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Monday, September 26th
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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