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Everything You Need to Know About Free Background Checks

Top10.com Staff
Free Background Checks
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Almost anything you post online can and may be used against you. These days virtually all our lives are heavily exposed to the wider public through the internet, particularly our social media activity. The good news about this is that it’s easier than ever to do a little due diligence and find out information about pretty much anybody you like.

Ways to search people for free:

  • Google searches (with full name, residence, place of work)
  • Social media accounts
  • Blogs and online forums
  • Google News - they may have made the news at some point
  • Sex offender database
  • Reach out to all known acquaintances and relatives

Though the market is full of paid background check services, with some persistence and just a few details you should be able to find what you’re looking for on your own, without ever having to open your wallet.

  • Google: But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Start with a simple Google search using the person’s full name in quotation marks. If you know their middle name or if they remarried use that as well. If you come up empty, try an advanced search where you incorporate any places you know of where they lived, worked, or studied.
  • A Google search should be able to bring up any current or past social media accounts the person uses. If the profiles are public, take some time and go searching. People share a remarkable amount of personal information and photos on social media these days, and – ironic as it may seem – often feel more comfortable sharing embarrassing details on a public social media account than they would say, at their office.

    Google should also bring up any news articles that mention the person, so if they were involved in an embarrassing story that made the news, you should be able to find out. In addition, it should turn up any blog posts or online comments that could potentially shed some light on who they are.

    You can cast a wider net by searching any known relatives or close associates of the person you’re looking for. If you know their siblings’ names, search them, and if you get a link to a social media account, comb through it as much as possible to find who you’re looking for. You can search their friends list once you’re in the profile. It’s possible that you may be able to find incriminating information about the person you’re looking for on the page of an acquaintance or loved one.

  • Reverse photo search: Do you have a photo of the person you’re investigating? If so, plug it into Google images search to perform a reverse photo search. Here you should get results on any other postings where that picture appears, or where similar images can be found. This could possibly lead you to a mugshot registry or some other official state posting online.
  • Sex offender databases: These days most states operate free online databases where you can search for sex offenders by name, address, and zip code. You can search directly for the person you’re looking for, and if they come up you’ll get a read out of the exact crime they were convicted of. Hopefully the person you’re looking for doesn’t show up here, but if you’re worried about someone who has access to your children, using this free service is a good way to at least get some answers to every parent’s worst fear.
  • It’s not always entirely free, but you can also look up court documents in every county in America. Criminal and civil court databases can be searched by name so if the person in question was ever the plaintiff or defendant in a court case in the States, there should be something that you can find if you look in the right court database. Usually if you do find documents you have to pay a small fee to access them, but it’s typically a rather negligible fee.

Paid Services

If you’ve exhausted all of your free options, you may want to consider a paid service. These companies compile all-in-one reports on whoever you’re checking, putting court records, arrest records, financial records, and other information all in one place. They can usually be accessed from a mobile app as well.

Here’s a look at what using some of the leading paid background services will set you back:

Company Name
1-month deal
3-month deal
12-month deal
Less than $30
Less than $26/mo.

The Bottom Line

Never has it been easier to find information about people. If you’re looking to calm your fears about the new babysitter or the neighbor who just moved in up the street, take some time to really go deep on your own and see what you can find. If you keep coming up empty, try one of these leading paid services, who should be able to fill in the blanks.

Top10.com Staff
Top10.com's editorial staff is a professional team of editors and writers with dozens of years of experience covering consumer, financial and business products and services.

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.