In recent years, the market has exploded with all different kinds of background check companies. As such, we’ve created this review guide to help you find the one that’s right for you. Whether you want to track down a long-lost relative or double-check, you can trust the neighbor with a copy of your house key; there’s something here for everyone. So join us as we take a close look at the best background check services of 2021.
Top Background Check Services: First Look
- All-round best background check service – TruthFinder
- Most accurate background check service – Intelius
- Feature-rich background check tool – Instant Checkmate
- Best for finding friends and relatives – Spokeo
- Most affordable background checks – US Search
- Most detailed background check reports – Been Verified
1. TruthFinder – All-Round Best Background Check Site
- Reports contain lots of info
- Detailed explanations
- Available as an app
- Easy to navigate
- More costly than some competitors
TruthFinder has a great name. It’s also a fairly comprehensive tool that gives you access to both public and private databases. But TruthFinder goes further than some of the other services we’ve seen and deserves our award for “All-Round Best” background check service.
For example, TruthFinder lets you learn more about individuals’ connections – such as their relatives and associates. It even comes with a self-monitoring tool that shows you what information of yours exists in the databases. This is ideal if you want to see what potential landlords and employers can find out about you.
It just lets you stay one step ahead of the game.
Naturally, because it’s feature-rich, TruthFinder is pricey and is therefore only recommended to anyone who wants to dig deep. This makes it especially useful for anyone who wants to delve into their past and track down someone they’ve lost all contact with.
For instance, it comes with a unique family tree feature that lets you learn more about relatives – including those you’ve never met!
Public and private databases? Both
2. Intelius – Most Accurate Background Check Service
- Accurate reports
- User-friendly website
- Top-rated professional background screeners
- Great at finding old friends
- Trial offer is a tad complex
Intelius is one of the more expensive background check companies, but that’s largely because it offers more features. In fact, it goes deeper than most other tools of this type, bringing up information on an individual’s past addresses, financial information, criminal past, educational history, social media, and more.
Indeed, if you want to gain a rounded, complete view of a person, Intelius is a solid option. But while it’s especially useful for finding out facts about people you know, Intelius says its service is ideal for those who want to connect with old buddies.
We also like the fact that the service is fast, the searches are in-depth and confidential, AND you can choose the type of background check you want to include. We’re not overly enthusiastic about the price, but nice visuals and a social network viewer are big pluses.
PR databases? Both
3. Instant Checkmate – Feature-Rich Background Check Tool
- 5-day trial period available
- Simple user interface
- More than 1,000,000 searches
- Available on smartphones and tablets
- Reputable background check company
- Reports could load faster
If you want a service that’s easy to use but doesn’t deliver results in an instant, Instant Checkmate might be for you. Its name is a little misleading because results aren’t “instant,” but the search options are really easy and quick to use. In fact, you can find an individual based on just three things: their state, city, and name.
Moreover, with a reverse phone lookup feature that lets you find out who’s just called you, Instant Checkup has a number of strings to its bows and can be used for a variety of searches.
However, the tool is so simple that it only scans public records. This means it doesn’t let you access info that you can’t find elsewhere. On the positive side, it offers a huge amount of information, such as criminal records, bankruptcies, sexual offenses, court records, and contact details. As a people search finder, it’s one of the highest-rated.
Public and private databases? Public databases
4. Spokeo – Best For Verifying People’s Identity
- Free features
- Results generated quickly
- Clean user interface
- Excellent search tools
- In-depth searches require patience
If you want to find someone you’ve lost touch with, such as a relative or an old friend (or even an ex-partner from years gone by), Spokeo is a popular choice for that sort of thing. Some users will find it’s a lot of fun for finding information/gossip on celebrities, too.
With Spokeo, you can find legitimate background information such as their past addresses, civil judgments, and contact details. It can also be used to find out who called you, whether or not your date is who they say they are, and what your new neighborhood is like (yes, you can use Spokeo to research your new neighbors).
However, since the tool isn’t FCRA accredited, it’s not recommended when it comes to things like insurance screening, employee background checks, and credit checks. And while Spokeo gets its data from a variety of sources such as mailing lists, public records, and social media profiles, it doesn’t delve into private databases.
Like a lot of background check services, Spokeo offers a number of different membership options. Instead of purchasing a single report, you can choose whether to pay month-by-month or buy a years’ worth of the service.
Public and private databases? Public databases
5. US Search – Most Affordable Background Checks
- Uses 40+ technology services
- Extremely credible (founded over 25 years ago)
- Easy to navigate site
- Site needs a refresh
If you’re operating on a budget, US Search is one of the best background check companies for you. Prices start at under $40 at the time of writing, making this one of the cheapest tools of its type that we’ve seen. Search results are free, too, with the only thing you need to pay for being a full report on the person you’re looking for.
We think that’s a pretty good deal. And despite its budget offering and lack of unlimited background checks, US Search lets you search according to email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and names. You can also locate a person’s social media handles. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to track down a long-lost relative.
However, what really gives its low price point away is its basic web design. If you can get past that (and it shouldn’t be too hard), US Search offers a decent service along with different subscription packages. Their reports are also updated each day, and the site has been around for over 20 years.
Public and private databases? Public
6. Been Verified – Most Detailed Background Check Reports
- Detailed background reports
- Pricing model is very straightforward
- Mobile app available
- Excellent customer support
- No free trial
Been Verified is a bit of a hit-and-miss background check service that left us a tad frustrated. On the one hand, it gives you access to all kinds of data and records, including FBI data, civil records, court records, consumer reporting agencies, and court records.
On the surface, then, it’s a great service for helping you assess who you’re dealing with and whether they’re truthful about their past.
However, on the flip side, crucial information is missing from the reports, such as traffic violations and weapon licenses. Frustrating.
But while that’s a strike against Been Verified, it’s the unclaimed property search function that will prove indispensable to some. You can also search for yourself to see what’s in your report. Employment history is especially detailed, and there are different monthly subscription and yearly subscription plans on offer.
Another key feature, meanwhile, is the reverse phone lookup feature which lets you find out who called or texted you.
Public and private databases? Public
Why You Should Run a Background Check
Essentially, background checks are useful because they give you a better picture of who you’re dealing with. You can use a tool to delve into both public and private databases and determine whether a person is telling you the truth or not. They work quickly and offer up detailed, accurate reports.
Background checks simply offer peace of mind, save you from future trouble, AND ensure you don’t end up in legal hot water. You can run a background check to:
- Track down a long lost relative or friend
- Verify you can trust a new friend or date met online (look up their social media handles and even their phone number)
- Review your own background information before an important interview
- Lookup spam phone calls, email addresses, and so on
- Learn more about a potential tenant (credit history, civil court record, social security number, etc.)
- Perform employee background checks (drug screening/drug testing, driving record, education history, possible sex offender, criminal history, etc.)
Just be aware that a site must be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for any checks related to employee and tenant screening to be done legally. For example, sites like TruthFinder are not FCRA accredited and should not be used by employers who want to carry out employee screenings.
Best Background Check Services: FAQ
Is It Against the Law To Do a Personal Background Check?
It isn’t against the law to do a personal background check, no. But it’s a good idea to ask permission before carrying out a background check because it reduces the risk they may sue you.
How Much Does a Background Check Service Cost?
There’s no fixed answer to this because background check sites charge their own fees. However, what’s worth mentioning is that most services don’t charge per report but instead offer subscription packages. This is what the likes of Spokeo and Instant Checkmate offer.
However, you should also be aware that most tools charge extra for specific data.
Moreover, costs vary depending on the service itself. TruthFinder, for example, is on the pricier end of the spectrum, while US Search is much more budget-friendly.
What Should I Look For in Background Check Sites?
There are several features you should look for when choosing your next best background check tool. These include:
- Accurate reports
- Value for money
- Customer support
- Additional features: Such as reverse phone lookup, sex offender search, and more.
- FCRA Compliant: Only necessary for employee checks or tenant screening.
What Does a Typical Background Check Do?
A background check simply seeks to verify or confirm the claims made by an individual. For example, you can use a service to verify your date, new neighbor, or anyone else you’re a little bit suspicious of is who they say they are. You could even run background checks on yourself.
What Other Types of Background Checks Are There?
Employment Background Checks: If you’re an employer looking to hire a new candidate, it’s always a smart idea to vet them properly before giving them the job via an employment background screening. However, you can also use a background check tool to monitor current employers if you think they might be up to something – but the tool must be FCRA compliant.
Criminal Background Checks: If you want to verify you’re trusting the right people, whether friends, new acquaintances or even relatives, a criminal background check is perfect for looking up an individual’s criminal history. Instant Checkmate, for instance, brings up highly detailed reports on an individual and lets you search criminal records, sexual offenses, court records, and more.
That said, other services may charge you extra for performing county, state, and federal criminal record background checks, so this is something to look out for when choosing which site to use.
Credit Background Checks: Credit background checks are typically performed by a landlord who wants more information on a potential tenant. A credit check tells you how the person in question has managed their bill payments and overall credit in the past. This then lets you know how likely said person will make financial obligations on time.
Best Background Check Services: The Takeaway
Choosing a background check service helps you find what you’re looking for as quickly as possible. You can use the tool to confirm someone’s identity, which then helps you to make a better decision regarding what to do next.
Although TruthFinder is our top pick for its extensiveness and accuracy, it’s important that you weigh up the pros and cons of each service and what they offer before making your final decision.
Have you tried out any of our top picks? What information were you able to uncover?
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