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Top 10 Best Online Background Check Sites & Companies in 2024

Erin Donaghue - Top10 Writer
Top 10 Best Online Background Check Sites & Companies

The world of online background check sites has evolved to offer diverse solutions for various needs – from reconnecting with lost relatives to enhancing personal safety and professional due diligence. 

Our curated list of the Top 10 Online Background Check Services for 2024 is more than just a ranking; it is a guide to peace of mind and informed decision-making.

This guide explores the unique features, pricing models, and strengths of each service. Whether you are an individual verifying a potential date's background, an employer vetting a prospective employee, or someone investigating legal options, the accuracy and completeness of the information are key. 

Our evaluation, informed by expert opinions and current industry trends, aims to provide you with the necessary knowledge and options. Covering services that prioritize privacy to those offering detailed legal information, we cater to the diverse needs of our users.

We explore each service's innovative approach to uncovering truths and bringing clarity in a world overwhelmed with data. With a focus on user experience, legal compliance, and technological innovation, our guide goes beyond just identifying the best background check service. It's about choosing a trustworthy partner in your quest for accurate and actionable information.

Our Top 10 Best Online Background Check Sites and Companies:

  • BeenVerified - Best background check site overall
  • Intelius - Best for quick access to detailed reports
  • PeopleFinders - Best for accessing billions of public records
  • US Search - Best for obtaining unlimited reports
  • PeopleWhiz - Best for accurate reports
  • TruthFinder - Best for people searches
  • PeopleLooker - Best for unclaimed money searches
  • CheckPeople - Best for criminal record searches
  • Instant Checkmate - Best for reverse phone lookups
  • ID True - Best for basic background checks
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Our Review Methodology: Evaluating the Best Background Check Sites & Services

We used the same seven comparison factors to ensure fair ratings for each of the 10 background check services listed in this review. Still, some factors will be more important to you than others, depending on your needs and the type of search you're conducting. Here's how we compared these details to land on what we feel are the best background check sites:

  • Pricing: We looked at how affordable the service is and how much you get for what you pay. We also considered available free trials and promo periods (if any).
  • Legal standing: We checked if the site is FCRA-compliant and can be used for employment, housing, or other federally regulated purposes.
  • Reports offered: We checked which services offer people searches (which include criminal history and public records, as well as unclaimed money searches); business searches; and reverse phone, email, and address lookups.
  • Search parameters: We looked at how many search parameters the service offers. We also checked if it supports social media username searches, people searches, phone number and email reverse lookups, and property searches.
  • Smartphone apps: We checked whether the service has a smartphone app, and if it does, how useful it is.
  • Ease of use: We evaluated each service's usability and the readability of its reports. We also checked whether it supports any extra functionality that sets it apart.
  • Customer support: We assessed how many support channels are available, what their working hours are, and how helpful the customer service is.

The Best Background Check Sites & Services - Quick Reviews:

  • 1
    BeenVerified

    BeenVerified

    • Best forSocial media username searches
    • PricingFrom $26.89/month
    • Reports offeredPeople searches, social media searches, vehicle lookup

    BeenVerified's web search is extensive and delivers results within minutes. It scours billions of records from public data sources and the deep web, turning up a wealth of information like address history, phone numbers, education and employment history, and criminal history.

    While most background check services require consumers to enter search terms like a name, phone number, or address, BeenVerified includes an additional social media search option (which looks at more than 120 social media networks). This allows customers who only have a person's username to run a background check.

    This is especially helpful for anyone conducting business transactions via social media who wants to avoid falling victim to scams, which, according to the Federal Trade Commission, are rising. In 2021, more than 95,000 people reported losing nearly $770 million to social media fraud—up from $258 million in 2020.

    Why we chose BeenVerified: BeenVerified offers affordable access to public record information with seven different search options for a single monthly subscription fee. It also has a satisfaction guarantee, which promises users one-on-one assistance or a refund if they're unhappy with the results.

    Our experience: We like that BeenVerified lets users monitor any changes on previously run reports. But while this service provides mostly accurate results, our report did contain a few addresses, emails, and academic institutions that weren't associated with the subject of our search.

    Pros
    • Provides seven search options in one
    • Offers a seven-day trial period for $1
    • Searches billions of records
    Cons
    • Reports per month are capped at 100 
    • Search results are not always completely accurate
  • 2
    Intelius

    Intelius

    • Best forA variety of pricing options and trial periods
    • PricingFrom $24.86/month
    • Reports offeredPeople searches, reverse phone lookup, criminal records searches

    Intelius has a variety of search term options and pricing plans, which makes it a perfect fit if you know exactly what kind of information you're looking for. While many other background check providers require a flat monthly fee for all services, Intelius allows users to choose a monthly plan specific to the type of search they're most interested in.

    For example, someone using the service to look up details about homes in their neighborhood could choose Intelius's unlimited reverse address lookup plan. With it, they can find property history, ownership information, property tax details, property value, and contact information. 

    In contrast, someone interested in conducting background checks could choose the site's unlimited people search plan. For the price of the plan, they get criminal history, social media, address history, photos, relatives and associates, lawsuits and civil judgments, traffic violations, and financial history.

    These search options, including the criminal records search, public records search, and people search, are all available directly from the site's homepage. But because the pricing structure varies according to search type, knowing how much you'll need to pay for a particular service can become confusing. 

    Why we chose Intelius: Intelius regularly updates its search engine to ensure it consistently delivers quick, confidential, and accurate results. It is one of the most thorough background check services available and has access to over 20 billion public records. 

    Our experience: We were impressed by the various types of unlimited searches and different pricing plan options offered by Intelius. But we encountered several "special offers" during the pre-billing process, which made it difficult to determine each service's monthly cost. For example, the unlimited address search plan was initially advertised as $29 a month but was later reduced to a special price of $4.99 during checkout.

    Pros
    • Provides multiple search options
    • Offers various trial periods
    • Has access to 20 billion public records
    Cons
    • Confusing pricing structure
    • Subscription cancellation can be lengthy
  • 3
    PeopleFinders

    PeopleFinders

    • Best forBusinesses seeking scalable options
    • PricingFrom $24.95/month
    • Reports offeredPeople searches, reverse phone and email lookup, public record searches

    Launched in 1999, PeopleFinders is one of the most established online background check services on the market. It has access to over 120 billion public records from more than 6,000 data sources with search term options including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses. 

    It also offers tools to help users fine-tune their search results when looking for targets with common names.

    PeopleFinders's people search turns up contact information, criminal history, information relating to liens and judgments, property and owned assets, education history, work references, and marriage records. However, it doesn't pull up any social media history.

    Why we chose PeopleFinders: We're impressed by the company's long tenure in the background check industry and its unparalleled records access, which makes reconnecting with lost contacts effortless.

    Our experience: We found PeopleFinders' search engine easy to use—both on the website and the smartphone app. It allowed us to run an advanced search, narrowing our focus according to the subject's age range and middle name. It also delivered results in under two minutes.

    Pros
    • Access to an immense amount of data
    • Long-standing service
    • Offers a first-month introductory rate of $9.95
    Cons
    • No trial period
    • Reports do not include social media history
  • 4
    US Search

    US Search

    • Best forEasy and affordable access to public records
    • PricingFrom $19.86/month
    • Reports offeredCriminal record searches, reverse phone, email, and address lookup

    US Search has been in business for more than 25 years. It quickly combs through millions of public records from federal and local sources—including each state—and pulls up a detailed report. 

    These include criminal history, traffic infractions, address history, contact information, data about personal assets like homes or cars, financial info like bankruptcies or liens, social media profiles, relatives and associates, and date of birth. 

    It has an intuitive web interface that allows users to search via name, phone number, email address, or physical address. It also gives customers access to detailed preliminary reports to confirm whether it has found the correct search target. This is especially useful if you're looking for someone with a common name.

    Why we chose US Search: US Search stores all previous searches on users' account dashboards and allows them to download and print reports whenever they need to. Plus, US Search's focus on customer service, affordable monthly pricing, and long-standing tenure in the industry contribute to consumer confidence.

    Our experience: We liked that US Search delivered our results reasonably quickly and allowed us to check if it located the right person before asking us to sign up for a monthly subscription. While we'd prefer to pay for a once-off search, we thought this service's monthly subscription was very affordable.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive monthly subscription
    • Provides an easy-to-use search engine
    • Allows unlimited access to printable PDF reports
    Cons
    • No trial period
    • Searches occasionally produce duplicate results
  • 5
    PeopleWhiz

    PeopleWhiz

    • Best forFlexible pricing options and special offers
    • PricingFrom $27.99/month
    • Reports offeredPeople searches, criminal history searches, social media searches

    PeopleWhiz scours billions of public records to turn up information including criminal history, marriage and divorce records, traffic infractions, bankruptcies and judgments, address history, contact information, associates and relatives, licenses, and permits. 

    It also searches popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

    Notably, the site uses proprietary technology to ensure search functions don't turn up false hits on people with the same name. PeopleWhiz has an in-house team of "bad data" watchdogs to comb through public records and filter out errors, increasing the accuracy of their reports.

    While PeopleWhiz provides comprehensive and easy-to-read background reports, the wait time was the lengthiest of the background check sites reviewed here—we had to wait nearly 10 minutes for our report to generate. The functionality is also limited to people searches, with no apparent option for a phone number, email, or physical address search.

    Why we chose PeopleWhiz: With access to 67 billion records, PeopleWhiz is a solid option for comprehensive name-based background check searches. Its proprietary search tech, which reduces false hits on people who aren't the search subject, is also a must-have feature for anyone looking to find accurate results.

    Our experience: We were impressed that PeopleWhiz searched over 100 social sites. We didn't encounter any false hits during our test search, a common pitfall for many other online background check services. However, we were slightly frustrated with the lengthy report generation time.

    Pros
    • Searches more than 100 social media sites
    • Conducts a comprehensive people search
    • Proprietary technology ensures accurate reports
    Cons
    • Relatively long wait time for report generation
    • Limited search functionality
  • 6
    TruthFinder

    TruthFinder

    • Best forReconnecting with friends and family
    • PricingFrom $28.05/month ($4.99/month for reverse phone lookups)
    • Reports offeredPeople searches, social media searches, reverse phone lookup

    TruthFinder is one of the most popular background check services for people searches. It's an invaluable resource for consumers looking to reconnect with a friend, family member, or colleague as it supports multiple search methods and provides thorough checks. Depending on the membership level, TruthFinder allows users to search by name, address, phone number, or email address.

    Like other services we evaluated, TruthFinder's full background check report includes contact information, address history, social media usernames, academic records, employment history, information on associates, dating profiles, personal assets, criminal history, business information, and licenses.

    A monthly membership gives you access to unlimited background searches. However, some services cost extra, like unlimited phone and email searches, printable PDF reports, report monitoring, and dark web searches.

    Why we chose TruthFinder: TruthFinder offers dark web monitoring services, which scour the darker parts of the web to see if your personal information is being sold there. According to the Dark Web Price Index 2022, more than 9,000 vendors are actively selling personal information products on the deep web. This includes approximately 4.5 million credit cards, sold at $120 each.

    Our experience: We liked the convenient "timeline" feature that showcases report highlights in chronological order and the "report quality score," which let us gauge the accuracy of the information included in our report. Our test report, for example, had a few stray email addresses, phone numbers, and photos that weren't associated with the subject of our search. 

    Pros
    • Variety in search options
    • Delivers well-organized, chronological reports
    • Allows unlimited background searches
    Cons
    • Some add-on services require additional payments
    • No trial period
  • 7
    PeopleLooker

    PeopleLooker

    • Best forRunning background checks on a potential date
    • PricingFrom $22.86/month
    • Reports offeredSocial media searches, business searches, unclaimed money searches

    PeopleLooker provides a wide variety of search options. Users can search by name, phone number, email address, property, social media username, or business name. Plus, they can also conduct an unclaimed money search. 

    This service's people search crawls millions of public records to uncover information like criminal records, contact details, employment verifications, traffic violations, assets, relatives and associates, financial information, education history, and social media profiles.

    PeopleLooker offers a useful monitoring option that notifies you of any updates on your previously-run reports. It also features a mobile app, which provides the same search term options as the desktop site, plus an additional dark web search.

    Why we chose PeopleLooker: PeopleLooker's unique search options, like the unclaimed money search and business name search, make it stand out from competitors. 

    Our experience: We had a positive experience using PeopleLooker's mobile app, which is easier to use than its desktop site. While both provide sleek and simple interfaces, the app more clearly lays out the variety of search term options available to users, which is one of the service's best features. On the desktop site, we found it challenging to locate the social media search functionality.

    Pros
    • Provides unique search options
    • Offers a report monitoring feature
    • User-friendly mobile app
    Cons
    • Requires additional payments for certain information
    • Reports per month are capped at 100
  • 8
    CheckPeople

    CheckPeople

    • Best forEasy-to-understand organized reports
    • PricingFrom $29.16/month
    • Reports offeredPeople searches, reverse phone lookup, criminal record searches

    CheckPeople draws from public information on the deep web, such as court and sex offender databases, providing a comprehensive background check report in an easy-to-read format. This report may contain contact information, social media profiles, address history, financial information like bankruptcies and liens, personal asset information, business history, and any registered licenses.

    CheckPeople's searches, which span multiple jurisdictions, can deliver a complete criminal profile of your search subject with up-to-date information in a matter of minutes. 

    According to a recent Social Science Research study, the number of people with felony criminal records in the US has increased significantly. An estimated 19 million people, or 8% of the American population, have felony criminal convictions. Of those, 12 million have served their sentences in the community while on probation. 

    CheckPeople specializes in online criminal background checks. It allows users to run arrest record searches directly from the homepage and scours information from superior courts, district courts, and county sheriff websites. CheckPeople searches for felony or misdemeanor arrests and convictions, and even mug shots.

    Why we chose CheckPeople: CheckPeople offers unlimited, instant searches for a flat monthly fee—which means you won't have to pay per search. And while its pricing is buried in the fine print, you can get access to a three-day trial for $4.99. 

    Our experience: When we ran a reverse phone number search on CheckPeople, it turned up social media sites and other deep web information associated with the phone number. We think this is a valuable feature, especially since search subjects generally don't know that online checks can trace this data back to them.

    Pros
    • Allows unlimited monthly searches
    • Offers a three-day trial for $4.99
    • Ensures searches are 100% confidential
    Cons
    • Unclear pricing structure
    • Doesn't deliver around-the-clock customer support
  • 9
    Instant Checkmate

    Instant Checkmate

    • Best forImmediate access to background check results
    • PricingFrom $35.12/month ($5.99/month for reverse phone lookups)
    • Reports offeredCriminal history searches, inmate lookup, reverse phone lookup

    Instant Checkmate combs through millions of data points and publicly available information sources to provide thorough background check reports. 

    Its full monthly subscription gives users access to various search functions that can pull up tons of information on a subject. This includes their relatives and relationships, social media accounts, criminal history, employment history, data about bankruptcies and liens, licenses, and address history.

    In particular, Instant Checkmate's reverse phone lookup subscription is an affordable way to conduct quick background checks on suspected scam calls. The service also allows its members to run a tailored criminal history search and pull up crime statistics according to city, state, or zip code. 

    Why we chose Instant Checkmate: This service delivers detailed results in under five minutes. Its ability to look up federal inmates, a unique feature we didn't find on the other sites we reviewed, also sets it apart from other background check providers. 

    Our experience: Each search tab, both on Instant Checkmate's website and its mobile app, clearly explained what kind of information the sections required. This helped us know exactly what we needed to include. We also liked that we could search for traffic and criminal records directly from the homepage.

    Pros
    • Offers an affordable phone search plan
    • Supports federal inmate lookup
    • Provides a tailored criminal history search option
    Cons
    • Price points vary between the website and mobile app
    • Expensive monthly subscription plan
  • 10
    ID True
    • Best forAccurate and up-to-date information
    • PricingFrom $24.95/month
    • Reports offeredReverse phone lookup, people searches, criminal records

    ID True is a good basic option for consumers looking for information on potential dates, old friends, lost family members, or neighbors. It even allows you to run personal background checks on yourself. 

    There isn't an app for this service but the website works well on mobile. Users can search on the go with a name or phone number but unfortunately, ID True doesn't provide an option to search by email or physical address like other services we tried. 

    ID True searches millions of federal, state, and local records and turns up contact information, location information, criminal history and sex offender status, relatives and associates, verdicts and fines, property information, and marriage and divorce records. The service can also find social media and dating profile accounts. 

    Why we chose ID True: With a mobile-friendly website that provides easy-to-read report details on any device, ID True enables users to run thorough background checks on the go.

    Our experience: We liked that ID True pulled up preliminary results for our search in under a minute, which let us choose the correct search subject based on name, location, age, and possible relatives. However, we would've liked additional options to conduct a more refined search through email and physical addresses.

    Pros
    • Intuitive mobile interface
    • Allows unlimited background searches
    • Suitable for basic background checks
    Cons
    • No online cancellation
    • No email or physical address search option


*Note that these services are not compliant with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and, therefore, can't be used for employment or tenant screenings.

Comparing the Top Background Check Sites & Services

When comparing background check companies, you'll need to keep your specific research needs in mind. Whether your search is to verify online businesses, find out who's been calling you, ensure personal safety, or locate people, you should look at comparison factors. There could include pricing, what kind of reports are offered, the type of information you can use to conduct a search, ease of use, mobile functionality, and customer support.

For each of the 10 background check services we recommend, we've compiled all of these features in the chart below, giving you an easy way to compare and contrast the different features and pricing.

How Does a Background Check Work?

A background search uses various online services and tools as well as publicly available information to uncover details about someone's background, like criminal history, location history, social media accounts, financial information, traffic and court records, education and employment history, and more. While it's possible to search public records manually, the process would be more arduous and time-consuming than using a background check service. 

Typically, someone using a background check company would enter a person's name into the service's online search tool. The company would then deliver a detailed report with background information on the search subject. This process usually takes five minutes or less. 

Some background check services also allow consumers to search by phone number, email address, physical address, or social media username. And while many providers require users to sign up for a monthly subscription rather than purchase a single report, some do offer trial periods.

Reasons To Use Background Check Services?

There are many reasons to use an online background check service. Some people conduct background checks on new neighbors or potential online dates to ensure their personal safety. Others use background screening services to connect with family or friends they've lost touch with or to look up their names to see what information is publicly available. 

Background checks are also commonly used by employers to vet potential hires and by landlords to review possible tenants. But these screenings must be done through companies that comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other federal, state, and local regulations.

Choosing the Right Background Check Company

When looking for a background check company, you have to consider what you'll be using the service for—like finding a lost relative or researching suspected spam callers—and find a subscription plan that will meet these needs and is within your budget. 

For example, if you're looking to investigate criminal records, you'll want to be sure the service you use has access to federal, state, and local court databases. And if you need to use a background check service for employment or other federally regulated purposes, ensure you are using a service that is FCRA-compliant.

The background check service you choose should provide accurate reports, customizable searches, an easy-to-use web and mobile interface, and excellent customer service that's accessible by phone, chat, or email. It should also include a variety of available search term options, such as name, phone number, email, address, and social media username. 

Here are a few important factors to consider when choosing an online background check company:

Accuracy of Report Information

You should research whether the online background check service has a reputation for delivering accurate information in its reports and is committed to privacy.  

Some background check services will turn up information on people who are not the subject of your search or include information that's not associated with your target, like social media accounts, addresses, or phone numbers. User reviews should give you a good sense of how accurate a service's report information is. Of the services we tried, PeopleWhiz delivered the most accurate background checks.

Search Customization 

Search customization is essential, especially for consumers who want to conduct a background check but only have someone's phone number, email address, physical address, or social media username.

Some background check services, like Intelius and PeopleFinders, give users various search customization options outside of people lookups or allow them to conduct a more tailored check—for example, running a criminal history search rather than a general background search.

Ease of Use

Your background check service should be user-friendly and provide information in well-organized, easy-to-read reports. This is especially relevant to users who want to conduct multiple searches. CheckPeople, for example, allows unlimited searches and delivers well-organized reports. 

Many background check services will provide an online dashboard where you can save and organize your searches—some, like US Search, even allow you to print PDF versions of your reports.

Customer Support

Good customer support is vital for any online background check service, so users feel confident that any issues they may encounter will be resolved quickly. Find out whether the service offers online or phone-based customer support (ideally, both). 

Carefully review the background check service's cancellation policy to determine whether they permit online cancellation or require you to call a service line to cancel your subscription—especially if you plan to cancel before your trial period expires. We found that TruthFinder and PeopleLooker offer outstanding customer support, with options to cancel your subscription online or by phone.

Legal Compliance and Privacy

When conducting background checks, it is crucial to understand the legal framework and privacy considerations involved. Employers and organizations must comply with federal and state laws, ensuring that the information they gather and use is permissible and used ethically.

Background checks typically involve searching through various public records, including criminal records, arrest records, and contact details. It's important to remember that these checks must respect the rights of the individual, adhering to regulations set by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other relevant legislation. 

Additionally, consent from the person being checked is often required. Transparency in the process and safeguarding the privacy and rights of individuals are key to maintaining legal compliance and ethical standards in background checks. 

How Much Do Background Check Services Cost?

Pricing for background check services typically varies between $20 and $30 a month. And many require users to sign up for a monthly subscription for unlimited reports rather than allowing single-report purchases. Generally, the monthly price will be cheaper if you sign up for an extended subscription. However, many services require you to pay the cost of a full subscription (such as three or six months) upfront. 

Some background check providers have cheaper subscription options for specific services—like Instant Checkmate's unlimited phone search option, which will only cost you $5.99/month. Others such as BeenVerified, also offer trial periods, making them practical for people interested in conducting a single search. 

Information Included in Different Types of Background Checks

Consumers can conduct background checks for various reasons—from employment verification to gun safety checks and criminal history reports—where each check will unearth different kinds of information. 

To help you key in on what you'll need, we've identified some of the most common types of background checks and what kind of data they usually uncover.

Criminal Background Checks

A criminal background check searches federal, state, and local court databases for information about felony or misdemeanor charges and convictions. Someone might conduct this type of search on a potential online date to uncover whether they've ever been convicted of a felony.

Background Checks for Employment

Employers will often run background checks on prospective employees during the hiring process to confirm their employment history, uncover any criminal history relevant to their job duties, and double-check their work eligibility. For example, someone seeking to hire a nanny might run a background check to confirm they've worked for the previous employers they listed on their resume.

Education Verification

Education verification is typically an element of a pre-employment background screening run by an employer on a potential job candidate. The employer might call the university the candidate has listed in their resume to confirm their graduation date and ensure the candidate isn't misrepresenting themselves.

Reference Checks

A reference check is usually also an element of a pre-employment background screening. Employers may call a candidate's previous employers or colleagues to confirm their skillset, responsibility, and work ethic.

Universal Background Checks

People who want to buy firearms from a licensed dealer in the US must pass a background check to ensure they aren't restricted from owning guns for reasons such as domestic violence or other felony convictions. Gun safety advocates are pushing for universal background checks, which would close a loophole that allows gun purchases in some states from unlicensed sellers (such as gun show sellers or online sellers) without a background check.

OIG Background Checks

When hiring, employers in the healthcare industry typically search the US Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's exclusion list for healthcare professionals who can't participate in federally-funded health programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Those on the OIG's exclusion list may have been convicted of serious charges like fraud, abuse, or neglect.

E-Verify Background Checks

E-Verify is an online background check system that allows employers to compare a job candidate's information against US government records, such as those from the Homeland Security Administration and the Social Security Administration. This check is used to confirm whether a candidate is eligible to work in the United States.

Credit Background Checks

Credit background checks review someone's credit report, which contains information like credit card accounts, debts owed, and on-time payment history. Landlords often run credit checks on potential tenants to ensure they're financially responsible, but these checks must comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Social Security Number Trace

A social security trace confirms someone's social security number to ensure they're not using a false or stolen identity. It will also turn up a detailed address history. Employers can use this trace to confirm a candidate's identity or to determine which law enforcement jurisdictions to search during a criminal background check.

Personal Background Checks

A personal background check is when someone runs a search on themselves to determine what kind of public information is available about them. This background check is a good option if you want to determine whether any false information exists about you, so you can dispute and correct it.

Professional Licenses Background Checks

Employers typically use a professional license background check to confirm that a potential job candidate's professional licenses are up to date and that the candidate hasn't misrepresented themselves. For example, an employer hiring an accountant might want to verify the candidate's certification with the relevant state regulatory agency.

International Background Checks

International background checks can uncover the same information included in a regular background check, like criminal history and employment history, but in any foreign country where the subject of the search has lived or worked. The type of information available will vary depending on local in-country regulations.

Social Media Scans

Social media scans search platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, along with numerous lesser-known sites, for evidence of an account associated with a person's name, phone number, or email address. Not all background check services provide social media scans; if they do, the number of platforms scanned may vary.

Sources of Background Check Information

There's no one public information source that powers a background check. Instead, the information in these reports comes from various sources, such as:

  • Federal, state, and local court databases 
  • Professional certification and license databases 
  • Social media sites 
  • Motor vehicle records 
  • Credit reporting agencies
  • Property records
  • Online phone books

Are Free Background Checks Legit?

It's possible to conduct a free background check on your own if there's something specific you're looking for. For example, you could visit the local court website in the jurisdiction where a potential online date lives to search their name in the database for any criminal convictions. 

However, the upside of paying for a background check service is that it will conduct a much more thorough and faster search by combing through a large number of public records in several jurisdictions within a few minutes. 

Most online companies that provide background checks charge money, and though some websites say they offer "free" checks, they'll let you search for free but charge for access to detailed reports. 

Understanding Different Levels of Background Checks

Employers in certain industries conduct different levels of background checks depending on the type of job they're hiring for. 

While most employers will want to confirm a candidate's educational and employment history, some jobs require additional levels of background checks beyond that. 

For instance, someone hiring a moving truck driver would likely want to check a candidate's driving history, and someone hiring for a financial role might review criminal history records for any fraud allegations. Here are the different levels of background checks:

  • Level 1: Identity verification. Most employers typically run a social security trace to confirm a candidate's name and date of birth. A social security trace will also provide a detailed address history.
  • Level 2: Criminal background checks. Many organizations will conduct a criminal history background check by searching federal, state, and local court records for any felony or misdemeanor charges or convictions. But federal and state laws regulate how criminal history can be used in making employment decisions.
  • Level 3: Credit history and score checks. Some employers may conduct a credit history check, which will include credit card accounts, debts owed, and history of on-time payments, especially for roles where financial responsibility is an integral part of job duties. 
  • Level 4: Motor vehicle record. Certain companies will use state motor vehicle records to check a candidate's driving history. If the job duties involve driving, an employer will check specifically for any history of infractions.
  • Level 5: Educational and professional background checks. Educational and professional background checks confirm a candidate's degree with their university or by calling a former employer to verify their position and job duties. 
  • Level 6: Fingerprint checks. Some professions conduct fingerprint background checks for a more thorough criminal background check, such as in government or security sectors. Someone's fingerprint can be checked against the FBI's database to search for criminal records.
  • Level 7: Verify legal work status in the US. There are employers who use the government's online E-Verify system to check a candidate's information against Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records. This check ensures a candidate's eligibility to work in the US.

How Long Do Background Checks Actually Take?

Online background check services typically provide results in less than five minutes, although some take longer. Background screening searches that scan large amounts of information usually take the longest. 

Employment background checks that require contacting former employers, academic institutions, or officials can take days or weeks. International background searches can take much longer, depending on the country's process to access public records.

Factors That May Result in a Failed Background Check

Everyone conducting a background check should determine what findings would constitute failing a background check for the subject of their search. For example, an employer hiring for a driver position may decide that anyone with a major moving violation or drug offenses would fail their pre-employment background check. 

Ultimately, failing a background check will depend on the type of background check (in this example, a pre-employment screening) and why this check is being conducted (e.g., to find a responsible driver). Offering up fake or misleading information to a potential employer that's uncovered by a background check will most likely make you fail it.

Additional Background Check Sites We Reviewed

Beyond the 10 sites, we've included here—all of which, for transparency purposes, are partners of Top10.com—there are a variety of other online services we've reviewed that are also worth checking out. Consider these background check services if you're looking for more options:

  • SearchQuarry - Best for searching license plates or VINs
  • Persopo - Best for learning more about one's family genealogy
  • SentryLink - Best for users looking for an FCRA-compliant service
  • Spokeo - Best for searching social media and dating sites
  • DeepSearchPro - Best for scanning billions of records going back decades

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Final Verdict: Discover the Truth in Minutes

Our picks for the top 10 best background check sites are BeenVerified, Intelius, PeopleFinders, US Search, PeopleWhiz, TruthFinder, PeopleLooker, CheckPeople, InstantCheckmate and IDTrue.

Background checks are a crucial resource for many people—whether you're an online dating app user looking to vet a potential match, an employer trying to confirm a candidate's credentials, or a genealogy enthusiast hoping to connect with distant family members.

Whatever your reason, an online background check service can make the process easier by sifting through a multitude of public records for you, often delivering results quickly—without costing you a fortune.

Still, while most subscriptions are affordable, you need to compare a variety of companies and understand their utility to ensure you're not wasting your time or money. By following the advice we've presented here, you'll be well-equipped to conduct an extensive check on anyone you need.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best background check site?+-

BeenVerified is one of the best sites for comprehensive background checks. The service scours billions of public records for useful information like criminal history, address history, properties, social media accounts, phone numbers, education and employment history, relatives, and associates.

What is the best criminal background check site?+-

CheckPeople, one of the best background check services for uncovering criminal history, taps into deep web information databases like superior courts, district courts, and county sheriff websites, searching for felony or misdemeanor arrests and convictions.

What is the best site for employee background checks?+-

SentryLink is one of the best online services for employment screenings. The service conducts quick background checks, including criminal history searches, and complies with all federal, state, and local regulations.

What is the best site to background check people?+-

With access to 120 billion records from over 6,000 data sources, PeopleFinders is one of the best background check services to locate family or friends you've lost touch with. The company is also one of the oldest providers on the market and has been conducting successful people searches since 1999.

How many years back does a background check go?+-

If you're using background checks for employment purposes, the Fair Credit Reporting Act limits the lookback window for criminal charges to seven years. However, regulations vary by state, and some jurisdictions make exceptions for jobs with higher salaries. Services not limited by FCRA restrictions can search records going back decades, though this can also vary by jurisdiction and depend on how far back digital records are available. For example, PeopleFinders searches records that date back more than 40 years.

What personal details should background checks NOT be used for?+-

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal anti-discrimination statutes bar employers from using race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or genetic information—such as family medical history and age (40 or older)—to make employment decisions. Employers conducting background checks should ensure they comply with all federal, state, and local regulations.

Note: Some or all background search services featured on this site are not subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq., ("FCRA") In order to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance, make sure you choose the appropriate service for you. Be advised that only consumer reporting agencies may provide consumer reports. This is applicable, but not limited to, a background search, credit background check, criminal background check, and/or driving record.

Erin Donaghue - Top10 Writer
Erin Donaghue is a criminal and social justice reporter, with an MA in journalism and over a decade of experience reporting and editing for various news outlets. In addition to Top10.com, Erin's work has been featured in publications such as the Washington Post, USA Today, CBSNews.com, and Huffington Post.