Even if you don’t watch the news and just peruse social media every so often, you’re bound to come across a tragic story. The scariest part of most of these stories is that the victim is usually somehow connected to the attacker. That thought is unsettling, but knowing how charming and seemingly normal people with unpleasant pasts act—this reality should come as no surprise.
Nobody ever wants to think that the worst can happen to them, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t employ preventive measures to keep you and your loved ones safe from predatory people. Even scammers fall under this category. There’s an entire black market out there where social security numbers, passwords, and other personal data are constantly traded and sold. Your safety isn’t limited to your physical surroundings. It also involves your laptops, tablets, phones, and smart watches. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be a concern. However, this just isn’t the case and it’s on you to act and vet your circle to ensure no snakes are slithering about right in your backyard.
Luckily, you have recourse. There are some incredibly informative background check services that give you the lowdown on anyone new who approaches you. It could be a new business associate, a new neighbor, a fellow parent who asked for a playdate with your kiddo, or even someone who has asked you out for a date. The best background check sites serve as a bestie with private investigator capabilities. Find out what you need to know upfront before you waste your time or get hurt. You can learn about the person’s criminal history through background checks along with personal details, including who is hanging around their social circles. The more you know, the more empowered you are.
3 Best Background Check Services
- Truthfinder – Editor’s Choice: Best Background Check Service
- Instant Checkmate – Close Second: Fast Results
- Spokeo – Runner-Up: Interactive Dashboard
Best Background Check Services - Reviews
1. Truthfinder – Editor’s Choice: Best Background Check Service
- Search with only a few pieces of information
- Explore social media profiles
- Discover possible relationships
- Cancellation is easy
- This background check service only covers the United States
About the Company
Truthfinder was founded in 2015. They developed this service to help folks reconnect with their family and friends and learn about the new people that they’re letting into their lives. This website has a simple interface that allows you to look up public records online. All you have to do is enter a name and hit the search button. You can use a name, address, phone number, or email address. Basically, whatever piece of information you have is a great start and then Truthfinder does the rest. Truthfinder also offers a couple of other different services like reverse phone lookup, reverse address lookup, people search, and dark web scan.
Truthfinder is not just a great background check service, but they also have a ton of helpful blogs and articles. You can look at their Infomania blog to get tips and info on how to do anything from finding someone’s birthday without asking to learning about the warning signs of human trafficking. They help you understand the process of reconnecting with lost loved ones and explain the types of information that show up in background checks. They aim to be informative and helpful so that you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
About the Service
Truthfinder is essentially a people search tool. So long as the person you are looking into resides in the United States, you can find them by name, phone number, address, or email address. Truthfinder uses its advanced algorithm to crawl through billions of public records within just a few minutes. Then, they compile all this information into a neatly organized final background check report. They make it easy for you to access information like criminal records and arrest records, bankruptcy information, employment history, contact information, liens, licenses, and social media profiles.
The background check service works by quickly accessing third-party databases. This is where all those public records are stored and where you could potentially access the information yourself, but it would take you days or weeks. In fact, Truthfinder pays a fee so that they have access to these databases and then they go ahead and pull all of that data for you so that you have an easy-to-read background check report almost immediately. A lot of people wonder if running a background check on someone lets them know that you are the one trying to access their information. The answer is no. They will never know. Truthfinder does not notify the individual you are running a search on.
With Truthfinder, you get a comprehensive background check report. Anything from previous job titles to hunting licenses, traffic offenses, possible relationships, weapons permits, astrological signs, and even concealed carry permits. If the information is out there, this best background check service will get it to you. Of course, results vary because each individual has a different past. Some people may have a super lengthy information sheet while others may not have as much data. Remember, it can be shocking sometimes when you uncover certain pieces of information so make sure that you are prepared to learn everything you need to know about the person you’re looking into.
What Customers Say
Customers love how fast and thorough Truthfinder is. In fact, one person took a different approach to exploring the service. He, instead of looking up another person, looked up his own name. He was curious but he didn’t think he’d find anything too alarming. However, he was wrong. It turns out he was on a government watchlist. He was shocked, to say the least, but it turned out that there was another individual whose middle and last name is identical to his first and last name. It just goes to show how thorough Truthfinder is when it comes to searching all possibilities. This man is now relieved to have cleared that up and he calls this an excellent service that he would definitely use again.
2. Instant Checkmate – Close Second: Fast Results
- 100% secure connection
- Great for traffic, criminal, and arrest records
- Budget-friendly background check
- Try a quick check before committing
- Subscription cancellation must be completed by phone
About the Company
Instant Checkmate was designed to help you find the truth about anyone with just a couple of clicks. They have a primary goal to provide you with the most detailed and useful information on almost anyone. The company has a great relationship with their customer base and is constantly taking in feedback to better refine their service. This is one of the best background check sites out there. Whether you are looking up arrest records, court records, demographic data, census data, or even sex offender information, Instant Checkmate is known for providing responsive and helpful member care.
They have an extensive criminal records database so if you suspect that someone in your circle has criminal records that they aren’t sharing with you, you can uncover all that information with a quick search. Additionally, all those criminal records that show up on Instant Checkmate background checks also include a map of all registered sex offenders in the specified area where you are running your search. You can get all the details you need, including mugshots, of nearby sex offenders.
About the Service
If all you have is a name, you can start by using Instant Checkmate’s people search tool. This is the ideal search tool if you’re looking to find information about a particular person. If new neighbors have just moved in next door or even if you have moved into a new neighborhood, you can look up all the publicly available information about those nearby dwellers. This tool makes it so that you can pull up a background check and have all related details in one place online. You’ll be able to learn about that person’s history and get a sense of who they truly are without having to ask them for all those personal details.
If you’re interested in learning about a person’s traffic records, court records, and arrest records, this is a great service to help ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones. Knowing about a person’s criminal records can help you make better decisions about them. With every background check they deliver, Instant Checkmate’s goal is to provide you with the peace of mind you need to continue a connection with someone or cut that person out of your life.
Another great feature of Instant Checkmate is that you can run an inmate search. This search feature accesses both federal and state records so that you can find an inmate, convict, or prisoner. Just type in the name and state to run a quick search. You could learn about their sentence time, about prison violence, and about their life behind bars. Instant Checkmate goes out of their way to provide you with as much information as possible, helping you with an initial free inmate search and giving you some facts and stats about what incarceration is like for those in custody.
What Customers Say
Customers call this best background service easy, intuitive, and of great value. One customer, in particular, has been using the service on and off for about two years. It’s become an invaluable tool for him which has helped him follow up with some loose ends. Although he thought he was privy to all the information he needed initially, he was very pleasantly surprised that the background check reports from Instant Checkmate disclosed a lot more information than he had ever seen. He’s grateful for the help he’s received over the last two years and highly recommends the service to anyone looking to learn more about an individual.
3. Spokeo – Runner-Up: Interactive Dashboard
- 120 million records
- Featured in Forbes
- Search by name, email, phone, or address
- Live reports for the lifetime of your account
- Some clients have misunderstood the single report trial, failing to cancel in time before the subscription takes effect
About the Company
Humans, with all their intelligence, know how to conceal personal details that would tarnish their image or reputation. Spokeo has made a commitment to make the world more transparent. Whether it’s someone you know, a company, or some type of technology, they aim to leverage data so that they can help you trust the people and companies you deal with. This best background check company is an intelligent service that enables you to search, connect, and get to know whoever you’re dealing with. Some people use it to find old friends while others use it to identify unknown callers. If you’re active in the dating world, this is a great service to use to figure out who the person sending you flirty text messages is.
Spokeo is a background check site that has organized over 12 billion records so that you can get the most up-to-date and useful data in a comprehensive background check report that includes the contact information, location information, photos, court records, and employment history of the person you’re interested in getting to know. These are only a few pieces of information you’ll be privy to. There is so much more data to explore. Spokeo has been innovating its service since 2006. They have morphed from a social search engine to a complete people search engine for background checks and now have more than 20 million monthly visitors.
About the Service
When you access the Spokeo background check site, you’re immediately provided with a search bar. Search by name, phone, address, or email to quickly look up all the information you need to know about new acquaintances, lost loved ones, friends, family, and even yourself. You’ll be able to get industry-leading background check reports that include all sorts of information like wealth data, personal details, family and associates, social media accounts, and contact and location history.
Spokeo does offer criminal records, but they do so for an additional fee. One of the greatest features of Spokeo is that they provide you with updates on all the background checks you’ve purchased for the lifetime of your Spokeo account. As their data refreshes, your report does too. You have live access to background check information on the person you initially inquired about, even when you aren’t actively seeking it out.
Whether you’re getting unwanted calls and texts and need to figure out who and why you’re being contacted, or you need to learn about online sellers because you have an affinity for picking up great deals online, Spokeo is all about ensuring you know who you are dealing with on any occasion. You can also use Spokeo to track down lost friends. Life moves quickly and sometimes you lose touch. With Spokeo background checks, you can get connected again.
What Customers Say
One user shares his troubling experience. He kept receiving harassing texts to his phone number and didn’t understand why. He became increasingly concerned with the content that was sent over, so he decided to find out the name of the owner of that phone number. Spokeo gave him all he needed, including their name, address, and email. With that information, he was able to move forward and take action to protect himself and his loved ones.
Factors Used to Choose the 3 Best Background Check Sites
There are different types of background check services you can find with a simple search online. However, each is slightly different. Some background check companies are more geared toward understanding the basics, like phone number and address information, and don’t take a particularly in-depth look into other relevant pieces of information you would be better off knowing. To put this list of the best background check sites together, we considered the following factors.
Ease of Use
Advancements in technology have made it so that with just a few clicks, you can get right to what you need. Long gone are the days of website interfaces that left much to be desired. Nowadays, you can start a search within seconds and have a full background check report within minutes. The websites we selected are intuitive and straightforward—even if you’re not the most internet-savvy person in the world, you can easily pull up the information you need without issue. Each also has world-class customer service, so if you need additional assistance for any reason, you can reach out and there’s a helpful team ready to walk you through the process and answer any of your background check questions.
No matter what it is, the cost is always an important consideration. We selected three amazing yet affordable background check services so that cost shouldn’t be an impediment. These are the best background check services because they’re thorough, easily accessible, completely discreet, and don’t break the bank. You can take advantage of subscriptions that allow for an unlimited number of searches. Certainly, there’s more than one person in your social or professional circles. Learn more about each of them, especially if you will be spending any time along with them. Before forming bonds, you can ensure that the person they present themselves as is the person they truly are.
How Deep the Dive
If you’re looking for the best background check, it has to be thorough. You should have all the information you need neatly compiled into one complete background check report. Although each of the background check services we highlight above is slightly different, they do share this in common. The dive is deep, so you’re not left wondering about missing pieces of information. Some of these services deliver information you may not have thought possible, like possible relationships and associates. You can look into those people as well to get a better picture of the lifestyle that person is leading.
What to consider when searching for a background check service?
Above, we explained what we looked for when putting this list of the best background check services together. Those are just some of the basic factors that led us to a refined list we are confident in recommending. However, there are other considerations for you to explore before you decide which background check service may be the most comprehensive for your needs.
The access you receive from background check services should be broad, starting with personal identifying information. This is especially important if you are looking up someone who has a common name. Your search may return tons of results and without personal identifying information like address, birth date, gender, and the like, you may be looking up a background check report for the wrong individual.
If you’re looking into a potential business associate, you may not care too much about some pieces of information as much as you care about the person’s financial history. Being able to access criminal history is also crucial, as business involves many important exchanges, often with money. Knowing that you’re dealing with someone trustworthy can put you at ease and help you move forward with your business ventures.
Background checks should also access state records—although you can typically conduct some of these searches on your own without the use of a service, the process quickly gets tedious. The amount of time you would spend conducting all these searches on your own is nothing compared to the intelligent algorithms these background check services have developed. They comb through the internet at the same moment you submit your search request and have it all ready for you in just a few minutes.
If your search is more about who you’re socializing with and who you’re dating, then you are probably highly interested in social media details. People can be sneaky with their social media accounts, creating multiple profiles to appear a certain way to each group of people they know. They might have a professional social media profile that’s made public and only includes their most pristine photos to create a professional image. Then there may be a friends-only profile where things get a bit more raw and more transparent. If you’re letting someone new into your life, you should know who they really are, not just the clean and PG version they present sometimes.
With the speed at which background check services work, you don’t have to worry about waiting for days on end before you can access the important information you need. There are bound to be occasions when you need information on an individual as soon as possible. When this is the case, you can turn to any one of the services highlighted above and get the complete and accurate background check report you need within minutes. Even the savviest internet researcher can’t beat that.
What does a background check show?
The best background check services are thorough, providing as many details as possible about the individual you’re inquiring about. You can access criminal records and criminal history—those might be some of the most important pieces of information when you’re working to stay safe and protect your loved ones. You will also be able to access contact information, like their full name, address, and phone number.
A good background check site will always cover vital information like sex offender records. However, it’s not all about accessing criminal activity. Background checks can also uncover previous schooling and employment records, which can help you verify if the person you’re inquiring about has been truthful. These services are surprisingly comprehensive, unveiling possible associates, relationships, and relatives.
Additionally, you can gain access (depending on which service you select) to related links, meaning news stories, Wikipedia pages, blogs, or personal websites that may exist on the internet. Often, people create profiles and accounts and forget all about them. With a full background check report, it’s like getting a sneak peek into that person’s past. People can certainly evolve over time so these bits of information may not be so relevant to who they are now, but they can certainly help you gauge who they are as a whole over the course of many years.
How long does a background check take?
A good background check site has already developed an intricate algorithm that immediately scans billions of databases within seconds. These types of services can deliver a thorough, highly detailed report with photos and all within just a few minutes. There are some databases, which on a rare occasion, may require a few days. However, the background check report won’t be held up if there is a single piece of information missing. You’ll get everything that’s available upfront and will receive any updates later if there are any.
How far back does a background check go?
Even the best background checks are limited by different laws. Each state decides how transparent criminal offenses are. On average, you can expect criminal records to go back between seven to 10 years.
A background check site is also limited to what is allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows for information up to 10 years to be disclosed. Anything after that won’t come up. It’s a common misconception that a background check report covers the life of a person. However, that is not how it works.
What is the best background check application?
Our choice for the best background check service is Truthfinder. It’s the most thorough, user-friendly, and affordable site out there. We made it our number one pick not just for these reasons, but also because they have a stellar reputation, and their customer service team is friendly, informative, and quick to respond.
How reliable are background check companies?
Background check services aren’t all the same. Some are better than others—hence this list! A reputable company does tons of work on your behalf, and they also make it very clear how you should not use the information provided. These aren’t typical employment background checks, and they can’t be used for employment of any kind, even if you’re just hiring a housekeeper or a babysitter.
These types of background checks are meant for personal use only. If you’re a landlord, these can’t be used for tenant screening. You can’t use background checks to assess professional services, determine any kind of educational qualifications, or make decisions about credit eligibility. Make sure you’re only using these background check sites for your own personal knowledge and nothing else.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a federal law that was enacted to ensure consumer credit information is always accurate and private. It’s designed to ensure fairness and regulates the way credit reporting agencies use the data they collect about you. This law is meant to protect consumers. For example, if the information shown on your credit report is the reason for the denial of an application, you have the right to know. Additionally, you have the right to request access to all the details listed on your credit report. When you have access like this, you can correct any errors and you’re in a more empowered position to ensure all the information being reported about you is completely accurate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act also sets forth rules on how you can use the information from background checks. As discussed above, background check reports are limited to personal use only.
Are free searches as good as background checks?
Put simply, no. You can certainly find out some details with a free search. If you’re not looking for a deep dive into court records, property records or someone’s employment history, then you could be satisfied with a simple free search. However, there’s no way you get the depth of information in the amount of time you would with a background check service if you try on your own. It’s not to say you’re not skilled with your research abilities, it’s just that the algorithms for the best background check services work exponentially faster than you.