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Best Background Check Services of 2021

Whether you’re in the process of a new hire, considering starting a new relationship, or even curious to see what is public under your own name, performing a background check is never a bad idea. Although services like these have existed for decades, only recently has this technology been available to the masses. From the comfort of your home, with the click of a button you can perform a background check with certainty, feeling confident that your decision is the right one. 

As the demand for background checks has grown, new companies have emerged, offering a variety of services for affordable prices. This article will identify the top performing background check websites, examining all they have to offer. The goal is to highlight the pros and cons of each service in an easy to understand manner so that you can make an informed purchase. So, without further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Top 7 Background Check Services

  1. Spokeo—First Choice
  2. Truthfinder—Reliable Results
  3. Peoplefinders—Honorable Mention
  4. Instant Checkmate—Great Free Resources
  5. Intelius—Respected Alternative
  6. BeenVerified—Well Known Brand
  7. US Search—Easy to Use Website 

The brands on this list have a tremendous responsibility to their customers. With this in mind, here is a checklist composed of specific criteria and standards for each brand. The expectation is that they meet and exceed all requirements to qualify, with no exceptions. Below are the facts analyzed:

  • Affordability
  • Accuracy
  • History & Reputation
  • Usability
  • Customer Service
  • Database Size
  • Compliance

With a variety of features and price plans to work with, you stand to lose little but gain the world by taking advantage of the information these organizations are presenting you with.

Spokeo—First Choice

Pros:

  • Inexpensive with a variety of plans to choose from
  • The website is easy to understand and use
  • The site offers a mobile app
  • The site has access to over 12 billion public records

Cons:

  • The information gained cannot be used for purposes under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Created in 2006, Spokeo was originally a social network aggregator. The site officially changed directions in 2010, launching a people search engine that has garnered over 20 million monthly visitors. The site currently has more than 18 million users and answers more than 500,000 searches per day. This influx of activity is partially due to the more than 12 billion records that the company has accumulated through thousands of sources.

New visitors to the site are allowed a snapshot of what they could gain with a subscription using the quick search on the website’s landing page.

Spokeo’s search engines provide reports that include:

  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Location
  • Full names
  • Education Level
  • Relatives

Spokeo places emphasis on the use of its services to reconnect lost family members and friends. The website can also be used to check information on criminal backgrounds that includes pending criminal cases, past and present convictions alongside offense locations. The site includes an optional service that allows users to access court records such as citation and misdemeanors, at an additional cost.

Spokeo offers several additional features along with its people search engine, these include:

  1. Spokeo Connections This feature groups information about friends, family members or acquaintances and imports them as an address book. Spokeo Connections allows Spokeo to update various sources of information regarding the person or persons indicated. This service includes updating social media accounts, names and potential locations.
  2. Spokeo Identity Protection – This Spokeo feature monitors the member’s information and alerts them if the information is detected on the Dark Web, as this is usually an indication that personal information has been compromised or sold.

Among the other background check services, Spokeo stands out as one of the cheapest available.

A standard one-month subscription costs $19.95 per month, and a 3-month plan is $14.95 per month. However, Spokeo’s truly competitive rates occur on individual searches.
A full name report with a special offer free trial membership costs only $0.95. This report includes current address, phone number, email address and location history.
Without the offer of free trial membership, a Spokeo name report costs as little as $1.95.

With such low costs, it is no wonder why Spokeo is ranked as the Best Price selection on the list.

Learn more at Spokeo.com

Truthfinder—Most Accurate Background Checks

Pros:

  • Provides the most accurate background check information
  • Has a mobile app available for both Android smartphones and iPhones
  • Unlimited background checks for paying members

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than competitors

Launched in 2015, Truthfinder claims to be among America’s most trusted background checkers. A claim that is supported by the 9.5 million sessions that the service runs every month. 

Truthfinder maintains an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau, lending evidence to its overall effectiveness.

Truthfinder has access to millions of public records and gives the promise to search deeper than the average background check site, delving into the Deep Web to unearth as much information as possible.

Advanced background checks run by Truthfinder provide a wealth of information, streamlined and ready for consumption. Truthfinder has eliminated the mass of unhelpful reports that customers usually have to dig through and instead, provides factors such as:

  • Birth Records
  • Contact Information
  • Traffic Records
  • Education
  • Criminal Records
  • Relatives
  • Location History
  • Assets
  • Dating Profiles

To list just a few categories of information that the site will provide.

In addition, not only does Truthfinder provide information on criminal records, but customers have also been able to gain records of cases that didn’t result in a fine or sentence.

Alongside the available background checks, Truthfinder offers resources such as Reverse Phone Lookups, to give you information on the identity of an unknown caller. Reverse Phone Lookup reports may not only include the name of your mystery caller but for an additional fee, Truthfinder will also report any criminal information and addresses associated with the caller. Truthfinder can be used to locate family members, look-up sex offenders in your neighbourhood, investigate new and old friends or even yourself.

Due to its extensive search capabilities, it should come as no shock that Truthfinder isn’t as cheap as some of its competitors, but it is well worth the money.

A standard subscription for one-month will cost $30, while a 3-month subscription costs $26. These options include unlimited background checks with full reports. For options such as phone number lookups, members have the opportunity to pay less than $2 to look up as many numbers as they want.

With its in-depth searches and willingness to go the extra mile to find the information requested, Truthfinder has found a spot as the most accurate background check on the list.

Learn more at TruthFinder.com

Peoplefinders—Honorable Mention

Pros:

  • Best value for money background check
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Includes a mobile app
  • Easy to use site

Cons:

  • Membership cancellation fee

Created in 1999, Peoplefinders is one of the oldest and most successful background check sites. The Better Business Bureau has rated Peoplefinders A+, a well-deserved rating if one relies on customer reviews.

Peoplefinders claims access to the information of over 250 million United States citizens and access to information, including:

  • Bankruptcies
  • Traffic Violations
  • Birth Records
  • Property Ownership Records
  • Foreclosures
  • Divorce Records

In total, Peoplefinders has access to more than 43 billion records, allowing the site to create a large database that paying customers can use at any time.

In addition to allowing members to search for family members and friends, Peoplefinders also allows users to investigate other people they might interact with daily. The resources provided by Peoplefinder can be utilized to find out about a buyer or seller from online marketplaces such as Craigslist to ensure your safety when meeting for the exchange of goods and services. Peoplefinders can also be used to check the background of new neighbours or the parents and guardians of your children’s friends to guarantee peace of mind.

Peoplefinders has provided the general public with an easy to use website with a database that has access to more than 6,000 sources of information. Using the resources provided by Peoplefinders, a reverse phone lookup can take less than a minute while a name search can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes.

Reports compiled by Peoplefinders may include:

  • Full Names
  • Address History
  • Criminal Records
  • Outstanding Warrants
  • Marriage Records
  • Police Reports

And many other sources of information. Due to its large database, Peoplefinders will only require as little as a name, phone number or address to produce a full report. In addition to its website, Peoplefinders has also created a free mobile app to help those clients who are on the move to keep up with the information they need.

Alongside its large database, easy-to-use website and free mobile app, Peoplefinders has some of the highest-ranked customer service representatives in the background check field. Representatives have been described as professional, courteous and well-rounded on various review sites, further bolstering Peoplefinders already stunning reputation.

The price plans offered by Peoplefinders is yet another advantage that the site provides.

A standard membership on Peoplefinders will cost $24.95 per month allowing users access to limited information. On the other hand, premium membership costs  $29.95 and gives the user access to an extensive well of information. Both plans offer a first month trial for $9.95 with the chance to cancel before the next month begins. Peoplefinders does include a cancellation fee but the process to cancel a subscription is quick and easy.

In conclusion, it is not difficult to see why Peoplefinders has been included on the list. With extensive resources and prices to match, this site is one everyone should consider.

Learn more at PeopleFinders.com

Instant Checkmate—Best Free Resources

Pros:

  • Offers free resources for non-subscription users
  • Reports are extensive and accurate
  • Offers a mobile app for on the go users

Cons:

  • Report speed is slow 

Instant Checkmate is a people search website founded in 2010. The company has a rating of A+ on the Better Business Bureau and over 70,000 5-star reviews. Instant Checkmate has more than 1 million registered members and is one of the only background checking sites that allows non-subscription users to access information.

Non-paying visitors to Instant Checkmate’s website can access several tools, such as:

  • Criminal Records Database Using this tool, users can view statistical records of crime in any area across the United States.
  • Inmate Search – This feature allows visitors to not only check current and past federal inmates but it also provides release dates of these inmates.
  • People Directory Base – This tool lets visitors search for names with limited results that include possible locations and the age of the person in question.
  • Instant Checkmate Glossary – The glossary provided by Instant Checkmate helps visitors understand the common terms used in databases and people searches.

In addition to these free resources, Instant Checkmate has created a substantial database using thousands of sources to aggregate public records. This database means that when searching for an individual, paying members can gain information on factors including:

  • Contact Details
  • Civil Judgements
  • FAA Pilot Licenses
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Property Ownership
  • Hunting And Fishing Permits
  • Traffic Violations
  • Neighbours
  • Tax Liens
  • Vehicle Information
  • DEA Controlled Substance Licenses
  • Location History
  • Criminal Records
  • Arrest Records

And many other sources of information. The site offers these services to help users locate long-lost family members and friends, investigate new acquaintances or assuage curiosity about the use of personal information. The site is adamant that its resources not be used in employment matters or research potential tenants.

Alongside its people search, Instant Checkmate allows users several other features which  include:

  • Member Care Services
  • The Instant Checkmate App
  • Email Search
  • Location Search
  • Reverse Phone Lookup

With such a large database and such extensive searches, Instant Checkmate does not produce reports as quickly as other background search competitors. However, the quality and quantity of information provided more than makes up for any small delay in the service.

Instant Checkmate offers a five-day trial for new visitors for only $1. After the free trial standard memberships that will provide the member with reports that include a date of birth, location history, address records and nearby sex offenders records is only $34.78 a month. Members who want a more extensive report can upgrade to a premium subscription for an added $19.99.

Learn more at InstantCheckmate.com

Intelius—Best For Work History Records

Pros:

  • Reports include not only educational history but also work history
  • Offers a trial option for new customers
  • Offers a mobile app
  • Subscriptions give clients unlimited searches

Cons:

  • Users are unable to download reports

Intelius is a background check site created in 2003. The company claims to have access to over 20 billion records used to provide concise and accurate reports.

Intelius gains the information used in its database from a wide variety of sources that include:

  • Court records
  • FBI data
  • Real Estate Documents
  • Social Media

These sources along with many others allow Intelius to produce results that have seen them achieve an A rank from the Better Business Bureau.

Due to the size of the company’s database, reports produced by Intelius are completed faster than many of its competitors. This speed helps to save time and worry for clients as often people searches are something of a last resort in sensitive cases.

Intelius not only offers their clients a wealth of information, but they also provide graphs that highlight connections making the information more understandable.

Intelius’ user interface is easy to use, requiring little to no experience with people search engines to produce results.

One of the unique aspects of Intelius identified by clients is the level of information surrounding employment history that the site can provide. Unlike other companies that run background checks, Intelius places equal emphasis on education and work history. This work history gives clients another means of verifying if the information gained from Intelius has identified the correct individual or individuals being researched.

In addition to work and education history, Intelius provides:

  • Aliases
  • Financial Information
  • Full Names
  • Location History
  • Phone Numbers
  • Criminal Records
  • Marriage History
  • Warrants

As additional features, Intelius offers Reverse Phone Lookups, Reverse Address Lookups and a phone directory.

For the added price of $19.95 per month, Intelius even provides an Identity Protect bundle, which gives the customer personal information monitoring and credit card protection. Unfortunately, the information gained from Intelius cannot be downloaded to a device, but it can be viewed as often as required. Intelius offers new clients a trial that will cost only $7.95 if cancelled before the end of the 7 day trial period. A standard people search subscription will usually cost a client $39.95, but Intelius offers the options of adding features such as a Federal Criminal Check for an additional $19.95.

BeenVerified—Best Additional Features

Pros:

  • Most additional features
  • Affordable Prices
  • Mobile app
  • Easy to use website

Cons:

  • Without a subscription, users cannot access reports

Created in 2007, BeenVerified currently has over 100,000 subscribers and reports up to 10 million visitors per month. The company boasts access to thousands of sources of public records, compiled into a single database.

Accessing BeenVerified allows users a chance to gain information from sources such as:

  • Social Media
  • Federal Records
  • Census Data
  • Credit Unions
  • Court Records

These sources, along with many others that BeenVerified has access to, provide information for more than just people searches. Unlike most other background check companies, BeenVerified offers several additional features that its members can take advantage of, these include:

  • Vehicle Search
  • Address Search
  • Unclaimed Money Search
  • Email Search
  • Business Search
  • Social Media Search

These features not only allow BeenVerified to provide clients with a wider scope of information. The features also allow the user to crosscheck the information gained from people searches ensuring that the person the records refer to is the one the clients are investigating.

People searches run by BeenVerified provides clients with reports that include various forms of identifying factors, such as:

  • Aliases
  • Phone Numbers
  • Relatives
  • Criminal Records
  • Address History
  • Marriage Records

Gaining the information is simple due to the set up of the BeenVerified website, aimed at producing quick and in-depth reports. The database maintained by the site means that clients easily bypass restrictions put in place by private organizations which makes gaining information difficult.

The site compiles this information into a single coherent report instead of providing the client with every aggregated piece of documentation. This process makes the information easier to read and understand without the clients having to sift through pages of unnecessary reports. BeenVerified maintains customer service specialists available seven days a week to help with any issues that might arise while using the site.

The service provided by BeenVerified costs as little as $20 a month depending on what sort of report the client is seeking. BeenVerified does not offer single reports to be produced and paid for like some of its competitors. But with the features offered, the additional price of maintaining a subscription is more than worth it.

US Search—Easy To Use Website Design

Pros:

  • The website is easy to use
  • Affordable price options
  • Extensive search options
  • Free trial of basic searches

Cons:

  • Does not provide education history or work history

US Search is a people search site founded in 1994, making the company one of the longest-lasting background sites. The site has maintained a reputation for compiling a database created from billions of public records. This growing database means that the reports provided by US Search are not only up to date but also accurate.

US Search has access to not only court and criminal records. The site also utilizes local and national databases giving them access to weapons permits, tax liens, bankruptcies, traffic violations, marriage records and tenancy histories.

Unlike many of its competitors, US Search does not provide information on education history or work history. However, all other public records can be accessed by the site to create a report that includes factors such as:

  • Phone numbers
  • Maiden Names
  • Full Names
  • Relatives
  • Associates
  • Property Values
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Age

Amongst many other factors that depend on the subscription being used or the price the member is willing to accommodate.

In addition to its background checks, users can use US Search to perform:

  • Reverse Phone Lookups
  • Reverse Address Lookups
  • Social Network Searches

Cross-referencing reports gained from the site has found the information provided to be not only adequate for the price but also accurate.

In addition, the simplistic design of the website is yet another advantage that US Search can lay claim to. The landing page of the site provides visitors with three main options that will lead directly to a subscription or membership plan option to receive the report in question. Without an over the top design, users can get the information needed with no hassle or need to search through the website to understand how to use it.

US Search offers two payment options via Mastercard or Paypal. The most recommended payment option on the site costs $19.86 for one month of unlimited reports. The site provides the option of a trial for $1.99 whereas additional features such as national criminal records access will cost the user an added $19.95. Cancelling a subscription is an easy and quick process, and the site even offers a 100% no-hassle cancellation guarantee to ensure this.

How Does A Background Check Work?

A background check is a process by which an individual or a company verifies the identity of a person using information such as educational history, employment history, criminal records, marriage records and other sources of personal information.

Background checks are usually run by companies that have created databases from aggregated public records.

These databases are searched depending on the information provided by the client to identify the investigated individual. Once the individual is identified the site will pull their records from its database creating a report.

The most common form of background checks used by the public is a Personal Background Check.

Other forms of background checks include:

  • Universal Background Check—Individuals and companies who sell firearms are required by law to run a Universal Background Check on customers before they are sold any firearm. 
  • Criminal Background Checks—This is a check often used in pre-employment to ensure that the applicant is trustworthy and honest. Criminal Background Checks also used to decide if the applicant might pose a risk to others.
  • The Office Of Inspector General (OIG) Background Checks—This check is conducted to investigate if the individual in question is on the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE). Members on this list are barred from taking part in federal health care plans.
  • International Background Checks—This form of background checks allows for the screening of members of other countries alongside United States citizens working or who have previously worked abroad.
  • E-Verify Background Checks—Often used by employers, this check verifies the employment information of an individual, including an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification and their Form I-9.

Where Does The Data Come From?

The information used by companies that run background checks or function as people finders are public records. This means that any member of the public could potentially find the information on their own, but the process will not be easy.

Background Check companies use information from national and local databases, court systems, public bank records, school records and employment history to create their databases. These records are sometimes quite difficult to get dependent on the company or institutions that store them as these organizations might have different data protection rules.

By compiling these records into large databases, Background Check companies ensure that searches are completed much faster and the results gained are more thorough than what would have been produced by trawling the Internet. In addition, many of these companies also have access to the Deep Web allowing them to monitor the flow of information and identify any possible personal information breach.

Pros and Cons of Background Check Services

As with any service, background checks are not without their advantages and disadvantages. Below we have listed just a few of these:

Pros:

  • Increased Safety Of The Individual—In cases where one must meet or interact with a stranger such as on dates, background checks allow you to make sure that the person in question does not have a criminal or personal history that might make such an encounter dangerous.
  • Personal Identity Safety—Many background checks companies not only search for information but also protect their client’s information by monitoring the Internet and Dark Web, and alerting their client if their information is being used or sold.

Cons:

  • Unfair Bias—Records such as criminal history only gives a snapshot of the individual who is being checked. It is probable that such information could cause unnecessary bias that would not be present if the information was not available.

Conclusion

Personal background checks, such as those identified in this article, are often used to locate lost or missing family members, find old friends and in some cases update information, whereas background checks run by employment companies usually focus on the history of an applicant. This may include criminal, work and education history dependent on the company in question. Background checks are an effective tool that should be utilized whenever needed, though it is important to not misuse the resources as outlined by the companies providing them.