatives, address history, phone number, email addresses, and possibly social media accounts.

Friday, December 2nd

2022 Background Check Service Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award PeopleFinders Review 5 Star Rating

PeopleFinders

5 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated by the BBB
  • In business for over 30 years
  • Search by name, address (physical or email), or phone
  • Affordable prices for a single report or 3- to 5-day trial
  • Pay less than $30/month for full background reports
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Launched in 1999, PeopleFinders is one of the largest sources of public records data across the nation. Whether you need to check out a new neighbor or a prospective romantic interest, you're likely to get the results you need with this platform.

Fast and hassle-free

If you're starting your background check with a name, city, and state, consider adding the middle initial or name and age range to make your search go super-fast. Even if you don't have those details, PeopleFinders will still return results quickly and without making you wait for it to "process" (like many rival sites do). For each target we researched, this platform gave us almost immediate matches that were correct - and with enough preliminary information to confirm we had found the right people.

Two types of searches and reports

Once you've spotted the person you're checking out and clicked for the report, you'll be given two choices: pay $1.95 and get that report and a three-day trial of PeopleFinders' most basic search level, or upgrade to a full background check that includes criminal records, property records, and other in-depth databases. This is the option most people will need for a true background check; the results from the basic search are, well, basic. When we selected the more rigorous search for $9.95, PeopleFinders upped the ante with a price of $3.95 for the report and a three-day trial of the more comprehensive plan. (Be aware that the checkout page included an optional emailed report for $0.50. We're not sure why that's a thing, but keep an eye out for it.)

It's worth it to wait a little

If you're not in a hurry, let your browser page sit open on the PeopleFinders' checkout page for a few minutes, then start to navigate away from the site. In our case, this led to a pop-up offer of a longer trial (five days) and the full background check report for only $1. Good things come to those who wait. With any plan or trial you select, you should expect it to become a monthly subscription - $24.95/month for basic and $29.95 for comprehensive background checks - if you don't cancel your PeopleFinders account prior to the end of the trial period.

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No bait-and-switch

Transparency is always a positive thing for a business, and PeopleFinders gets high marks in that regard. Other background check services obscure the fact that users will pay extra to get the most comprehensive reports, but there's none of that here. Better yet, PeopleFinders' monthly pricing is lower than the competition's, and they spell out that your membership will have a limit of 150 monthly searches on the basic tier and 400 on the comprehensive one.

Costs

  • $1.95 for a 3-day trial of basic search
  • $9.95 for a one-time report with full background info ($1 with pop-up offer)
  • $24.95/month for basic people search (150 searches/month)
  • $29.95/month for comprehensive background reports (400 searches/month)

Excellent reputation

This company gets a lot of positive feedback. To start, the Better Business Bureau assigns PeopleFinders a perfect "A+" grade. Beyond that, more than 1200 customers say that this service merits a flawless five-star rating: the customer service team is knowledgeable and friendly, and the reports are about as accurate as you can expect from a background check service. It's good to see a service with so many satisfied users, in an industry where hundreds (if not thousands) of complaints are the norm.

Best overall choice

PeopleFinders tells you exactly what to expect when running background checks. You'll have plenty of time to try out the service, and you should have no issues if you decide to cancel instead of subscribing. On the whole, the results here are accurate and offer a great value when you pay for a monthly membership. This is our first-place winner among providers of background checks.

Spokeo Review 4 Star Rating

Spokeo

4 Star Rating
  • "A" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • Over 15 years in business
  • Search by name, email, phone number, or address
  • "Search Concierge" included with membership
  • $24.95/month for 100 basic searches
  • $38.95/month for 150 basic + court/historical records searches

When you use Spokeo, you'll get access to more than 12 billion records across thousands of databases. In business since 2006, this background search provider conducts a half-million people searches each day, including not-for-profit organizations and adoption search helpers in their quest for connections.

Searching takes a little more work

In comparison with other background check platforms, Spokeo's process takes a few extra steps to complete. The service lets you start your search with a name, email or residence address, or a phone number - off to a traditional start. But, when you search by name, there's no place to enter a state: Spokeo makes you go to a second page where you select a state with results matches for that name, and then browse all of them at once or refine them by a particular city. Those results may be grouped within a metro area: one background check candidate we researched was from the Orlando area, and her records were found by clicking on that city and then looking for her listing among the suburbs shown there.

Results are on the money

Fortunately, once we narrowed it down with all of those clicks, we were pleased to see that Spokeo had located the right people - and that so much detail was included to confirm those correct matches, more so than most of Spokeo's competitors. We were able to see street names, all but the last four digits in the phone numbers, and so forth.

How much does it cost?

What you'll spend to access Spokeo reports depends on how much info you need. A single name report can be accessed for $1.95. Or, you can pay $0.95 for that same report and also get a 7-day trial to check out the results when looking up other individuals. You'll need to cancel your Spokeo account before that week is up; otherwise, you'll automatically be subscribed to their $24.95/month plan. You should be aware that the entry-level Spokeo membership doesn't include all of the available records - particularly the ones that are most sought after when running a background check (court proceedings, property history, arrest records). That's an extra $14 per month, on top of the $24.95.

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Up to 150 background checks per month

If you're not paying attention, you might overlook the fact that you don't get unlimited background checks here. Assuming you're subscribing to the higher plan, you'll only get 150 searches each month (or just 100 if you prefer the basic tier of service). If you're a law enforcement officer or need to use Spokeo for your business, reach out to their customer service team to get pricing information for high-volume plans.

Costs

  • $1.95 for a name report ($0.95 on special offer)
  • $24.95/month for 100 profile views: basic info only
  • Add $14/month for court and historical records

Want some help?

Spokeo includes a "search concierge" service with every membership. If you need some assistance tracking down the right individual for your background search or you're not even sure where to start, use Spokeo's live chat, email or toll-free number to ask for help - at no extra cost.

Good reputation

Spokeo gets both an "A" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, always a good sign. You'll see quite a few complaints filed there, but reading through them it becomes clear that people didn't read the details of what they were signing up for when paying for a trial membership. That's one of the easiest pieces of information to find during the Spokeo signup process, not hidden in any way - and it's no reflection on the accuracy of the background check results you can get here.

Solid service for background checks

Spokeo delivers decent results for background checks. It's not the cheapest platform out there, but we like having an option to get in-depth information with one monthly price (instead of paying for a "premium" report every time we need one). This should absolutely be a service you consider if you plan on running multiple background checks every month.

Info Tracer Review 4 Star Rating

Info Tracer

4 Star Rating
  • Search by name, phone, email, username, address, license plate, VIN, or IP address
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business for almost 20 years
  • Excellent 24/7 customer service
  • Good reputation

For almost 20 years, InfoTracer has been helping individuals look up people by name, phone number and address, as well as email address, license plate, VIN or IP address. There are over five billion records here - and counting.

Fast searches

We're pleased with how quickly InfoTracer runs reports. When we started with a first and last name plus a probable state of residence, it only took a minute to give us a list of results. This service accurately matched the details we entered with the right individual, and we didn't have to wait through minute after minute of questions and "database searching" like many of InfoTracer's rivals did.

Low-cost trial

Once you've identified the corresponding person you'd like to background check and click to see the results, you'll land on the payment page: $2.95 for a report plus a seven-day trial of InfoTracer's basic search services.

Basic membership benefits

If you don't cancel after your trial, you'll be subscribed to InfoTracer's basic search features for $24.95 per month. But, you should be aware that this only gives you access to one level of information, like address history and known relatives, aliases, and so forth. We had to reach out to InfoTracer's online chat support (which answered very quickly, even on a weekend) to find out more about how customers access the kinds of details traditionally desired in a background report: eviction records, criminal convictions, and so on.

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Costs add up

We didn't love the answer: instead of being able to upgrade to a higher membership plan, users have to pay per report to the tune of anywhere from $9 to $25. On the one hand, it's nice that you only have to buy the reports you actually need. But, on the other hand, it's going to get spendy if you need in-depth background checks on a large number of people.

Costs

  • $2.95 for a full report and 7-day trial
  • $24.95/month for basic searches
  • Extra fees of $9 to $25 per report for extensive background checks

Users are happy with this service

Despite the pricing structure, InfoTracer clients are overwhelmingly satisfied. This background check service shines in the customer service arena: people say that the support team is readily available (as we also discovered) and always willing to resolve issues quickly and fairly. InfoTracer's reps can even pitch in and help you find answers on a tricky search problem, going above and beyond what you'll find with some rival services. More than 1500 customers have rated this background check platform with a flawless 5/5 stars.

Trustworthy and detailed

You should have no qualms about using InfoTracer to run background checks. Even though the pay-per-report aspect isn't our favorite thing, we still see the overall value provided here - particularly if you only need that level of investigation once in a while and primarily need access to more basic info. We suggest giving InfoTracer a thorough trial for a week to see if it's the right background check service for you.

Direct Screening Review 3.5 Star Rating

Direct Screening

3.5 Star Rating
  • "A" rated by the BBB
  • FCRA compliant for screening volunteers, tenants, employees
  • No monthly memberships
  • Pay only for the reports you need
  • Over 600 million records
  • Needs the SSN/DOB and consent of the individual being checked

Direct Screening has been around for the better part of 20 years. This is a no-nonsense background check service, as you'll see from the slightly outdated-looking website. And, it's one of the only providers we found that can get you FCRA-compliant background checks if you need to screen a tenant or prospective employee.

Pay per report

Unlike most of the background check services we evaluated, Direct Screening has no monthly subscriptions. Instead, you'll pay a one-time fee for each report you need to run. These include the following:

  • Social Security ($4.95): get information on a person's name, aliases, current and former addresses, date of birth, current and prior phone numbers. Information goes back as far as 20 years.
  • State ($12.95): search criminal records in a single state, including sex offender records.
  • Enhanced State ($23.95): combines a state search with a Social Security search.
  • Regional ($14.95): conduct a criminal search in one of four US regions (East, Midwest, Southern, Western). This includes a sex offender search as well.
  • National ($16.95): covers all criminal record sources nationwide, including terrorist watch lists, FBI's most wanted, and sex offender records.
  • Enhanced National ($38.95):combines the national search with an SSN lookup.

In each category, you can see a complete list of the data sources by clicking the link below the description. We also encourage you to click on the "View Sample Report" link (directly below the price): they're comprehensive and very official-looking.

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Not a background check you can run on the down low

You don't have a way of seeing what information Direct Screening might be matching up before ordering a report, so the more detailed you can be with your search details, the better. The form asks for the person's name, birthdate and social security number, and you're required to have consent from the individual you're background checking in order to submit the report request. In other words, this is no semi-sneaky, behind-the-scenes way of looking into a significant other's past.

Costs

  • Ranges from $4.95 to $38.95 per report

Good reputation, not many testimonials

As you might imagine, Direct Screening doesn't have nearly as much feedback as the other background check services in our review. When you're paying a fee for each FCRA-compliant report you need, those costs add up. Most people running personal background checks (especially for curiosity's sake) aren't going to need something quite so professional, for lack of a better word - and that means there aren't as many user comments to consider. But what's out there is positive: the Better Business Bureau gives Direct Screening an "A" rating, and there were only three complaints filed there in the three years leading up to this review.

Straightforward background search provider

We give Direct Screening a better-than-average ranking. There's certainly no bait-and-switch marketing techniques happening here: you get the reports you pay for, and that's that. And, with it being FCRA compliant, it's a terrific resource if you need a legal way to research a tenant, volunteer or employee. However, a lot of people who want to run background checks prefer to keep their searching private, and Direct Screening can't do that for you (since you have to enter the person's SSN and birthdate). This is a reliable, straightforward service, but it might not meet the needs of the average individual doing some personal detective work.

Find Out The Truth Review 3 Star Rating

Find Out The Truth

3 Star Rating
  • In business for over two decades
  • "A+" rated by the BBB
  • Numerous background check options, including international criminal records
  • FCRA compliant reports available
  • Pay per report: no subscriptions or monthly fees
  • Prices range from $9.95 to $299.95 per report
  • All reports processed by a licensed private investigator
  • Results take 12-24 business hours to complete

Find Out The Truth is owned by licensed private investigators. When you use this service to run a background check, your search isn't just run through databases by a computer: it actually gets handled by a professional with at least five years of experience. You won't get that level of service from most online background checks.

So many types of background checks to choose from

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of reports you can buy through Find Out The Truth. A basic people search starts at $9.95, employment and tenant background checks begin at $29.95, and a social media search costs $39.95. The most comprehensive screening offered here is the Due Diligence Background Check for $299.95. You can click on the Details button to see everything that's included in all reports, and the Due Diligence screening covers items like property ownership, marriage records, national sex offender and criminal records databases, evictions and foreclosures, and much more. It may be worth your time to contact the support team at Find Out The Truth, to describe your needs and determine which report(s) are best suited to getting you the required information.

Not fast, but thorough

This background check provider stands out in several ways. First, it's the only service we know that makes it possible to search criminal records in Puerto Rico or other international locations. It's also pretty impressive that your inquiry will be handled by an actual licensed investigator and not just run through a computer. Be aware that such meticulousness won't result in an instant report like most rival services: you should expect a wait time of up to 24 business hours (or three business days) before any results are in.

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Could use more customer feedback

How about reputation? Find Out The Truth has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, and there were no complaints filed there in the last three years. And that's about the extent of the available feedback for this background check platform. Their social media channels are pretty quiet, with no new posts in the last 2+ years, and there isn't even a phone number to contact the company - just an email address, online form, street address and fax number. We'd really like a little more to go on, to determine how well this service is meeting customers' needs, especially since there's a "no refunds" policy once the research has been done.

Costs

  • Individual reports range from $9.95 to $299.95
  • Bulk discounts available on orders of 10+ reports

Good if you need hands-on background check services

Because of the personal touch this background check provider offers, we give it a three-star rating. We're impressed with the many varieties of research that can be done, and we're glad to see that at the very least, the BBB thinks this is a company you can trust. But, for Find Out The Truth to get a stronger recommendation, we would need to see a lot more feedback from previous clients (even a few testimonials on the site would be nice). You should absolutely consider using this service if you need a comprehensive, professional background check, especially one that complies with FCRA, but not if you're in a hurry or just trying to satisfy your curiosity about an acquaintance.

US Search Review 2.5 Star Rating

US Search

2.5 Star Rating
  • In business for over 25 years
  • Search by name, phone number or address
  • Unlimited basic monthly searches for under $20
  • Pay per report for background check records
  • 5-day trial for $1.99

US Search is one of four services owned by PeopleConnect that offer background check services (the other three being Instant Checkmate, Truthfinder, and Intelius). This one proudly advertises having been featured by CBS, CNBC and CNN as "America's Public Records Search Company" .

Do you have a lot of time?

Out of the four PeopleConnect platforms, US Search strikes us as the most cumbersome. There isn't even a search box on the landing page. Instead, they put a "get started" button there and then you can click to the part where you enter a name, phone number, or address (which also took a long time to load). Buckle up for a long process: you'll have to answer questions about why you're trying to do a background check, who you're looking for, and so on - and every click seems to take more and more time. When you finally get to the place to enter your name and email, you land on a report preview that tells you very little.

Not as expensive as its partner sites

Despite being tedious to use, US Search is the least expensive of the four sites in the PeopleConnect portfolio. There's no need to wait for big discounts: you'll automatically get a $1.99 five-day trial and/or a monthly membership with unlimited searches for $19.86. Given that all four services return results from the same databases, you might as well pay less for it.

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Get ready for the upcharge

Wondering what the catch is? We'll tell you: US Search (and the other three sites) only perform a basic people search at the outset, even if you enter the target information as a background search. To get the kinds of detail most clients expect, you'll have to pay extra for "premium" reports. At no point during the signup process does US Search tell you what that will cost: it's only revealed after you've paid to access the basic results and are left wanting. If our research is accurate, it's safe to expect per-report fees around $20. In other words, every time you run a background check here, you're paying for the monthly membership and a surcharge for additional items such as court records and criminal history.

Costs

  • $19.96 for month-to-month membership
  • 5-day trial for $1.99
  • Per-report fees for detailed background check info

Needs to be more transparent

US Search would benefit from being more direct with prospective site users. With no preview of matching reports, hidden fees for "premium" data, and a more challenging search process, is it any surprise that people are disappointed? We didn't find a ton of glowing praise from customers that used this site for background checks.

Top of the bottom?

Is there any honor in being the best of the worst? Maybe. You won't spend a ton of money to check out the background check capabilities here, if you're mindful of the trial period and cancel it before it renews. That would let you see if there's enough details returned for the purposes of your background check, or if you need to purchase the one-off, comprehensive report. We'd recommend looking at US Search's competitors before spending your energy (and money) here.

Intelius Review 2.5 Star Rating

Intelius

2.5 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business for nearly 20 years
  • Search by name, address, or phone number
  • Options for unlimited basic monthly searches or a one-off report
  • 5-day trial for $1.99

If you've ever tried US Search, Truthfinder, or Instant Checkmate, you won't find any surprises with Intelius - because they're all owned by PeopleConnect and use the same databases to run background checks.

Run a basic background check in five minutes

Intelius lets you start your search by name, city and state, phone number, or address. During the search process, you'll be prompted to answer clarifying questions about the individual being investigated: places they may have lived, whether or not they're an only child, approximate age range, and so on. You can skip this step if you happen to be doing a background check on someone with a relatively unique name, because you'll be taken directly to the page for requesting their report. The whole process takes about five minutes, and you'll be asked for your name and email address to save the results.

Different options for pricing and reports

Out of the four PeopleConnect background check platforms, Intelius is the second-most affordable in some cases. The monthly fee for unlimited, basic background checks is $24.86, or pay $42.25 for a two-month subscription. When we hesitated on the site for a few minutes, a pop-up offer gave us the opportunity to choose a five-day trial for $1.99 (more than the other three sister services). Waiting even longer led to yet another offer, this time a one-off fee of $29.99 to access a single report, and no monthly subscription.

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Is that all?

We suspect that there's more than meets the eye with Intelius' background checks. The way most of the PeopleConnect sites work, the basic fees only include basic details like locations, addresses, relatives and so on. You'll definitely get that here. But you should also expect that to get a full report that reaches the level of detail most people require from a true background check, Intelius is going to hit you up for more money, probably on a per-report basis. There's no FAQ here and no way to see in advance what to expect in this regard.

Costs

  • $24.86 for one month of unlimited basic reports
  • $42.25 for two months of unlimited basic reports
  • $1.99 for a 5-day trial
  • $29.95 for a single report
  • Extra fees for comprehensive background checks

Not bad, not great

We don't have any big concerns about Intelius' overall reputation. The BBB gives them an "A+" , which can be counted on as an indicator that the company isn't conducting any shady business or tricking consumers. And, if all you need is the kind of information rendered in a basic search, you might not be completely disappointed here. But, since there's probably another shoe left to drop (namely, the extra fees for in-depth information common in a background check), we suggest using the higher-rated, non-PeopleConnect platforms in our evaluation.

Truthfinder Review 2 Star Rating

Truthfinder

2 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business since 2015
  • Search by name and location, phone number or email address
  • 100% no-hassle cancellation

When a background check platform starts out by warning us that we might find "shocking" and "embarrassing" information about our friends and family, it's a red flag - and Truthfinder waves it. However, the process of running reports with this service is surprisingly straightforward and our results were accurate, with no teases of scandalous information needed to get our attention.

Use name, phone number, or email to search

Truthfinder gives you the opportunity to run a background check using a name/city/state or phone number as your starting point. Don't forget to check the box if you're running a report on yourself to see what comes up. As the search runs, the platform gives you a number of prompts to answer clarifying questions: possible relative matches, an age range, and any other details you may have. In our case, the search process took about three minutes, and we were correctly matched with the report for the individual in question.

But wait - there are more questions

You might think that, from that point, you could simply purchase the report. Nope! When you select the individual whose background check you want to see, you'll be asked further questions... over the span of about 20 minutes (*sigh*). You'll get even more hints of scandal, from government watch list possibilities to warnings that results may include "very graphic" information of a "sensitive" nature - even if the person you're searching for is about as sketchy as Big Bird.

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Discounts may pop up

When you finally get to the end of the search process, your first impression will be that you've only got two choices to access the report: pay $28.05 for a month of unlimited searches or get double the subscription length for $46.56. Each one will renew automatically until you cancel. And yet, as we went to other browser tabs and let the Truthfinder page just sit for awhile, we got two pop-up offers: first, one that gave us a full-access, 5-day trial membership with premium reports (the level of detail you usually want from a background check, and not just the basics) for $1 and renewing at $29.89/month. Next, we were given the option to purchase a single report for $29.95 and avoid the whole monthly plan aspect.

Costs

  • $28.05 for one month of unlimited reports
  • $46.56 for two months of unlimited reports
  • 5-day trial for $1
  • Access a single report for $29.95

Unhappy users

Despite having an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, Truthfinder doesn't have a stellar record of customer satisfaction, Complaints range from inaccurate information when people run a background check on themselves (to verify the legitimacy of the results) to big hassles trying to cancel accounts and get refunds. Many users feel tricked by the difference between a basic search and "premium" reports, and understandably so: there's nothing on the Truthfinder site that spells it out, but we suspect that it's a per-report fee for the more in-depth information usually provided in a background check.

Room for improvement

Truthfinder isn't the absolute worst of the worst among background check platforms. Our experience returned surprisingly accurate results, and we appreciated having a five-day access period for just $1. However, in the end you're probably going to pay more here than other sites charge, and you could be blindsided by expensive per-report fees that add up when you're running searches for multiple people. Try one of our higher-rated options before committing to using Truthfinder.

Instant Checkmate Review 2 Star Rating

Instant Checkmate

2 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business for over 10 years
  • Search by name, reverse phone, criminal records or inmate name

If you've read our reviews of Instant Checkmate's three sister sites - US Search, Intelius, and Truthfinder - you've already got a good idea of what to expect here. Just in case you're still considering using this service for running background checks, we'll give you the rundown.

Decent variety of search starting points

You can start your background check in a traditional manner, by name and location, or you can do a reverse phone lookup. Check out the links at the top of the site and you'll also find options for inmate search and criminal records.

Can you clarify that?

Don't browse away from the Instant Checkmate site while it processes your search, because it's going to pop up and ask clarifying questions to narrow down the results. Is your target individual an only child? Do you suspect that they have a criminal record? Those are some of the things we were asked, and yet we still got almost 100 potential matches and had to enter an approximate age, any known city the person had lived in, and their middle initial.

Tedious background check process

From start to finish, plan on spending about 20 minutes waiting for your background check to run when you use Instant Checkmate. It feels pretty unnecessary when rival services get it done in five minutes or less.

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More expensive than most

We weren't thrilled with the pricing offered by this search provider, once we identified that the preliminary results matched the correct person and went to purchase the report. Instant Checkmate charges $35.12 for a month of unlimited reports and $84.28 for a three-month plan, and they'll renew automatically unless you cancel. After a short pause, the site popped up an offer of a five-day trial for just $1, and shortly after we were given the chance to buy a single report for a one-time fee of $29.95.

Costs

  • $35.12 for one month
  • $84.28 for three months
  • 5-day trial for $1
  • Access a single report for $29.95
  • Upgrade to a Premium report for $19.99

You'll have to pay more to learn more

And even when you buy that report, you may find it a lot lacking in the kinds of details you were anticipating from the background check. Records like civil judgments, voter registration, tax liens and more are only disclosed when you pay an additional $19.99 - per report. We never would have known that if we hadn't looked at Instant Checkmate's FAQ. It's not uncommon among these services, but it has come as a nasty surprise to site users who thought they were getting the whole enchilada and only wound up with a few tortilla chips (pardon the metaphor).

BBB says yes, users say no

Most companies with an "A+" and accreditation do well with customer satisfaction, but that's not really the case here. Although a few clients are happy with the background check results here, many more say that they didn't get what they paid for. Some users say that while Instant Checkmate promises "unlimited" searches, their accounts were locked for violating the terms of use when they searched "too much" .

Go with a higher-rated background check provider

Unless you have 20 minutes to babysit a search while it processes and you love the idea of spending an extra $20 every time you want all available information on a target individual, we don't recommend using Instant Checkmate for background checks. You'll get more for your money with another service.

BeenVerified Review 1.5 Star Rating

BeenVerified

1.5 Star Rating
  • Used by over one million people
  • In business for 15 years
  • Search by name, phone, address, email, vehicle, property, social media, or business
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

BeenVerified got its start in 2007 and is based in New York City. For one monthly price, you can perform up to 100 monthly background checks that include searching by name, address, email, social media, vehicle info, and business name.

Tedious process

The search process at BeenVerified is unnecessarily tedious. When you start by entering a name, there's no immediate way to provide more details to narrow it down (like state, age). You have to wait until it processes the name search to provide further details, and then answer further questions about the type of information you're looking for, giving BeenVerified your name and email address, and waiting for the databases to be searched. All told, it took just under 10 minutes to get to the BeenVerified checkout page.

Match or no match?

And even at that, we were given no way of knowing if our search had matched up records with the correct person. Most background check platforms show you a preview - age, known addresses, aliases, and so on - so that you can determine if it's worth it to sign up. Not here. You'll have to jump right in with a payment of either $26.89 for a one-month recurring membership or $52.44 for a three-month subscription. We were glad to see that the company promises a refund if you're unhappy with your search results, because there's no way of knowing in advance if they're even remotely on target.

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Numerous customer complaints

Despite those guarantees, BeenVerified falls flat on its face when it comes to customer satisfaction, reflected by the company's "B" rating from the BBB. Numerous complaints there and elsewhere describe canceling the service during a trial period (which we never saw being offered), being told that it's been terminated, only to discover later that the monthly fees were still being deducted from bank and credit card accounts. That's unacceptable. Beyond that, many users say that reports from Been Verified are grossly inaccurate, not only missing important records that are known to exist (like arrests) but including details that are just plain wrong. You can't count on any BeenVerified results to be correct.

Costs

  • $26.89/month for 100 reports
  • $52.44 for a 3-month plan, also includes 100 reports/month

Waste of time

BeenVerified comes across as a big waste of time: you'll spend 10-20 minutes just getting to the checkout page, without being given a single indicator of what may be included in your report, and then you may find that it's all inaccurate anyway. And good luck if you think you've successfully canceled your account, because you may still see charges months after the fact. We have a hard time finding anything to recommend about this background check platform, and you'll have a smoother experience with a higher-ranked service.

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Continued from above...

To get to the kinds of records you've probably got in mind, like criminal and court proceedings, you'll have to upgrade to the premium service. That may be included as an add-on to a monthly subscription cost or as a one-off fee each time you conduct a search.

As you consider whether or not to conduct a background check, it's important to understand that some uses are strictly prohibited - and every service will require you to acknowledge those limitations at some point during the process (usually with an "I accept" or "I agree" checkbox). Identified as FCRA (short for Fair Credit Reporting Act), this regulation means that you can't use a background check service to influence decisions on employment, tenant applications, insurance, and several other scenarios. There are a small number of services that offer FCRA compliant searches, but expect to pay accordingly.

No matter which background check service you ultimately select, there's one good reason to visit more than one site: to protect your privacy by requesting that your own records be removed from their listings. Look for a link at the bottom of the site that says "Opt Out" or "Do Not Sell My Information" . From there, you'll either conduct a search for your own records (at no cost) or provide the URL you got when you looked up your own profile previously. Once you click the link sent in a confirmation email, it can take several business days for your info to be deleted (though we've seen it happen almost instantly as well).

With so many platforms offering background checks, which one is right for you? Keep in mind these criteria as you make your decision:

  • Accuracy of Information. Background check services don't guarantee that their reports are accurate: public records can have errors, and with common names it's not unheard of to have incorrectly-attributed results. However, some services have a better reputation for quality data. You may want to search for your own report to get a feel for how on-target your results will be if you do a background check on someone else.
  • Value. What will you get for what you spend? Is there a trial period that lets you test out the background check service before committing to a paid plan? How does that monthly fee compare with rival services?
  • Reputation. What do other customers say about their experience with running background checks with the service? Has the Better Business Bureau given the provider a favorable rating?
  • Customer Support. Some background check services let you get one-on-one help to find the information you need. Are support reps easily reached if you have questions or issues with billing?

To help you get all of the information you need. TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the most popular background search providers available today. Are you ready to find out more about your neighbor, date, or coworker? Choose one of our highest-ranked services and see what you discover!

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Background Check Service FAQ

The information provided by a background check is determined by the service you select. Common details include traffic offenses and arrest records, known addresses and phone numbers, property ownership and court cases. Some of the more thorough services even attempt to track social media profiles and look for the individual's presence on the Dark Web.
That also depends on which provider you use to run the check. Most services make it more affordable to pay for a month of access than to run a one-off report. For example, one service charges $29.95 for a single background check, but $29.89 for a month of unlimited reports! You can take advantage of the longer subscription terms to research to your heart's content!
There are lots of reasons you might want to do a background check. Maybe you're in charge of a membership list that has outdated information and you need to track down the new contact details for a few people. Or you might be curious about your new neighbors and want to get some insights before you reach out (though, honestly, that might be a little creepy!). Background checks can also give you some peace of mind if you're into the online dating thing, to make sure that seemingly nice man or woman really is who they say they are before you meet in person.
Usually just a few minutes. You'll enter the information you have, like name and any known addresses, and then you might be asked to provide other details or confirm preliminary results as a match.
Absolutely! It's a great way to determine what someone else might find if they check YOU out! It can also give you a heads-up if you're going to have a background check done for some official purpose, like applying to be a foster parent or for a job that requires one. If you find something in your results that's inaccurate, it gives you time to get it fixed or to prepare an explanation for your agency or prospective employer.
Yes. You may not use consumer background check services to gather information to make decisions about tenant screening, insurance, employment or consumer credit. These all require FCRA-compliant platforms, which typically involve the consent of the person being screened. If you need a background check for any of these purposes, be sure to choose a service specifically designed to be legal and compliant.
This varies widely by service. Some providers really go to great lengths to return accurate results, while others seem to just scour the internet and dump every remotely-possible match they find. It's a good idea to read reviews and check out a background check provider's reputation before paying to run reports.
Most of the time, there isn't. However, many background check services give you a free trial, ranging from a day or two to a full week. Who knows, you might even be able to get the information you were looking for in that timespan and not need to continue on as a paid subscriber!

The Popularity of Background Checks

Daters are doing it. Neighbors are doing it. Even someone you know may be doing it.

So what is the "it" we're referring to here? Background checks.

With the top three online dating websites making background checks a requirement for using their service, the popularity of conducting such searches continues to grow. Even the government is considering tighter background checks for the purchase of firearms as part of a broader package on gun safety.

Not even social media is exempt from the long-reaching arm of the background check. While a person can make their social media accounts private, and be cautious of what they post about themselves, what they cannot control is what other people post about them. Embarrassing photos from last summer's pool party - where you were holding a beer in each hand as you belly-flopped into the pool - easily can surface on someone else's website or social media account. So even if you think you're being discreet, there is always the chance that someone else is not.

We already know that conducting background checks is becoming popular. But what kind of information frequently is sought out during a background check?

  • Basic Background Check. These kinds of background checks are comprehensive and thorough, revealing such information as a person's date of birth, any marriages/divorces and even if they've ever claimed bankruptcy. It also can include a criminal history, which details any criminal convictions.
  • Criminal Background Check. Sometimes you're not interested in learning about every place someone has lived in their lifetime - or whether they've been married four times in 15 years. Sometimes, the only information that is being sought is a criminal conviction history, which can be obtained through a criminal background check. These checks can be conducted through a number of third-party agencies, which charge from $15 to $40 for their services. Any criminal convictions, including jail time served, will be included in the report.

It's important to understand that sometimes background checks contain inaccurate and misleading information. This can be incredibly frustrating for someone who may be confused with another person of a similar name who has committed a crime. Just as ordering an annual credit report to check for errors is a good idea; it is advisable to occasionally conduct a background check on yourself for the same purposes.

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