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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.
Wednesday, February 1st
PeopleFinders is the best all-around choice for background checks, from basic information searches to comprehensive reports. Each service includes an inexpensive trial and monthly pricing under $30 should you choose to become a member. PeopleFinders has earned a 5-star rating from over 1000 users, and it's our preferred way to get accurate, affordable background checks.
Spokeo's background search engine takes a bit more time at first, but the accuracy of the results make it worth the effort. You'll be able to see if they've matched the person you're looking for, to determine if you should pay for access. You'll only get 150 monthly searches with the membership plan that includes court and historical records, but unless you're a business or LEO that should be more than enough. Spokeo is in our top three picks for effective, accurate background checks.
InfoTracer gives you access to accurate data, an inexpensive week-long trial, and fantastic 24/7 customer service - including search help from their support team, if you need it. The basic search capabilities here are included in an affordable monthly fee, but you'll pay anywhere from $9 to $25 on a per-report basis for the more in-depth searches typically included in a background check. You may want to use a different service if you're researching lots of individuals, but InfoTracer is a provider you can trust either way.
If you need a background search that is FCRA compliant for tenant/employment/volunteer screening, Direct Screening is a great choice. You'll need the individual's SSN, birthdate, and consent to run their report, but you'll only pay for each report you request: no monthly membership fees here. Direct Screening has a good track record with the BBB and is a service you can trust, but it's more limited than most of the background check platforms in our review.
Find Out The Truth puts background checking in the hands of professionals - literally. When you submit a report request here, it can take up to 24 business hours for results because a licensed investigator will personally see to it. Pricing is what you'd expect for such detailed work. The company has an "A+" from the BBB and has been around for over 20 years, but there's not enough feedback from clients to earn Find Out The Truth one of our highest ratings.
When deciding among the four sister sites in our review - US Search, Intelius, Truthfinder and Instant Checkmate - US Search is probably the best route. You won't spend more than $20/month for basic searches, and a five-day trial is only $1.99. Like the other three sites, you'll pay extra to search the kind of records typically included in a background check, and they don't disclose how much that is until you've paid for a trial. But, if you insist on using a PeopleConnect service, this is the least objectionable of the four.
Intelius doesn't really stand out with respect to background checks. Most searching only connects you with the most basic of details, and the service doesn't disclose upfront that you'll have to pay for "premium" database access. As one of four services owned by PeopleConnect (which also includes US Search, Instant Checkmate, and Truthfinder), Intelius shares the same "barely average" rating among providers of background checks.
If all you need is basic information, Truthfinder has several background check options: a one-time fee for a single report, a five-day trial of unlimited basic searches, or subscriptions of 1-2 months. The results here are more accurate than many comparable services, and you'll get a preview sufficient to verify that you've matched up with the right individual's records. Unfortunately, Truthfinder users report that their own background check results are inaccurate, and there are some problems with billing disputes. We don't recommend Truthfinder for performing background checks.
Instant Checkmate has three sister sites, and this is the least favorite among them. You'll pay more here, and searches will take about 20 minutes to run. Our background search returned accurate results, but many users aren't so lucky. Don't sign up for a subscription to this service until you've taken advantage of the five-day trial, because chances are it won't give you the background check details you're expecting.
Short For 15+ years, BeenVerified has offered background check services to everyday consumers. This platform gives you the basics of people, address, and phone number search, plus additional features like vehicle and business lookups. BeenVerified gives no hints as to the results they find for you: you have to jump in and pay for a monthly plan. Users say the reports here are horribly inaccurate, and complain that canceled memberships continue to be charged months later. BeenVerified doesn't get our recommendation.
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:
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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