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What is the best background check service? Is your new girlfriend as trustworthy as she seems? Does your neighbor have a criminal record? These are just a few of the types of questions that motivate people to want to run a background check.
Background checks have been a regular part of life for many years, letting people to get a better idea of those individuals they interact with. Colleges and universities search social media profiles and work history before awarding scholarships or even granting admission to applicants. Families looking to adopt or be foster parents are checked to make sure there is no history of abuse or neglect.
Sunday, September 19th
If you need a background check - or if you just want to know what information is available about you online - you need to see what Truthfinder has to offer. For nearly 15 years, this business has been helping people find missing family members, check up on prospective spouses, and even protect their own identity online and in person. And, as an "A+" business with the BBB, Truthfinder's reputation is solid.
To get started, you enter the name, city (if known) and state of the person you'd like to find. You'll get to watch Truthfinder's process as it analyzes online profiles, traffic offenses, arrest records, relatives, and many other possible identifying details. You may be asked to verify relationships and other info while it processes; we were asked to click yes or no if the person we were searching had lived in a particular city (she had) and if an individual was her relative (he was). From there, we were taken to a results page that exactly matched the person we entered. Truthfinder showed her name, maiden name, multiple cities in which she'd lived, and four possible relatives. That part of the process took about two minutes.
When we clicked on the option to get our report, we had to answer further questions - you'll want to stay on the screen, because you have a limited time to answer those questions before Truthfinder continues the process without it. This step investigates Key Information, Criminal Records, and Social Media. Next, it goes through a Relative Selector, where you can choose to include possible relatives in your report. You'll see a yellow triangle by a person's name if they may have a criminal or traffic report. Then, you'll need to confirm that you will not use the information for illegal purposes, along with several other verification screens.
We really enjoyed how the Truthfinder background check service educates users on how to make the most out of their membership. Just under the People Search category alone, there are 20 helpful info sections including how to use the search, what's in a report, and a case study for one user's success story.
Truthfinder shares a relationship with Instant Checkmate, another highly-ranked service in our review. However, we found the Truthfinder site to be more thorough and the whole package to be slightly more user-friendly than their sister site.
One perk of membership that we didn't see anywhere else: in addition to unlimited background reports, reverse phone lookups and property searches, members also get access to free Dark Web monitoring. In partnership with credit bureau Experian, this allows Truthfinder to monitor your SSN, email addresses, social network accounts, and many other pieces of personal information to protect you from potential identity theft.
Another plus is Truthfinder's U.S.-based customer service representatives. Most of their competitors outsource their CSRs overseas, but Truthfinder ensures that if you have any questions about the service, from billing to using its features, you'll get someone that clearly speaks your language, 7 days a week.
The comprehensive background check service that Truthfinder provides is matched by their attention to customer satisfaction. When combined with competitve pricing, Truthfinder at the front of the pack when it comes to the best background checks. They earn our highest rating.
While there are a lot of services offering background checks today, some are more thorough than others. Instant Checkmate definitely ranks up there with the best when it comes to checking for information.
One thing that stood out to us about the search process of Instant Checkmate: it has a box you can check if you're searching for your own information. When we checked that box, it asked us questions while the search was running, to help make sure it was coming up with the right records (for example, had we ever lived in a certain city, were we over the age of 30, and even if an individual was a relative). We did find the "Have you ever committed a crime?" question to be a little ominous!
Instant Checkmate found the right records for us, after a search process that took a couple of minutes to complete. We were then asked to answer another set of questions; in total, it took nearly 10 minutes to get to the place where we could order the report generated. There was a big red bar across the page warning us that there were more than 10 criminal records for people associated with our name in our state; given that we have a clear criminal background, that felt a little shady and meant to push us to buy their report.
Digging a little deeper, we found that there are two background check services operated by the same owners: Truthfinder and Instant Checkmate. Both services have solid ratings with the Better Business Bureau, so this is primarily for your own information as you consider which background check service will ultimately get your business.
Pricing was also slightly different between the two, so keep an eye out for the best deal. Pro tip: wait around awhile on the site. You may get a pop-up offering you a full-access, 5-day trial membership for $1.
The BBB has given this service both an A+ rating and accreditation, which is unusual within the industry. We found a higher number of positive reviews for Instant Checkmate than most other background check services on the market; the only thing keeping them from a first-place ranking is their higher prices, compared with their competition.
Since 1998, PeopleFinders has helped everyday people find out more about others in their lives. As part of the Confi-Check, Inc. family of brands, which includes MyRelatives and AreTheyReallySingle, PeopleFinders enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Like most background check services, you'll start by entering the name, city and state (if known) of the person you're searching for. After just a few seconds, you'll be shown any records that look like a good match. Ours was found very quickly, and the initial information we were shown was accurate.
From there, you'll need to get your report, which will include a scan for records involving Location, Property, and Criminal History at county, state, and national levels.
You'll then need to decide if you'd like to pay for a single report ($29.95), a one-month unlimited plan ($19.95), or a three-month unlimited plan ($12.95/month x 3 months). When we waited around on the site a little longer, we also got a pop-up offer for a $2.95 5-day trial and a full report for $1. That's a fantastic way to try the site out and make sure it's what you need, but be sure to read the terms carefully so that you can cancel in time if you decide to.
The reports you pull may include the following, particularly if you have the unlimited plan:
As with most services, the background check information you receive depends on public records databases and other sources; most customers report receiving information that is useful, but some are less than satisfied with the details they get once they pay for a report. Fortunately, PeopleFinders is priced affordably, and given that they have a solid A+ grade with the Better Business Bureau, you shouldn't expect huge problems if you should need to cancel the service.
When it comes to background checks, Been Verified goes deep. After a process lasting about two minutes, they found the record we were searching for, including correct phone numbers and email addresses.
Once our report was processed, we got a pop-up offering a discount of 15% off their published prices. Even with that discount, their prices are a little higher than some of the services in our review, but not by much.
One perk is that Been Verified offers mobile public data access: in other words, you can meet someone and process a search for them right then and there (although that may be a little creepy). We also like their Dos and Don'ts page that illustrates the ways you can use their service. Finding lost loves, verifying potential roommates, and checking out online buyers/sellers all get the OK; looking up a babysitter, stalking a crush, and contacting people against their wishes are on the no-go list.
Been Verified has a "B" rating with the Better Business Bureau, the primary reason being given as "business has failed to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints". The majority of these complaints aren't about the service itself, but more about customer service. Specifically, customers said that there were hidden fees for searching extra counties, and that when they tried to cancel they were given an extra free month - and then their subscription was continued without their permission.
This provider is one of the few services we found that offered a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back - it just may take some very insistent phone calls and personal follow-up to make sure that your account is actually cancelled and your refund is processed.
US Search is an alternate business name of Intelius, another service in our review: they are both owned by parent company PeopleConnect and share a listing with the Better Business Bureau.
Surprisingly, we found the search experience on US Search to be easier to use than the Intelius interface. When we entered our name and city/state, we did get a display of information that helped us confirm that the record matched the person we were looking for, including aliases, relatives, and address history. On that page, it said that a background check report would include these items:
Here's where we got lost: when we clicked on the button to get our report, it said that when you buy a basic background check report through US Search for $19.95, it includes the following:
For an additional $5, you can access a nationwide (43-state) criminal search as well.
You may notice that several things that were described on the first list (such as email address, home value, and social network search) are not listed in the two options on the "add to cart" page. As it turns out, you'll have to add the social network search for an extra $12.95 if you opt for a single background check.
As you can see, US Search's pricing isn't very clear. The regular prices for the basic and nationwide criminal search were $19.95 and $24.95, respectively, but there was a 25% discount offered with a trial of their OmniSearch product. According to the site, OmniSearch does give you those missing items (social network, address history, and so forth) for a monthly fee of $19.95. You'll get a 2-day trial if you opt for the 25% discounted price on the background check report described earlier.
We appreciate the enhanced search results offered by US Search, compared with Intelius, and the fact that both companies have an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau is a plus. But, US Search's confusing pricing and expensive add-ons make them less attractive than many of the other services we considered.
Intelius is part of the PeopleConnect family of products, which also includes the Classmates brand. Their services include people search, reverse phone lookup, background checks, and identity theft protection services.
Our experience with Intelius was very frustrating. First, when we entered several names, we got an error message and were told to try again later. We did that a number of times and continued to get the same message, so as the error page directed, we called the toll-free number. The automated voice thanked us for calling "Customer Service" - not mentioning Intelius or any other company's name - and connected us to a representative to told us to "try again in one hour". Several hours after our first attempt, we were able to search several names.
But, the pricing we received differed based on the name we entered. One name returned the prices listed at the top of the review: $19.95 to $49.95. Then for a different individual, we were given the options of a $39.95 one-time report, or "Premier Plus". This last offer confused us: "Try Intelius Premier Plus, and if you cancel within the first 7 days and have not yet used a background check voucher you pay only $7.95 . Otherwise, you will receive 1 background check voucher per month and be charged $29.95 each month you remain a member. Each voucher will expire in 30 days, if not used."
When we went to leave the site, we got a pop-up offering a discounted price of $24.95 for a background check, so there may be additional ways to save money if you decide to use Intelius' services.
According to the Intelius site, their background report includes the following:
But, unlike many services we tried, there was no way to see if the record we would be buying was a match with the person we were searching for. We entered the name, city, and state, which took us directly to a "buy report" page; Intelius' competitors usually show details like previous addresses, likely relatives, and even estimated age to help customers determine if the person is a match.
We like that Intelius has a long track record within the industry, and their "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau is a good indicator of attention to detail and to customer service. Unfortunately, this reputation wasn't enough to overcome the less-than-impressive experience we had with using the service, especially compared with other background checks currently on the market. We think most customers will get better results using one of the other services in our review.
Gov Registry has been around for almost 15 years. According to their site, they offer a monthly membership of $19.95 that includes access to more than 1 billion records such as Sex Offender checks, Address Histories, and Civil Judgments.
The Gov Registry site feels outdated and clunky to use. When we searched for our own information, we did get a list of 53 records of people with our name in our state of residence. The column including age information had no information for any of the records, just filler text. And, while it did tell us the various cities that each individual had lived in, there was no way to know if the record it came up with from our city was the record that matched us.
Interestingly, when we clicked on the "Buy Report" button, it took us to a checkout page for another service in our review: Info Tracer. The Info Tracer service is much more comprehensive than what we found on the Gov Registry site; plus, it would seem to make more sense to work with Info Tracer directly rather than going through the Gov Registry site.
Especially given that the copyright date for the Gov Registry site was listed as 2013, it seems safe to say that you're more likely to get the information you need by going directly to Info Tracer or, better yet, one of the other up-to-date background check services in our review.
Verispy has been in business for more than 15 years and, according to the site, has helped nearly 8 million users since the company's start.
What does Verispy include with a background check? Assuming the information is available/located, the report gives the following:
How did they perform on our background check? While Verispy did come up with a long list of people with our requested name in our state, it was impossible to tell if they had actually located our records. With some services, you're able to see associated addresses for the individual you're investigating; unfortunately, there was nothing in the records Verispy came up with to tell us for sure that they'd found our specific information - only the right name, age and state but nothing else to confirm it was a match. We would have to pay to access the report(s) to figure out which one was ours.
Paying for a one-week subscription ($24.95) or one-month plan ($29.95) would give us unlimited access to reports, so we could find the one that we were requesting - but that price is considerably higher than other services we reviewed.
We also found that Verispy had a "B+" grade with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review; many customers report subscribing only to be told that there are "no results" for the names they've searched, and that getting the subscription cancelled can be difficult.
We recommend that you choose one of the higher-ranked background check services in our review, because Verispy doesn't seem to deliver on their promise to help you "investigate people".
Info Tracer is part of the Accucom Corporation family of brands, which includes InfoPay, CriminalPages, and Everify. The company has been in business for 14 years.
We were glad to see that Info Tracer does offer enough information after the initial search to make it easy to confirm that the right record has been found. When we searched for our desired individual, we were able to see previous cities of residence, age, and associated family members that were all accurate. From there, we were given the option of purchasing a one-time report or accessing an unlimited search pass.
According to the site, a one-time report may include the following:
When you access the 5-day trial and/or purchase a monthly subscription, you also gain access to these services:
Missing from those lists are social media searches; many of today's highest-rated background check services do include a deep search for any associated Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts for the individual in question.
All of this sounded great: thorough, reasonably priced, and an available 5-day trial. And, when we saw that Info Tracer's parent company is accredited with the BBB and maintained an A+ rating, we were encouraged. That is, until we started reading customer reviews. These reviews were almost unanimously negative, spanning multiple years. The most frequently seen complaint was that, after purchasing a report, there were no actual results: customers similar to us, who found enough information in the initial results to know that it was a match to their search, but after paying were then told that there was nothing available. In fact, one review we found even mentioned a possible class action lawsuit against Info Tracer and its parent company, because of situations exactly like that.
We're not sure how Info Tracer is in such good standing with the BBB, given how many negative reports we found in multiple places. We strongly recommend you select a different service for any background checks you need.
Warning: You may not use these services or the information they provide to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance.
Much of this information is also available to you through services offering background checks. Maiden names and aliases, cities of residence, even criminal and legal history are just a few of the types of information people can find when using these services.
You should be aware that, no matter which service you use, the results rendered are only as accurate as the public records databases which they use. The accuracy of this information is one of the factors that differentates the background check providers.
As you decide which background check service best meets your needs, keep in mind the following criteria:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best background check services available today. We hope these reviews help you find what - and who - you're searching for!
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?
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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