This is sponsored content. Men’s Journal is not endorsing the websites or products set forth below.
It’s important to understand that a background check is very different from a credit check or a police check. A background check is compiled from publicly available information.
The websites that offer these checks need some information as a starting point. Typically, this would be a telephone number or an address. With this first piece of data in hands, they can then scour the public records for other information relevant to the specific parameters of the background check you require.
Some clients simply want to know more about the guy doing renovations on their family home. Others are curious about that blind date. Who is my son or daughter dating? What are those people really about?
People also use these sites to do background check services on themselves because, yes, public records can sometimes get it wrong. Or cross-reference the wrong data sets.
It may well be something that keeps coming up on your background check that is seriously messing with your future. Something you know nothing about. A piece of wrongly assimilated data or an event or occurrence from your past you’ve completely forgotten about.
We’ve done the homework for you. We’ve sifted through the legion of available background check services on the web to come up with a list of the most reputable ones. In this article, we’ll tell you which they are and why they made it onto our list.
Best Background Check Services & Sites:
- TruthFinder – Best background Check Service for Criminal Records
- Instant Checkmate – Best for Social Media Checks
- Intelius – Best for Professional Checks
#1. TruthFinder – Best Background Check Service For Criminal Records
- The reports you get from TruthFinder are detailed and comprehensive
- Their pricing tiers are easy to understand
- Great customer support
- They have a usable and efficient mobile app
- Transparency is a part of the company’s DNA – they are open about how they use data.
- Membership is mandatory for any kind of report
- A phone search requires a separate membership
- TruthFinder doesn’t offer a free trial
The Upside to Truthfinder
The real value in TruthFinder reports is in the hidden nuggets of information you’ll find among the broader data – these are sometimes unexpected nuggets of gold; the kind other sites often miss.
TruthFinder is a premium background check service site. You have to pay to get their background check service. There’s a benefit to this. It means you can access both public and private databases and have access to the information stored on both.
In the information age, we’re often obsessed with the public information that is available about other people. We forget there is a similar amount of our own public data that is available for anyone who uses the right tool to search for it.
TruthFinder offers you a comprehensive toolset to monitor yourself and the data that has been and is being assimilated about you.
If you’re in a position where you often need to compile background checks, Truthfinder’s report depth is about as good as it gets. It searches for police records, social media profiles, photographs, and a whole lot more.
Everything on the Internet works with an algorithm. Google, YouTube, Amazon, you name it. TruthFinder uses one too. And its algorithm also includes relationship data – something most other information sites omit.
Location histories – places visited, previous domiciles, general location histories, etc., all compiled from public and private databases, are included in TruthFinder reports, and the accuracy of these reports is high.
The mobile app is available for Android and iOS. If your life is fast and you’re on the go all the time, this is for you. It’s fast, and it will get you fast results.
An added feature to TruthFinder’s background check service is their dark web scanner. Nothing stays hidden with this platform.
What Does the Truthfinder Service Cost?
If you subscribe to this background check service, you’ll get 1-month of access for $29. They will discount that to $24 per month if you buy a two-month subscription.
TruthFinder being the best in the industry, offers the best background check services as they have a name-search facility – and this is unique. A phone search will require a separate $5 subscription, which is great if this is all you want to do. But the name search, which is more complicated by definition, is included in your monthly subscription.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to try before you buy its background check services. No free trial here. Also, there’s an added $2 fee if you want to download the reports TruthFinder generates.
TruthFinder tells you upfront how you may NOT use the data it assimilates, and this is important.
The site is really fast in doing a background check– it takes around ten minutes to generate the average report.
The databases TruthFinder uses are actively and regularly updated and most current. In compiling their reports, TruthFinder accesses social media records and public records. Everything is comprehensive.
Membership gives you unfettered access to background check services in both the Android and Apple TruthFinder apps.
TruthFinders Customer Service
TruthFinder’s customer service is rated well overall. The promotional emails can be overwhelming, though, and this elicits negative reviews. Cancelling can only happen by phone, but their service representatives are knowledgeable and helpful.
#2. Instant Checkmate – Best for Social Media Checks
- Their databases are continually updated
- They offer a heavily discounted 5-day trial
- Transparency-levels are high
- Apps for both Android and Apple
- Membership allows access to unlimited searches
- Mandatory membership is required to generate reports of this background check services site (even if it is discounted membership)
The Upside to Instant Checkmate
If you run background checks occasionally, Instant Checkmate may well offer you the best background check services. If you run these checks as a matter of course, there are better options available.
Instant Checkmate’s background check services are as comprehensive as TruthFinder, but it is cheaper.
How much Does the Instant Checkmate Background Check Services Cost?
A 5-day trial will set you back $5. When you’re buying and get to the checkout page, wait a few seconds. A popup will appear with a discounted price!
Full membership is required once your trial expires. This will set you back $28 per month for a quarterly renewal or $35 for the monthly option. Phone lookups can be purchased separately for $5.
Instant Checkmate Features
All the standard information boxes are ticked.
People search is the obvious one. And you can initiate check services by searching with either a first or last name. The more information you have on hand, the easier you make it for Instant Checkmate to respond with an accurate report.
The kind of information Instant Checkmate assimilates includes:
- Age and date of birth
- Where they currently live
- A comprehensive list of available past addresses
- Past and present phone numbers
- Names and aliases
- Marriage and divorce records
- Any available sex offender records
- Social media profiles
Do a reverse phone lookup: Instant Checkmate is also one of the best background check services for identifying unknown numbers or phone pranksters.
With a phone number in hand, you can end up with a report that includes name, business names, the caller’s age, the social media profiles associated with the number in question, and even the caller’s location. This takes you out of the victim zone in a real hurry!
You can do a reverse phone lookup, but keep in mind that background checks may not be as effective and comprehensive as the people search functionality on the Instant Checkmate site. Remember, it’s all about the availability of information on the databases.
Do a reverse email lookup: So many senders, so much spam. That accurately describes the average inbox today. The reverse email lookup works much like the reverse phone lookup.
The legitimacy of email addresses and the details of ownership of those senders will be displayed on an Instant Checkmate lookup.
This feature is excellent for identifying scams and scammers.
Instant Checkmate Customer Service
Customers are generally happy with the company and brand. Canceling membership is uncomplicated – all it takes is an email, a phone call, or simply filling out an online contact form.
#3. Intelius – Best for Professional Use
- Work history is included in Intelius reports
- Education history is included in Intelius reports
- All the background check information is comprehensive and detailed
- Subscriptions are well-priced
- Sneaky price practices
- This makes for unhappy customers
The Upside to Intelius
Intelius is strongly aimed at those who want to gather background check information for personal use. People searching for long-lost family members or old-school friends who would want to do background checks typically turn to Intelius.
Intelius allows the user who does background checks to remain anonymous – and everything remains confidential. The subject of the search will never be any the wiser.
The Intelius background check database is simply enormous. And everything from criminal history to education levels is searchable in the background checks. Reverse email lookup and reverse phone lookup are also on the list of functionalities.
Information for general background checks is available on a free plan, but specifics are only available on reports generated under a paid membership plan.
The accuracy of Intelius background check reports have been called into question in the past, but because of the confidential nature of the service, this is difficult to verify.
What Do Intelius Background Check Services Cost?
Intelius background checks are complicated when it comes to their pricing. Perhaps deliberately so.
People Search will set you back $1,00
Reverse Phone will cost you $1
A reverse address lookup will cost you up to $15
A criminal record search will cost you $15 statewide and $30 nationally
A full background check will cost you $40
A premier membership is $20
Premier plus membership is $30
Here’s the sneaky bit. If you do any of these background checks, you’re automatically signed up for the 7-day trial. Should you cancel your trial within 7 days, you’re also automatically eligible for an $8 cancellation fee!
A People Search report: When you generate a report with this functionality, it will contain essential information relating to the background checks. Age and date of birth, relevant history, educational history, email addresses, and social media information are included.
A background check report: The report from the background checks will include public record reports, judgments and lawsuits, bankruptcies and liens, and criminal records.
A criminal record search report: This background check report that includes national or state criminal records.
Reverse address search (current) report: The background checks from this report will include current address details, details on previous addresses, general contact information, home value, and registered sex offenders in the area.
Reverse phone lookup (current) report: Information like the phone carrier, the name of the caller, their address, and even possible family members is included in this report.
Public records report: This report contains everything a people search report does, but with marriage and divorce records added.
Intelius Customer Service
Generally, Intelius pays attention to their customers – that is, unless you try to phone them. If you need to cancel a subscription, you can do so via a web form.
#4. US Search – Best For Email Checks
- Reports are printable at no extra cost
- The reports are very detailed
- It is possible to run database searches without a membership
- They don’t have a mobile app
- The company lacks the transparency required in this niche of the market
The Upside of US Search
You don’t need a membership to do a background check on US Search. This is a unique feature among the companies we looked at.
The competition will typically only perform a background check under a membership plan, and printing that report will be a couple of dollars extra. With US Search, it’s free.
However, US Search reports often lack essential information when it comes to background checks. In a quick case study, we used our team members as guinea pigs. This was a quickfire way to determine the accuracy of these services firsthand.
Mostly the information from other background check services was accurate or close enough to accurate to be acceptable.
US Search provided accurate search information about essentials like education and address but included no contact information. No phone number. No email address.
Information returned in this quick field test was also inaccurate for people associated with our test subject.
We also experienced a real lack of transparency with US Search background checks. This market is heavily regulated, and for good reason. You can actually do certain things with the information you glean from these reports and other things you can simply NOT do with it.
Most companies make this clear upfront. It keeps them safe, shows the necessary respect for search subjects, and keeps the user on the right side of the law. So, everybody wins with this approach.
US Search background checks clearly don’t take this as seriously as the competition does. A tiny bit of information in the fine print will give you the basic dos and don’ts, but nothing more helpful than that.
What Do US Search Background Checks Cost?
The US Search membership tiers and report fees work as follows:
A basic People Search will set you back $2.45
A monthly subscription costs $20
A criminal record search for a single state costs $15
A comprehensive background check will set you back $40
US Search Features
Vanilla ice cream on a white plate. That’s what the features of the US Search experience reminded us of. The basics are there, but anything that would add extra impetus to a report was simply missing.
US Search Customer Service
Generally, customers are not only first-time; they’re only-time. Reviews are low grade at best. A single five-star review stands out like a sore thumb among a sea of one- and two-star report cards.
#5. PeopleFinders – Best Choice For Basic Checks
- It’s not mandatory to subscribe to a membership tier
- They have an Android app available
- The 3-day trial is low-cost
- You will be charged if you cancel
- Reports don’t include a social media search
- There is no iOS app
The Upside to Peoplefinders
The site is really usable and user-friendly for background checks, and the functionalities are excellent. Enter a first and last name and city of residence and get your match. Take your credit card, pay, and get your report. Seamless and effortless.
The reports are comprehensive too. Evictions, foreclosures, property ownership records, phone numbers, family members, and addresses are typically included. And records of criminal activities.
What Do Peoplefinders Services Cost?
The pricing tiers are easy and reasonable. Membership is $30 per month. A 3-day trial is $3. But there is an $8 cancellation fee. This is a dubious practice, in our opinion.
Search variety: there are various search options on PeopleFinders. Criminal background checks , address search, reverse phone lookup, and more.
Public records: A name and city of residence will get you additional information like property ownership records, date of birth, aliases, family members, and more.
Unlimited reports: Under a membership plan, you have no limit on the number of background checks you can perform.
Peoplefinders Customer Service
Their Trustpilot rating hovers around 4.6, which is exemplary in this market. They’re available on the phone from 7 am to 6 pm every Monday to Friday and from 7 am to 3:30 pm on both Saturdays and Sundays. This is not only great, but it’s refreshing too.
#6. PeopleLooker – Best Value
- Their background checks are completely confidential
- They have apps for both Apple and Android
- Their interface is usable and clean
- Everything on the site is easy to learn
- Customer service is wonky
- They’re SLOW!
The Upside of PeopleLooker
All background checks are confidential. This is important and engenders trust in the service. They take transparency seriously, and we really liked this.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act rules their way of doing business, and that makes sure that transparency and privacy in this regard remain priorities for them.
How Much Do PeopleLooker Services Cost?
The PeopleLooker price plan and services are simple and fair.
A 3-month plan will set you back $19 per month.
A single-month plan costs $23 per month
A 5-day trial costs a single dollar – $1!
A comprehensive property check: The property ownership records, as well as the current property your subject owns, will be included in this report. Factors it focuses on include taxes, year of construction, square footage, and more. It also gives demographic details such as area attractions, schools, etc.
You can remove information: When you do a self-check and find false, inaccurate, or misleading information, PeopleLooker will assist you in taking it down.
A court-runner: This function searches through court records to offer up information such as outstanding warrants, misdemeanors, arrests, and court records.
The people search function: An email, address, or first and last name will be cross-referenced to generate a comprehensive report.
PeopleLooker Customer Service
You can contact the PeopleLooker customer service crowd via an online form, email, or on the phone. Office hours are 6 am to 11:30 pm. Service is always centered on the customer, friendly and helpful.
#7. BeenVerified – Best for Beginners
- Unlimited searches for members
- Many different browsing options
- Both Apple and Android apps
- All info generated into reports is current
- Results can be slow in forthcoming
- No free trial period is offered
The Upside of BeenVerified
The background checks search options on BeenVerified are as unique as they are varied. Imagine searching for someone on the back of only a VIN number!
Yes, you can enter a VIN number to start a search and then use the information you get back from that to broaden your search.
On the back of the VIN number, you can get:
- Reports from any accidents the vehicle may have been involved in
- Any safety recalls on the vehicle
- The estimated value of the vehicle
- Comprehensive ownership information – which you can then use to dig deeper if you need to
Deep inside, we all share the fantasy of a rich aunt or uncle we knew nothing about leaving us a castle in Britain, a title, and an unfathomable fortune.
BeenVerified will help you find this. Well, maybe not exactly, but it will help you to find misplaced savings bonds, overpaid utility bills, and private companies that owe you money. This is a really nifty feature – and who knows – maybe it will even pay for your membership!
The BeenVerified mobile apps are quick and functional. They offer all the usability and features of the website and store past reports for easy and quick access when you need them.
How Much Do BeenVerified Services Cost?
A 3-month membership plan costs $15 per month, and a single-month membership will set you back $23 per month.
All platform features are available on both membership tiers.
The BeenVerified Customer Service
The BeenVerified team is excellent – they’re attentive, quick, and knowledgeable. The support email works for 17 hours every day, and responses to queries to this address are always prompt—a few hours at most.
#8. GoodHire – Easy To Use
- Ultimate usability on the website
- Extensive online resources
- The applicant portal is very user friendly
- The pricing tiers are easy and fair
- They miss self-imposed report deadlines
The Upside of GoodHire
They’re professional and friendly, and the membership tiers are more than fair for what you get.
They’re only half a decade old, but their customer base already exceeds 75 000.
They’re ideally niched for HR departments in smaller businesses to vet basic employment background checks. GoodHire integrates with Applicant Tracking System software.
The interface is a pleasure to work with. Everything falls right under your fingers, like it should with good usability web design practices.
How Much Do GoodHire Services Cost?
Their basic employment background checks plan will set you back $30 per month. Turnaround time for most reports under most conditions is no more than 24-hours. In addition, you’ll receive a criminal database check, a sex-offender list report, and an SSN trace.
The more expensive Standard Plan costs $80 per background check. It includes everything in the basic plan but also includes 7-years of court records.
In the Premium Plan, also %80, these reports are delivered super-fast.
It will cost you an additional %50 to set up and verify your account.
These are add-on features – bear in mind they will cost a bit extra.
- Credit reports for employment background checks
- Any health sanctions
- Drug screen test results
- Any ongoing alerts on your subject
- Motor vehicle checks in various databases
GoodHire Customer Service
These guys really shine. Email them, phone them, chat on their website; it doesn’t matter. They’re courteous and prompt, and they have a small company feel to them. We loved it.
#9. RentPrep – Best for Criminal History
- Their county criminal court search reports cover the entire USA as well as DC
- Fair pricing
- Well-designed membership plans (x2)
- Information on subject income is limited
- You can do a hardcore credit report, but it will cost you
The Upside of RentPrep
This service is popular for screening potential tenants, as the name implies. They offer a package similar to TransUnion’s SmartMove, but you can also add a judgment search to your parameters.
The standard RentPrep background search will report on sex offender registry entries, do a national eviction search, do bankruptcy checks, and also deliver previous addresses.
Both packages are excellent. The first package gives you what they call a ResidentScore – which indicates if a potential tenant is desirable or not.
The possibility of a full credit report also exists, but it is available as an additional option and paid for separately. This will give you fail or pass detection.
How Much Do RentPrep Services Cost?
Their price plans are simple. A background check will cost you $19, and the SmartMove comprehensive credit report will cost you $38.
Information on subject income: This report will show bankruptcies for ten years. It sometimes reports on employment information, but this is not consistent.
Criminal record reports: Databases – state and national – are searched, and criminal reports are included in the RentPrep report.
Eviction history of the subject: Past evictions are a good predictor of future evictions. For this report, RentPrep searches all public databases for relevant information and includes that in a comprehensive eviction history.
A comprehensive credit report: All details you’d expect are included – except for the FICO score. Although this is a handy feature, landlords may want to consider using the ResidentScore feature instead. It is simply more comprehensive and tailor-made.
The lease default predictor: This feature is similar to the credit score, but it uses a separate, proprietary algorithm to calculate the score. It does reliable risk predictions about prospective tenants.
RentPrep Customer Service
RentPrep is a firm favorite among users. The reviews tell the story. Their customer service representatives are available Monday to Saturday via phone or email. They are customer-centric, knowledgeable, and friendly.
#10. PeopleSmart – Best Customer Service
- Results are well-organized and easy to assimilate
- The system saves and recalls your searches
- You can set the system to monitor a record and notify you of changes
- The information is ranked and scored
- The site is super-easy to navigate
- PeopleSmart doesn’t offer a background checking service
- It doesn’t report on criminal or court history
- The service typically returns multiple records – you have to find the right person yourself.
The Upside of PeopleSmart
There are various methods you can employ to run your searches. Your starting point can be a name, a social media account, a phone number, or an email address. The varied options make the site a breeze to work with.
PeopleSmart takes transparency seriously. They make it clear from the get-go what can and cannot be done with the information it returns in its reports. This is great because it protects everyone involved in your search.
You’re protected because you stay on the right side of the law. The subject is protected because their privacy is properly respected. And the company is protected because it remains within the legislative framework set for the market within which it operates.
For instance, you cannot use information from PeopleSmart to judge a subject’s eligibility to get a job or to learn about financial statuses to apply the information as a credit score for a credit application.
What Do PeopleSmart Services Cost?
Their services are ultra-affordable. A 7-day trial will set you back only $1! You will. However, be asked to provide your credit card details. Once your trial period runs out, you will be billed for a monthly membership at $30 plus tax.
It may be worth your while to set a desktop or phone reminder to cancel your subscription if you only want to use the service as a one-off.
That said, PeopleSmart is really cost-effective if you’re constantly doi8ng background checks. They don’t sensationalize their reports, like so many competitors do, and they don’t overwhelm you with upgrade offers.
PeopleSmart Reports: A subscription allows you to keep all your searches on record. They are simply and quickly located and accessed through a recent reports feature on your dashboard. One-click will open the report and even download it for you as a PDF. All recent searches can also be deleted for privacy purposes.
PeopleSmart report monitoring: Up to ten different reports can be continually monitored using this feature. You will receive an email notification if any aspect of the given report changes on any of the databases the report is linked to. A simple click of the “Turn on Monitoring” button will add this feature to a report.
PeopleSmart account information: the PeopleSmart dashboard is a dream. It’s easy to use, well-designed and puts everything you need right at your fingertips. Manage your whole account and all your searches and reports from here.
PeopleSmart Customer Service
The PeopleSmart customer service center runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This can be a total gamechanger. You can get a hold of them via an online contact form (the responses are always prompt!) or via phone.
Conclusion – Which Background Check Site Should You Prefer?
The background check industry has evolved fast. Like with any other market segment that finds itself in the throes of rapid growth, fly-by-night operators appear. And, thankfully, they don’t last long.
Other companies shirk their responsibilities by not being as transparent as is required. It’s up to the customers to reject them for that and choose transparent concerns instead.
These companies and their services can be used for a wide array of purposes – from vetting a blind date to checking on the credentials of a prospective tenant. But first and foremost, it is important to realize that it deals with the privacy of individuals. And laws are governing that.
Choosing the right company to deal with is about more than getting the kind of information you require. It is about making sure you stay on the right side of the law as well. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the dos and don’ts of the information on the reports you acquire, and don’t stray outside the guidelines.For the most accurate search results use TruthFInder and Instant Checkmate.
Above all, make sure you always choose a reputable company to deal with. Remember, today you’re the one requesting the report. Tomorrow somebody else may be requesting a report on you. Deal only with companies you’ll be as comfortable with when they’re reporting on you as you are when you’re requesting reports from them.
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!