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The Best Background Check Services for Uncovering the Truth

Dave Platt

Whether you're doing it for the safety of your family, or you're just plain curious about an ex; online background checks can be a very useful tool. There are a dozen reasons to run one, and the best background check companies can get your answers in minutes.

So what is a background check, how much does it cost, and which are the best background check sites to go with for fast, convenient, and of course, confidential results? There are lots of options from high end to really cheap background check services, and you want to make sure you're getting your money's worth without getting ripped off. So, dig in to find out everything you want to know.

Here are our best background check services, updated for 2021.

Criminal records searches, screening numbers
Accurate and thorough reports
Discount trial period, faster, easier process
Sleek reporting, great first-month offer
Finding people you’re looking for
Digging up buried info, most search options
Fast results, people search directory
User-friendly, extensive reporting
From $17.16 per month
From $27.78 per month
From $27.82 per month
From $14.95 per month
From $4.95 per month
From $14.95 per month
$9.95per month
From $14.62per month
Public records, criminal records+
Social networks, Dark Web, public records+
Criminal records, sex offender database+
Background checks, criminal records+
Background checks, criminal background
Property records, social media reports+
Current location, sex offender status+
Property records, known relatives+
People, reverse phone lookup
People search, dark web, public records
Email, location, reverse, phone, people, inmate lookup
Name, phone, address
People search, reverse phone number, reverse email address
People search, reverse phone, email search, social network search, property search
People search, reverse phone lookup
People, phone, email, property
None
iOS and Android apps
iOS and Android apps
iOS and Android apps
iOS and Android apps
None
None
iOS and Android apps

The Best Background Check Services - An In-Depth Look

  • 1
    Check People

    Check People

    • Best forCriminal records searches, screening numbers
    • PricingFrom $17.16 per month
    • Reports offeredPublic records, criminal records+

    CheckPeople is a background check site that focuses most of its attention on criminal records, including arrests, prosecutions, and mugshots. You'll also receive other important information like current and prior addresses, immediate and distant relatives, and marriage and divorce records. If you are trying to figure out if someone is who they say they are, you can browse through possible aliases and alternate social media accounts taken out under various names.

    CheckPeople offers reasonable monthly rates, and you can run unlimited people searches for a low price. What's more, every search done through CheckPeople is completely confidential. Nobody can see who you're searching for, and the person you run a background check on will never find out.

    Pros
    • Specializes in online criminal background checks
    • Billions of records to search
    • Unlimited search with monthly plans
    Cons
    • No employment records
    • No pricing info published
  • 2
    TruthFinder

    TruthFinder

    • Best forAccurate and thorough reports
    • PricingFrom $27.78 per month
    • Reports offeredSocial networks, Dark Web, public records+

    TruthFinder is a basic public records search engine. It allows you to find a whole slew of information on people from birth and death records, to possible relatives and relationships. Anyone can use the service to find information about potential dates, possible roomies, or long lost relatives you’re trying to rebuild a relationship with. TruthFinder packs a lot of info into its reports, including assets, business affiliations, trademarks, bankruptcies, weapons permits, professional licenses, and more. 

    TruthFinder is easy to use for searching for social media profiles, contact information, and other public records. The site can be a valuable tool if you’re trying to get information on a new romantic partner, online seller, or family member you’ve lost contact with. TruthFinder is also useful if you want to check if your child’s school teacher, softball coach, or new neighbor is on a sex offender registry.

    Pros
    • Unlimited background checks with plan
    • Easy to sign up
    • Loads of info in the reports
    Cons
    • Can’t buy a single report
    • Have to manually cancel auto-renewal
  • 3
    Instant Checkmate

    Instant Checkmate

    • Best forDiscount trial period, faster, easier process
    • PricingFrom $27.82 per month
    • Reports offeredCriminal records, sex offender database+

    Wondering what your favorite celeb does in their free time? Need to find info about a hot date you’re interested in? Or maybe you want to know if the new friend your son brought home comes from a stable family. Whatever your reasons, Instant Checkmate is available to get you the answers you need. With extensive public records access, Instant Checkmate delivers loads of information within minutes. And with affordable plans, you can run multiple checks without worrying.

    Instant Checkmate pulls data from official public records, court documents, police records, government databases, and online sources like social media accounts, and more. You’re getting solid information from real sources. And what’s more, Instant Checkmate donates to a variety of charities and non-profits as a way of giving back to the community.

    Pros
    • 5-day trial for $1
    • Extensive customer support
    • Lots of extra information on the site
    Cons
    • No detailed pricing page
    • Reports take a long time to load
  • 4
    Intelius

    Intelius

    • Best forSleek reporting, great first-month offer
    • PricingFrom $14.95 per month
    • Reports offeredBackground checks, criminal records+

    Intelius is one of the most popular public data background check engines available today. It’s used for everything from identity protection, to criminal records scanning, Intelius is a secure, reliable, and thorough way to get information you need fast.

    With Intelius, you can do basic background checks, people searches, and reverse phone or address lookups. For example, this is helpful if you are being harassed by an anonymous  prank caller. Intelius also offers in-depth reports that include full names and aliases, age and date of birth, employment and education records, social networks, and much more. With Intelius Premium Plus membership, customers can run unlimited background checks for one flat fee.

    Pros
    • First-time members get 50% off Premium Plus plans
    • Intelligent, secure searches
    • Reports are fast
    Cons
    • Plans double in price after the first month
    • Some searches turn up multiple possibilities
  • 5
    People Finders

    People Finders

    • Best forFinding people you’re looking for
    • PricingFrom $4.95 per month
    • Reports offeredBackground checks, criminal background

    PeopleFinders is one of the oldest background check companies around today. In business for more than 20 years, PeopleFinders has more than 10 billion public records to search through.  When you're looking for information, and it feels like there's no stone left unturned. You can get background checks, people searches, criminal reports, or even use a reverse lookup for phone numbers as well as email addresses.

    PeopleFinders has a cool feature that lets you look up people based on their genealogical history. So, you get their relatives along with any info about the specific person you’re searching for. This is incredible if you are researching a possible relative you’ve never met. What’s more, PeopleFinders offers single report pricing, something that most other background check sites do not do.

    Pros
    • Genealogical pathfinder
    • One-report pricing available
    • Billions of records
    Cons
    • No social media info
    • Employment history is vague
  • 6
    US Search

    US Search

    • Best forDigging up buried info, most search options
    • PricingFrom $14.95 per month
    • Reports offeredProperty records, social media reports+

    US Search is a PeopleData-driven background check search engine. Even if you haven’t used this popular service before, you might recognize the name since it's been featured on prominent news channels, including The Wall Street Journal and 60 Minutes. It’s a fast and efficient way to get acess to criminal records such as sex offender records,  felonies, and misdemeanors. 


    With this background check site, you can search local databases, state registries, or even full nationwide database searches, depending on what you need to find out. US Search also offers the most search options possible gathering specific types of information. You can run a people search, a reverse phone lookup, an email search, a social network search, a property records search, and a criminal records search, as well as a complete background check.

    Pros
    • More search options than most
    • Get a money-back guarantee
    • Extensive search databases
    Cons
    • Not the cheapest option
    • Reports could be organized better
  • 7
    ID True

    ID True

    • Best forFast results, people search directory
    • Pricing$9.95per month
    • Reports offeredCurrent location, sex offender status+

    Whether you need to take control of your own online presence or want to know more information about a questionable party in your life, ID True makes it simple to get the details you need quickly and painlessly. You can run a completely anonymous search on anyone in the United States confidentially and without anyone ever knowing. You’ll unearth lots of interesting information with these reports, including hidden social media accounts, criminal records and arrests, sex offender status, and any known business associates.

    ID True will deliver results in under a minute, something that most other background check companies can’t come close to offering. You’ll be able to run a manual search, sort results by last name, or launch a full background check on that person of interest. ID True even has a welcome offer for new members that gives you the first month for almost a quarter of the regular price. It’s well worth the trial to see what ID True is all about.

    Pros
    • Excellent first-time offer
    • Easy-to-use search features
    • Fastest results
    Cons
    • Very expensive after the first month
    • Not as many search options as others
  • 8
    People Looker

    People Looker

    • Best forUser-friendly, extensive reporting
    • PricingFrom $14.62per month
    • Reports offeredProperty records, known relatives+

    There are many ways you can use PeopleLooker. If you're trying to find an old friend or a relative you've lost touch with, need to get information on a potential love interest, or want to get some background details on a potential tenant, PeopleLooker is a great place to look.

    What’s more, many people use PeopleLooker to get information on things that aren’t necessarily people. For example, if you’re looking into a property, you can get more information, such as the number of owners, who lived there previously, and who most recently sold the property.

    PeopleLooker offers reliable and up-to-date information, so the records included in your report are accurate and complete.

    Pros
    • Great app
    • Nice user interface
    • Email, property, and phone lookups
    Cons
    • Have to pay more for certain parts
    • Can’t use it to hire household workers

What Is a Background Check?

An online background check service meticulously scours all corners of the web to gather information about the person you're searching for. Most of the records the services have access to are records you could theoretically find yourself, but it would take you weeks, if not months to get the info you need. Background check services can flip through millions of files and produce a detailed report for you in under five minutes.

Online background checks go beyond just criminal records – they can dig up credit history, employment history, financial records, and other information that shows the life someone has lived and also confirm their identity.

What Information Is Included in a Background Check? 

The concept is intriguing for a lot of people but what does a background check show exactly. There are several layers of background checks you can run from very basic information to really detailed criminal background checks.

Usually, the depth you go into with your reporting will depend on why you are doing the background check. For example, if you are just trying to spy on an ex-boyfriend, you might not dig as deeply as if, say, you were doing a background check for employment at a high-level security firm.

The most common background checks companies run today include:

  • Criminal background checks
  • Background checks for employment
  • Universal background checks
  • OIG background checks
  • E-Verify background checks
  • Credit background checks
  • Personal background checks
  • Professional licenses background checks
  • International background checks

Most will contain general information about the person, including phone numbers and addresses associated with the person along with age and date of birth. It will also contain more detailed information, such as criminal and arrest records, employment history, and education. A few more items that can be included in a background check are:

  • Civil records
  • Relatives 
  • Marriage licenses
  • Other types of licenses (professional)
  • References
  • Driving history
  • Sexual offender registry listings
  • Credit 
  • Military records
  • Photographs
  • Bankruptcies
  • Weapons permits
  • Aliases 
  • Social media profiles
  • Wikipedia pages
  • Personal websites
  • Blogs 
  • Liens

And more, depending on the background check company and policies you’re working with.

Why Would You Use a Background Check?

With the permission of the person in question, companies considering applicants for employment or a loan often carry out checks in order to cover all their bases and make sure the person won't be a liability for the company. In addition to an employment background check, on a more personal level, these days, more and more people are using background checks to screen potential childcare professionals. Before trusting someone with their children, many people opt to do a background screen on the potential babysitter or nanny, even if they've already undergone an agency screening. Some landlords may also opt to do a rental background check on potential renters with their consent.

When considering using a background check, it's important to take into consideration the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which is a federal law that regulates the collection of consumers' credit information and access to their credit reports.

It's worth noting that employment decisions, rental screening and credit based decisions cannot legally be made using a background check service that isn't FCRA compliant.

What To Look for in a Quality Background Check Service?

Report Information Accuracy

Inaccurate reports not only stand in the way of you meeting your needs, but they can also set you up for expensive liabilities. The best background check services will have a reputation for accuracy and professionalism that will help you make an informed decision.

Search Customization

It’s good to cast a wide net, but not all background checks are the same. You may want to be more specific and focus on employment history or financial records, and you need a company that can really narrow down the results to what you’re looking for. A top background check service will have different levels of background screenings so that you’re always getting the information you need for your situation.

Ease of Use

You're not a private detective, and you shouldn't need any professional or tech know-how to navigate a background check site. The best background check websites should be easy-to-use and provide information in a format that is simple and clear. The best services provide you with the easiest method possible and the fastest turnaround time.

Customer Support

Top background checks will have a strong customer support team that knows the ins and outs of the field, and will be able to answer whatever questions you may have. If for some reason your search keeps running into walls; they should be able to tell you why. Furthermore, record search companies should be focused on getting the best results for their customers, and not trying to upsell searches that may not be relevant to what you need.

A paid search is a great way to find the information that you need but may not be able to find on your own. With most paid companies, the information will be collected and sent to you in a format that is easy to read and well organized.

How Much Do Background Check Services Cost?

So you’ve gone down the rabbit hole, and now you’re wondering how much a background check costs. With all the services out there you can run a cheap background check for roughly $10. The actual price you pay for your report will depend on how much information you want in the report, how many reports or checks you plan on running, and how frequently you want to use the service.

For example, if you’re doing this for business (i.e., a background check for employment purposes), the best background check companies will usually offer monthly plans to make continuous checks more affordable. Good companies like BeenVerified offer single month memberships for as little as $26.89 and 3-month memberships for just $17.48 a month for unlimited reports and more.

But even if you want to just run a single check, you can find affordable options. One-off checks are available for approximately $20 a piece. And considering most people don't even know how to do a background check for themselves, a service that can pull all that information for you in minutes is well worth the few bucks you'll pay.

The type of report you want will also determine the price. For example, a county criminal record could cost you just $5, a state criminal background check will cost you roughly $13-$20, and a more advanced national criminal package could run you over $70. And of course, prices will vary from one background check site to the next. Here’s a list of some common checks that are run and their prices:

  • County criminal records: $5-$20
  • State criminal records: $8-$20
  • Federal criminal records: $8-$15
  • Sex offender status: $0-$10
  • Records of terrorist activity: $0-$5
  • Motor vehicle records: $3-$10
  • SSN verification: $0-$10
  • Education verification: $7-$15
  • Employment verification: $7-$15
  • Professional license checks: $7-$15
  • Credit background check: $5-$12

Depending on what type of information, how often you want to run a background check, how many different people you want to run background checks on, etc. it may be worthwhile for you to pay for a monthly membership because it will work out to be cheaper for you at the end of the day.

Purchasing a Background Check Service

Spend a little time on Google, and you should be able to find at least a minimal amount of information about people you know. You may find social media accounts, blog posts, and even news articles in which they may have been mentioned. 

Searching the internet yourself may work for people you already know a bit about, but it may not work as well for a potential date, for example. If you really want to get an extensive and well-organized report, you’re going to need to use a paid background check service. When you consider costs, you may find it's not as expensive as you thought.

Paid background searches can help you find out about any skeletons that a new neighbor may be hiding, and they can also help you find out if there’s anything about you that can potentially be unearthed and used against you.

A word of caution, though – the Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits the use of background checks for employment decisions or tenant screening unless you inform them beforehand, and they agree in writing. Most paid background check companies state this on their websites.

Dave Platt
David Platt writes for top10.com. He developed an extensive working knowledge of background check and data management services in his time providing support for military access credentials with respected biometric security service provider SureID. He has further developed his internet security skills in completing a Bachelors of Science degree at Portland State University.