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Do you want to make sure the person you’re considering going into business with is on the up and up? Or perhaps you want to dig into the background of someone for a personal safety reason. An online background check service can help you save a ton of time searching public records and other sources.
Which ones are the best? And what kind of information can you uncover? We explore what you get when you use online background check companies and give you our reviews of the top services.
- How Do They Work?
- People Search vs Background Check
- Our Top 3 Picks
- What Are My Other Options?
- Tips On Running Background Checks
All of these services search through online third-party databases for the individual you’re looking into. This involves millions of records, which are all publicly available. However, this doesn’t mean all the information they return on an individual is entirely accurate.
For example, some information can be mismatched if two people live in the same city or state with similar names. Incorrect information is a common complaint we see in consumer reviews about all of these services. But that’s just the nature of these services, so keep your expectations in check.
While you can use these services for various reasons, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) legally restricts people from using the services we review here for employment, tenant, credit or scholarship screening.
Many of the sites we review offer both people searches and full background checks, and it’s important to know the difference. Some subscriptions that these sites offer are only for people searches, not full background checks. We’ve noted the differences in each company’s review.
In general, here’s the type of information you can expect to get from each. However, keep in mind this information can vary by company, so make sure you know what you’re paying for before you hand over your credit card information.
- Names and aliases
- Address and phone number
- Address history
- Relatives and associates
- Everything included in a general people search
- Criminal charge history and court records
- Marriage/divorce records
- Civil judgments, bankruptcies, tax liens
- Property records
- Neighbors’ names and addresses
- Social media networks (some include this in people searches, while a select few don’t include it at all)
We based our rankings on several factors, including the user interface, search process, accuracy of information, price and more.
PeopleFinders is our top choice for its easy-to-use interface, accuracy, quick search results, multiple ways to search and affordable prices. You get a decent bit of information for free compared to many services, including age, aliases, some city/state residence history and relatives/associates. This is important because it can help you know you have the right person before forking over your money for a full report.
We also like this service because you can make a one-time report purchase or go with one of their 2 competitively priced subscriptions. A big plus is their 3-day trial for a minimal fee — you just have to remember to cancel before the trial ends, or they’ll begin charging you monthly. We don’t like that they charge a membership cancellation fee, which is pretty unheard of for online services these days.
PeopleFinders offers a 3-day trial at $0.95 for basic people search functions and $3.95 for full background checks.
- Monthly PeopleFinder plan: $24.95/month (includes unlimited searches and 1 background check per month
- Monthly Background Check plan: $29.95/month (unlimited searches)
- $1.95 people search
- $3.95 reverse phone lookup
- $39.95 background report
- View all options
BeenVerified came in a close second to PeopleFinders. It’s easy to use, gets overall good customer reviews for accuracy and has an affordable price tag. It’s also one of the best services if you want employment history — not many sites give you this information.
When they’re running a search, the screen isn’t bogged down with a lot of pop-ups that you get with some other services. And they give you excellent descriptions of the records they search and why this information is important to know.
In addition to background checks, BeenVerified gives you multiple ways to search, including phone, email and address lookups, property owner search, username search and more. While a subscription is required for background checks, you get unlimited searches, and the monthly pricing is better than many other services for just one report. You can cancel a membership at any time.
- $26.89/month for month-to-month subscription
- $52.44 for 3-month subscription
Spokeo is a great online source for people searches and is one of the few that almost every private investigator uses (at least as a starting point). You can also get full background checks for an added fee.
What we really like about this site is that you’re given a good bit of information before they stop and ask for money. This site also focuses on the positives of people searching rather than the dark side. Perhaps because of this, there is some unnecessary (but interesting) information such as looking at search results for famous people.
However, the primary search functions are clear and concise. Prices appear reasonable, and, more importantly, you can actually see those without giving up your email address or taking up your time with a long search.
- $0.95 one-time Name Report (gives you address, email address, phone number, location history, marital status and family members)
- Monthly: $19.95/month
- 3 months: $14.95/month
- Additional $2.95 each to search court and historical records
Instant Checkmate is very similar to Intelius (see our Intelius review above). Although we couldn’t confirm this, it looks like they use Intelius as their database — once you’ve plugged in a query, the page layouts and dialog boxes are nearly identical. However, Instant Checkmate inserts a lot more fluff and annoying pop-ups while they’re running their search, so it takes a lot longer to arrive at the pricing and checkout page.
Pricing is the other big difference between the two services. Instant Checkmate’s subscription price is much higher than Intelius, and they don’t offer a one-time purchase or any kind of trial. We’d recommend going with Intelius over this service for these reasons.
- $34.78/month for month-to-month subscription
- $83.47 for 3-month subscription
- View all options
IntegraScan’s design is more utilitarian than the others; less “flashy” but functional and informative. The dialog box returns to a page with your pricing options and requests additional information (such as a DOB) for the search. You then add to the cart, pay and get the results.
Your options include a statewide or national criminal check or a full background check. We will say that the complete report, albeit pricey, does seem to search many data points that we’re not confident the others would review in the query. That said, it’s hard to know what’s available on a subject because this site offers nothing for free. And you don’t even know if you have the right person until you’ve paid up.
- Statewide criminal background check: $18.95
- Nationwide criminal background check: $28.95
- Full background check: $49.95
- View all options
A leader in the online background check industry, Intelius has a very robust system, and their interface is straightforward with dialog boxes front and center for easy navigation to a search result.
Once you initiate a search, it takes about a minute to land on a page that gives you initial results for free, including aliases, age, a resident location history and possible relatives/associates. Once you click to get the report, they send you through a series of progress bars and a few pop-ups, and, unfortunately, they require you to submit your email address before you can even see their pricing.
While they do require a subscription, their pricing is among the most affordable you’ll find — especially for getting unlimited reports. And you can cancel your subscription at any time. In addition to background checks, they offer reverse phone number lookup and reverse address.
TIP: Be careful when you’re getting ready to order. They say they give you the option of a one-time report for $29, but if you look carefully, the pricing is actually $29/month. So you can end up signing up for a recurring subscription that you didn’t intend to.
- $1.99 for 5-day trial (includes unlimited reports)
- $22.86/month for month-to-month subscription
- $38.86 for 2-month subscription
- Reverse Phone & Address: $0.95
This is BeenVerified’s database dressed up in a nicer suit. Read the BeenVerified review above to get under the hood of this provider.
Compared to the other services we review here, TruthFinder is a relatively new online background check service, founded in 2015. But it’s quickly developed a solid reputation. Unlike many other services, this company offers a dark web search in addition to the regular data.
TruthFinder’s interface is easy to use, but it takes a while to compile the data. And while you’re waiting, they bait you with popups saying things like, “You might be shocked at what this report contains.” It comes across as sketchy, to say the least.
Another potential downside with this service is that you’re required to sign up for a subscription. But while there’s no one-time purchase option, a subscription gives you unlimited full background checks.
TruthFinder doesn’t state exact prices on its website. Instead, it “estimates” them.
- 1 month unlimited: less than $30/month
- 3 month unlimited: less than $26/month
- View all options
Another powerhouse in the business, US Search is well advertised and has a strong ranking in the search engine results. Their parent company is PeopleConnect, which also owns Intelius and Classmates. US Search uses Intelius’ database — for specifics on that, check out the Intelius review above. Their site is very user-friendly and the interface is clean and well-balanced. Like Intelius, minimal information is provided at no cost.
You will get a few basics such as the city/state where the person has resided, maybe an employer and that is it. You can pay a one-time fee for the reports or get a discount if you also sign up for their monthly membership plan ($19.95/month). We do like that they show you the full range of report options and pricing, so you can see and compare all on one page.
- People Search Report: $2.45
- 1-State Criminal Check: $14.95
- Full Background Report: $39.95
- OmniSearch (unlimited people searches): $19.95/month after the 2-day free trial
Without question, there are advantages and disadvantages to using all of these sites. As we said earlier, not all the information you’ll get is guaranteed to be accurate for any of the services we review here. But some are better than others.
To get the most out of your background checks, be sure to read our article on how background checks work, which includes some great tips from our security expert.
Which background check service are you leaning toward and why?
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