Everyone has skeletons in the closet. Now, not all of those skeletons will be relevant to you. But there may be something that lets you know whether you should trust that person or not. Naturally, you want to find out what these details may be. Aside from hiring a pirate investigator or doing your own Google search, there’s one more option open to you – a background check service.
This kind of service allows you to get hard-to-find information on a person without having to spend hours digging online. And the report you get is in an easy-to-read format to boot. However, you can’t really just go ahead and hire the first company you see. After all, you really can’t trust strangers these days. To help you out, we decided to look over each of the popular companies in the market to see if we can put our money (and yours too!) where their mouth is. Below are the companies that earned our trust.
Top 5 Background Check Services of 2018 Reviewed
- Top 5 Background Check Services of 2018 Reviewed
- How to Get the Best Background Check Service
1. BeenVerifiedBest Background Check For the Money
BeenVerified is our number one pick for several reasons. First of all, it has an incredibly informative website that lets you know what you can and can’t do with the information they provide. The FAQ is very detailed as well including the Opt Out instructions. There are two plans offered: a 1-month membership for $26.89 per month and a 3-month membership that costs $17.48 per month.
The membership benefits are:
- Background reports
- Contact information
- Phone lookups
- Email lookups
- Address lookups
- Criminal records
- Notification when the reports change
The background reports include:
- Age Search
- Location Search
- Relatives Search
- Phone # Search
- Email Search
- Criminal Records Search
- Photos & Social Media
And if you need someone to pull actual court records because it has not yet been digitized, BeenVerified offers a unique Court Runner Service where you hire a real live person to go directly to the courthouse to do it for you. As an added bonus, the service is available in Android devices, iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. However, you’ll need to take into account that using this service requires you to become a member first. Also, there’s no trial option so you can’t test the quality of the report at a much lower price.
- Multiple search options
- Mobile apps
- Most affordable monthly subscription
- Mandatory membership
- No trial offered
2. TruthFinderBest Detailed Background Check
If you truly want to know everything about a person, there’s no better background check service than TruthFinder. Aside from the usual information, this service allows you to access a person’s hunting and fishing licenses, weapons’ permits, professional licenses, etc. There’s even a Dark Web Scan which allows you to check if your information has been sold on the Dark Web. And if it hasn’t, you can get free Dark Web Monitoring through your membership.
The website is very transparent about the Do’s and Don’ts of online background checks. The FAQ is also very thorough which ticks all of our requirements for transparency. Other search options available through TruthFinder includes reverse lookup and public record searches which include criminal records and driving records.
|1 Month Membership||3 Month Membership||Phone Number Lookup Plan|
|Price||$27.78||$69.07||under $2 per month|
|Features||unlimited standard background reports||unlimited standard background reports||unlimited phone reports|
A background report may include information such as:
- Birth and death records
- Possible relatives
- Possible associates, friends, roommates, and even exes
- A detailed location history report
- Contact information
- Criminal, arrest, and traffic records
- Education and jobs
- Social media profiles
- Dating profiles
- Assets (including owned properties and driven vehicles)
Aside from all their services, TruthFinder offers 24/7 customer support, an extensive troubleshooting section, and an Android app. So, any drawbacks? Similar to BeenVerified, there’s no free trial and membership is mandatory. And while the FAQ is pretty detailed, it seemed hard to get exactly what you’re going to pay per month and what you’ll be getting for that payment (though we did finally figure it out). Lastly, it’s only available on Android devices. Sorry, Apple peeps.
- Dark Web Scan
- Very detailed report
- Transparent on legal uses of information
- Android only
- Mandatory membership
- No trial option
3. Instant CheckmateBest Background Check for Dating
With Instant Checkmate, you are also required to subscribe to a monthly service which costs $34.78 for 1 month and $83.47 for 3 months. With your subscription, you can get access to an unlimited number of Standard Reports which may contain the following information:
- Personal information
- Related Persons
- Contact details
- Location history
- Criminal and arrest records
- Traffic violations
- Vehicle information
- Social media profiles
- FAA pilot licenses
- DEA controlled substance licenses
- Nearby sex offenders
- Horoscope information
You can perform searches on public records using the various search options available on the site which include reverse phone lookup, email search, and location search. The company also offers additional resources for free: criminal records database, instant checkmate glossary, people directory database, an inmate search. The report is very easy to read with its neat and attractive format. The information available is accurate. But it is limited. If you want a more comprehensive report, you can upgrade to a Premium report for $19.99 (for each report). The information in the report may include:
- Civil Judgments
- Corporate Affiliations
- Watercraft Owned
- UCC Filings
- Properties Owned
- Voter Registration
- Old Phone Numbers
- Email Addresses
- Tax Liens
- Professional Licenses
- Hunting/Fishing Permits
- Weapons Permits
- Aircraft Owned
- Business Associates
You can also avail of unlimited Email Reports that will include, when available, a person’s name, address history, related persons, social media profiles including additional email addresses, and professional networking information. However, the main drawbacks of Instant Checkmate is a biggie – you need to call their hotline to cancel your subscription. Both of our previous picks allows you to easily cancel your membership online without having to talk to anyone.
- Neat and attractive report
- Comprehensive information available
- Easy to use website
- The comprehensive report requires additional payment
- Call hotline to cancel membership
4. US Search
US Search offers a lot of similar services compared to all our other picks – reverse phone lookup, email search, social network search, property records, criminal records, etc. Its Background Check Service provides you with information that it gathers from various public records including:
- Vital statistics, like birth, death, marriages, and divorces
- Records for buying and selling owning real estate and registered assets
- Criminal records, primarily convictions, and incarcerations or sex offender registration
- Civil court proceedings, like civil judgments and bankruptcies
- Tax liens
- Professional and business licenses
- Current contact information and previous addresses
- Social Media
Unlike all our other picks, you don’t need to become a member to request for a background check. This is perfect if you only plan to do this once or twice every couple of months. Instead, you get to perform a search on the website and purchase the report. There are two kinds of reports available: the Basic Background Check and the Instant Nationwide Criminal Search.
Basic Background Check: $19.95
- Full Name
- Current Address
- Phone Numbers
- Address History
- Enhanced Relatives
- Associates Plus
- State Criminal Search
Instant Nationwide Criminal Search: $24.95
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Address History
- Relatives & Associates
- Case number and charge
- Offense Details
- Arrest Details
- Filing Date
- Sentence & Date
- Results from 43 States
US Search also offers a monthly subscription for those who want to perform unlimited people and phone searches on the website. This service is called OmniSearch which provides you with two kinds of reports:
- Names associated with the phone number
- Addresses associated with the phone number
- Phone Carrier
- Carrier Location
- Ability to pull People Search report on every name included in the phone report without extra charge
People Search Reports:
- Full Name & Aliases
- Contact Information
- Address History
- Social Networks
With the People Search Report, you can pay additional fees for more information:
- Add National Criminal ($19.95)
- Add Marriage & Divorce Records ($2.95)
- Add Property Records ($4.95)
- Add Email Addresses ($2.95)
- Add Enhanced Relatives Search ($4.95)
- Add Enhanced Associates Search ($2.95)
But if you really only need 1 report, you can get a People Search Report for only $2.45 and a 1-State Criminal Check for only $14.95. There’s definitely a load of information available to you through the reports. And we love that you don’t need to commit to a membership if you don’t need the service that much. However, the FAQ isn’t as detailed as we’d like. It is not as transparent in the Do’s and Don’ts of background checks as some of our other picks. And there isn’t a mobile app available.
- A lot of information available in the report
- No membership required
- No trial option
- FAQ isn’t detailed
- No mobile app
Intelius offers a wide variety of services for people looking for information. You can perform an initial free background check on an individual that allows you to find his/her age, addresses, work history, educational history, and relations. For $49.95, you can get a more comprehensive report that will include the following:
- contact information
- state criminal check
- marriage & divorce
You can also purchase an Intelius Premier membership which costs $19.95 per month and allows you unlimited searches by name, phone, and email address. You enjoy instant results provided to you in an easy-to-read format. If you’re not sure if the service will be worth your money, you can enroll for a trial month which is offered at a discounted price – $9.95. If you don’t plan on using the service for an entire month, you can also avail of the 24-hour People Search Pass ($19.95) which allows you to search for an unlimited number of people for 24 hours.
The reports will include the individual’s full name, address, age & DOB, phone number, relatives, and address history. You can purchase criminal, property, and SSN searches separately. Aside from all that, you can also avail of their on-site court records and on-site civil record searches.
Through these two services, you can get a professional researcher to physically compile the most accurate information straight from the source. The main drawback of Intelius is that it’s pretty expensive. Another is the fact that though they’re transparent about the legal uses of the information they provide, they don’t spell it out for customers.
- Various services and plans offered
- Trial option
- On-site court and civil records searches
- Does not fully explain the legal uses of information
How to Get the Best Background Check Service
The beauty of the internet is that you can be whoever you want to be online. The ugly part of the internet is that you can never tell if someone is who they say they are. The same goes for people you meet in person. If you want to be sure your neighbor, potential roommate, or Tinder date is legit, then you’ll need to do a background check. Of course, you can easily do a Google search. There are several public databases and records to be found online. But to get all the information to be found and save time, you’ll need someone else to do it for you.
However, you don’t want to shell out money only to get the information you could have gotten on your own with just a few clicks. You want quality, right? Who doesn’t?! So, the question is, how does one make sure that you’ve hired the right background check service for your “investigative” needs? This guide is here to help.
Why do you need a background check done?
There are several reasons why you want a background check run on someone. We’ve already listed several. You want to make sure your neighbors are in the up-and-up before you let your kids play with their kids. You want to filter out the bad seeds before you go out and date them. You want to make sure that your roommate isn’t going to run out with the rent money and leave you hanging. You want to ensure that your potential business partner isn’t going to put you out of business.
Even landlords and companies require background checks performed. You may need to screen potential hires to ascertain that they won’t result in a lot of liability in the future such as checking the driving record of someone who will be driving your delivery van. The same goes for people who will potentially be responsible for keeping people safe such as security guards, medical professionals, and the like. Landlords may need to screen potential tenants to ensure they will comply with the rental agreement and not have problems paying the rent.
What information will a background check reveal?
There’s a lot of information that could be gathered about a person online and from public records. Of course, not all reports will contain the same information. Some background checks conducted are quite comprehensive. The following is a list of possible information that can be present in the report:
- Credit report
- Driving records which include traffic violations and DUI incidents, etc.
- Criminal background information including sex offenses
- Educational history
- Drug testing
- Work history
- Social security check
- Litigation records
- Property records
- Contact information
- Military service records
- Marriage and divorce records
- Social media use
Is this legal?
Ok, so this is where it can get dicey. First of all, online background checks are used for informational purposes only. More on that later. Background checks used for tenant screening and pre-employment screening can only be performed by consumer reporting agencies that must be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Using online background checks for employment decisions (hiring, firing, or declining an applicant), determining someone’s tenancy, and verifying someone’s eligibility for credit or insurance is illegal and may just get you sued for discrimination.
In fact, before you can even pay for the background check, you’ll need to gain the written permission of the individual. In addition, any adverse action you take after receiving the report such as rejecting an application will require you to provide a copy of the report that was compiled by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Take note that laws governing background checks may differ between states. For example, some states prohibit the use of motor vehicle records for pre-employment screening. So do your due diligence before you even think about looking for a company to do your “dirty” work.
Now, what are informal purposes? Well, these are more personal reasons for having the history of a person investigated. These include:
- checking up on your new neighbor,
- investigating a potential date
- search for a long-lost relative or friend
- find out who’s been calling your number
- look up what information about you is discoverable online
- Find sex offenders living in your neighborhood
- Investigate an online seller
- Check out potential roommates
In short, the main purpose of an online background check is to satisfy your curiosity and keep you and your family safe. BeenVerified is one of the services that have a very detailed list of what you can and can’t do with the information they gather if ever you need a reminder.
So, how do I choose between the various background checks offered online?
Obviously, you can do your own digging online. But not all public records can be accessed online nor are they all free. What this means is that you won’t know for sure if the information you get is complete and accurate. Fragmented information could lead you to make false assumptions and conclusions. And we haven’t even talked about the time it’ll take for you to do all this work. Now that we’ve established why you should let the professionals handle this kind of job, let’s get down to what you should look for when it comes to online background checks.
#1: How much is the fee?
While a lot of the companies offer a “free” search, they’re essentially just helping you confirm that the information you currently have is correct – name, location/address, and age. What you need to check is how much do you need to pay to get the company to do a background check on someone and what information will you get in the report. Most companies offer several plans for you to choose from. Some will offer a monthly membership that grants you three monthly reports while others will offer a monthly subscription for unlimited searches. Remember, don’t always go for the cheapest option because you want quality screening. Take note that some do offer a low-cost 3-day or 5-day trial which can help you decide whether the service they provide is worth it.
#2: Is the company transparent?
You want to hire a company that is transparent on how they get the information for you and clearly states how the information they gather can and cannot be used by their customers. Also, it’s important to remember that there’s no third party that’s going to be verifying the accuracy of the information in the report. This is why you need to make sure that the company you do end up choosing is known for the accuracy of the information it provides.
#3: What are the services offered?
Good background check websites not only help you locate people by entering their name and city/state. They also provide you with various search options such as reverse lookup, email search, social network search, property records, etc. Also, make sure that the company you choose provides the services you need such as a criminal background check, a personal background check, drug screening, and credit reports.
#4: How long does it take to get results?
A standard check shouldn’t take more than a couple of days for a reputable background check service. Make sure that the company isn’t known for its delays. More importantly, make sure that the company has good customer service that will be easy to get a hold of and information regarding your account and reports.
#5: Extra features?
Some extra features that you may want to have are easy-to-read reports, online background checks, and mobile apps. The availability of mobile apps allows you to perform searches on the go or read reports wherever you may be.
Once you’ve made the decision on which service to use, you can rest easy. After all, you’re getting peace of mind with each report you receive. Just remember, knowledge is a dangerous thing. You need to use what you learn responsibly.