Searching for a reliable background check site can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what attributes to look for. Whether you need to perform a background check on yourself, a potential date, or a neighbor, excellent services are available to help you. Background checks are also useful to contact a lost friend or relative, locate further information about a business, and even discover who might have called you from an unrecognized number.
For any of the reasons why you may need a background check, you should be able to receive the report promptly. The best background check services have easy-to-obtain reports and can provide you with the information you’re seeking quickly. There’s no public record of who was searched, so there’s no harm in using these background check sites. While researching different background check companies, we compiled a list of the most reliable and straightforward providers. This guide provides you with everything you need to know about personal background checks and three of the best background check services online.
Best Background Check Services
Reviews of Our Selections for Best Background Check Services
1. Truthfinder – Top Choice
- Unlimited background checks
- Self-monitoring tools
- Impressive people finding capabilities
- Accurate and up-to-date information
- No trial period
Truthfinder’s impeccable customer service and impressive searching capabilities earned them our top ranking for best background check service. This company is one of the most popular people search tools that have helped countless individuals with their services since 2015. They received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and have been featured by The Huffington Post and Uproxx. When you need to find an estranged relative or discover if you can trust someone you met online, Truthfinder is ready to provide easy credible background checks.
A membership with Truthfinder will give you access to unlimited background checks. Through Truthfinder, you can scan the dark web to ensure your personal information is protected. They source data from county, state, and federal databases – including criminal history, court records and property records. Their reports are easy-to-read and contain detailed information.
Truthfinder values your privacy; they will never alert the person you search for. While the results vary by person, some reports can go as far back as 15 years. Truthfinder makes it convenient to search for detailed data on people through their highly-rated mobile app. Verified buyers noted helpful and responsive customer support.
2. Instant Checkmate – Runner-up
- Reliable and timely information
- Excellent search tools
- Subscribe and receive unlimited reports
- Easy-to-use website
- No single-report option
Instant Checkmate is an affordable public records search service that provides an extensive range of data from various sources. Their website is well-designed and easy to navigate. You can quickly find the person in question by narrowing down your search results in a few simple steps. This best background check service also received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. With member care representatives who prioritize their customers’ satisfaction, you can trust Instant Checkmate will help make the most out of your membership and search tools.
Instant Checkmate offers a free five-day trial to determine if their services are right for you. With their detailed reports, you can discover the person’s job history, criminal records, court records, social media profiles, employment history, and more. When you sign up with Instant Checkmate, you can expect unlimited searches delivered quickly. All their searches are secure; the person you look for will never be notified. Instant Checkmate allows you to request a search from anywhere through their smartphone app. Customers were surprised by the highly detailed and easy-to-read reports.
3. Spokeo – Third Best
- User-friendly website
- Consistently updated information
- Affordable prices
- Some basic features are free
- No unlimited plans are available
Spokeo extracts data from millions of public records online to provide fast and reliable reports. Several well-respected sources, such as Forbes and The New York Times, have featured Spokeo. Public records used for background checks include property records, criminal records, publicly available employment information, social media data, and more. If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, you can use Spokeo for dark web monitoring. They even offer add-on services, such as court and historical record searches. If you ever run into a problem, their customer service team is available to assist you every day. With frequently updated information, you can trust that Spokeo will give you accurate and timely results.
Spokeo offers monthly plans where you can request up to 100 reports filled with detailed information. If you only need to search for one person, Spokeo gives you the option to purchase a single report. Through customized search, you can find exactly what you need. You’ll find even more than you initially sought with intriguing searches like wealth data and personal interests. As their information is constantly refreshed, you’ll receive updates on the reports you purchase for the lifetime of your account. Customers said the reports are practical, detailed, and professional.
How We Chose Our Best Background Check Sites
We created our list of the best background check sites by analyzing the features and reliability of different services. Our goal is to recommend only trustworthy background check sites that deliver precise results. The best background check will be accurate, detailed, user-friendly, and provide quick reports.
- Accuracy: The most crucial aspect of an efficient background check service is the accuracy of the information provided. The services we chose constantly update their information to deliver the most up-to-date reports possible. We verified the truthfulness of the data given by these services through customer reviews.
- Depth: Reports should include more than just the information you can find with a simple internet search. Through extensive searches of public records databases, these sites provide an abundance of detailed information from criminal records, property records, social media and more. Many of these services also provide impressive add-on features to extract more data, such as dark web monitoring. We ensured these top services delivered in-depth results with all the details you’re looking for.
- User Interface: The best background check services will have a website that is easy to navigate. All different types of people use and benefit from background check services. These sites need to be user-friendly, especially for individuals that may not be computer savvy.
- Waiting Time: No matter what reason you need to search for a person, you should be able to receive the background check report promptly. By quickly searching millions of databases online, these companies can deliver your report within minutes. Verified testimonials revealed that these top three services provided timely results.
How to Choose the Best Background Check Site
Consumer research is essential when choosing the best service, especially when unreliable ones are out there. Wasting your time on an inaccurate background check service can be frustrating. Be sure to conduct sufficient research before committing to a service. Background check services are used by many different people and should be easy to navigate for all users. Paid services provide comprehensive reports and are more reliable than free ones. Look over the features to ensure the results provide the necessary information before paying for the service.
Search customization is a good feature that will allow you to find necessary information, whether for your own personal use you want to focus on employment history, criminal records or financial records. The best background check service will allow you to address inaccuracies if you find any false information in the report. The best background check services will have exceptional customer support that can answer any questions and help you get the best results. Reading customer reviews will also help you determine if the background check company is trustworthy.
Where Does Background Check Data Come From?
Online background check sites search data from government databases as well as other public sources. County, state, and federal agencies collect information on people over time which is mostly available to the public, although it can be complicated to access the data. Public records include anything that is managed by the government and its agencies, such as state or city motor vehicle agencies, county courts, criminal records and city property records. The accessibility of public records may vary by state. Online background check services gather this data and present it in an easy-to-read report. Many background check companies will also collect data from social media platforms to show you any profiles the person might own.
Benefits of a Background Check Service
Individuals use a background check site for various personal reasons. If you lost touch with a friend or relative, a detailed report may help you find their new contact information. Parents who are suspicious of a new friend or partner of their children use background checks to check on potential criminal history as well as verify that what they’ve told you about their past is true. A new neighbor may cause you concern, especially when you have children and pets playing outside. You can use one of our best background check sites to give you peace of mind about new folks in your neighborhood.
When you meet someone online, conducting an online search is an effective way to verify their identity and ensure they are trustworthy. You may be able to view the person’s social media profiles to discover if they have any concerning information. Personal background checks help to prevent online scams and phishing. Buying products from an independent seller online can be tricky, you can quickly search their name to discover if they have criminal records and might scam you. If you are contacted by an unknown number or email, you can use a background search or reverse phone lookup to see who is trying to contact you.
Searching yourself using a background check site is also a smart thing to do periodically. You can discover what people see when they search for your name online. If any inaccuracies may harm your reputation, you have the option to fix them. You can manage your social media profiles to adjust what is visible to the public through these searches. Performing a background check on yourself makes it easier to manage your online presence. You can even use a background check service to search for unclaimed tax refunds or inheritances.
How Long Does a Background Check Take?
The waiting time for a background check depends on the type and depth of the search. Many verification processes take place during a professional background check from a valid Consumer Reporting Agency. (Note that the best background check sites we recommend above are not Consumer Reporting Agencies and information is provided strictly for personal use only – per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.)
Examples of checks done by a more thorough professional background report include an identity check and a global watch list review. Educational or employment verifications typically require contact with various companies and schools which increases the waiting time. The reviews that require international searches will take a significant amount of time to complete. Most professional checks take two to five days to complete, while in-depth reports may take up to a few weeks.
Personal background check sites like the ones we recommend above are more convenient and faster than professional searches. Websites like Spokeo search and cross-reference an extensive amount of licensed public records and sources to evaluate the information they display. They also search dozens of social media networks. These online services provide even faster results for your convenience. They quickly search online databases to deliver your report within seconds or minutes.
What Kind of Information Can a Background Check Include?
- Personal information (Full name, age, date of birth)
- Criminal records
- Employment history
- Past addresses
- Medical records
- Credit history
- Driving record
- Social media profiles
A personal background check will not include text messages, social security numbers or license plate numbers. Marriage or divorce records will not be present, but you still may be able to find out if the person is married through other details, such as social profiles and known relatives.
How Far Back Can a Background Check Go?
In most cases, a background check will go up to 7 years. Bankruptcies are an example of an incident that can appear in your record after ten years. Several states, such as South Carolina, Delaware, Florida, and Utah, don’t have a limit on the number of years a check can go back. Information and incidents as old as 20 years may still appear on your report.
Will Someone Know if You Run a Background Check On Them?
If you use online people search websites to conduct background checks, they will not notify the person. These companies collect information from public records databases which are available for anyone to view. The best background check sites, including the ones featured above, make it their priority to keep their customers’ information safe through 128-bit encryption and secure billing.
If you want to view a person’s credit report or run background checks for tenancy or employment purposes, it’s required by law to use a professional background check service and ask for that person’s consent before running the check. Asking about someone’s credit may leave a trace on their report, which may lead to other consequences for the subject.
What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law enacted to help consumers dispute inaccuracies in consumer reports, including professional background checks. The information in these reports is used to determine an individual’s eligibility for employment, credit, and insurance. FCRA compliance standards apply to employers who use background checks and the Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) that provide them with the reports.
These standards protect job applicants by ensuring they have the right to:
- Be informed of the background check
- Provide consent for an employment background check
- Review personal and financial information
- Dispute and correct any inaccuracies in the report
- Appeal decisions if the individual feels the decision was made unfairly
Ultimately, third-party background check companies that employers utilize must be FCRA compliant. This requirement ensures background checks conducted on the job applicant are accurate and fair. Businesses and companies that do not comply with the FCRA can face financial consequences and lawsuits. A waiver may be necessary for an employer to conduct a background check on an applicant in most states.
Personal background checks, like the ones reviewed above, are not Consumer Reporting Agencies. They do not meet the specific requirements to be considered a CRA. The provided information from these reports can only be used for personal reasons. They cannot be used by employers, lenders or landlords for any hiring, lending or leasing decisions.
Are Free Background Check Services Reliable?
Paid background checks focus on accuracy, verification, and accountability. Comprehensive and reliable searches on vast amounts of public data such as court and criminal records, employment information, property records, etc. require time and effort, which will cost money. In most cases, free services use searches that only locate a limited amount of information from digital records. Consequently, the information may exclude necessary details. The best background check services will require payment. Paid services from a personal background check company access more publicly available data to provide you with comprehensive accurate reports. In terms of accountability, if you find incorrect information on a free check, chances are that you won’t be able to dispute the results. Paid services often allow you to remove your report for free.
How do you search for someone?
When you search for someone on background check websites using their full name, there may be others with the same name. Custom search features will vary between different background check services. Some websites only require a name to start a search, while others need a name and location. You can often include the person’s city or state to narrow your search results. Additional prompts may ask the person’s age or verify their known relatives to ensure you find the right person. Alternatively, other services might ask for a name, phone number, address, or email. If you only know the person’s name, multiple profiles may pop up, and you can select the correct one.
What can I do if I can’t find who I’m looking for?
If you are having trouble finding the person, you can call or email the website’s customer service team with any questions. If you’d like to solve the problem on your own, you have a few options. The issue may be due to a misspelling or lack of alternate name spellings. When a person more frequently goes by a different nickname or alias, a report may not appear if you search for their legal name.
An unsuccessful search will require more or different searches. If you only use a person’s phone number, you may only find ownership information, such as the name and address associated with the number. Finding social media profiles will usually require a search on their name. A lack of information could also mean that there is no information to report, such as no criminal records or social media profiles. Personal background check services update their information periodically, so you can check again in the future to see if a report has been changed.
What is a reverse address search?
The three background check services we reviewed provide a service called reverse address search. With this tool, you can look up a property to find out who lives there. Searching an address will allow you to view current and past residents of the property. If you’re looking to purchase a property, a reverse address search can provide helpful neighborhood information and property details to help you find your ideal new home. When you search for an address, other properties in the area will appear so you can learn more about the residents in that neighborhood. Learn more about a particular owner or neighbor by clicking on their profile. This allows you to discover potential issues with neighbors having criminal records and county safety statistics to help you pick a safe neighborhood for you and your family.
How can I find out who is calling me?
Through these public record search engines, you can use a reverse phone lookup to reveal the identity of the person contacting you. Type in the unknown number to find out if it is a family member, friend, telemarketer or scam caller. If your search reveals that a telemarketer is calling you, you can likely report the number as spam through the background check website. You can also view others’ comments associated with the number.
How much do background checks cost?
The cost of a background check service will depend on the company you choose and the features they offer. You may be able to sign up for a free trial with some of the best background check sites. This feature is a great way to determine if the service is right for you before purchasing. The best background check service will be affordable. Many services, like the ones featured above, offer monthly subscriptions with unlimited reports that range from $13 to $23. Individual reports start from ninety-five cents and can go up to $20. Special add-on features, such as dark web monitoring, will come at an additional cost.
Should I give my Social Security Number for a background check?
An online background check service should not ask for your social security number (SSN). A typical background check service can find the necessary data without this personal information. If a background check site asks for your social security number, they are most likely trying to scam you or steal your identity. Only professional background checks used by employers, credit companies, and landlords can ask for your SSN.
How do you dispute errors on a background check?
You may discover inaccuracies when conducting a background check on yourself. Check for common errors such as mismatching you with someone with a similar name or listing a single criminal charge multiple times. There may be outdated or incorrect information incorporated in reports from services that aggregate public information. Consequently, these services can not guarantee that all of the data they provide is accurate. Public records are constantly being updated but may be incorrect due to human error. Keep in mind that the error may be from your public records rather than the background check service, which can be addressed through the appropriate public agency.
Personal background checks often do not have the option to dispute or edit incorrect information. There may be a feature that can help you to distinguish results based on recent public records from older agencies. You have the option to opt out and remove your report, making it invisible to users who search for you. Removing the report is different from deleting your account. Information is constantly being reviewed, cross-referenced and updated on these sites, so it is possible the report will not stay inaccurate for long. Another option is making a public comment about the inaccuracy on the people search website.
How do I contact the person I’m searching for?
Since personal background checks are confidential and no one is notified of your search, you have the option to contact the person on your own. You can not directly connect with the individual through the people search website, but you will be provided with the contact information to do so yourself. When you search for a person, their email, phone number and address will be present in the report. Keep in mind that you are not able to contact the person for employment, renting or lending purposes since you found their information through a personal background check service.
What can I use personal background checks for?
Some online background check companies are not FCRA compliant or classified as a Consumer Reporting Agency. Consequently, people can only use these sites for certain reasons. Employers cannot use them to conduct pre-employment background checks or decide on reassignment, retention, promotion, demotion, or termination of an employee. Landlords are prohibited from using these types of sites to screen potential or existing tenants. People search websites cannot be used to screen professional service workers or domestic workers. You cannot use these sites to determine qualifications for scholarships or educational programs. Lastly, credit or insurance companies cannot use them to verify eligibility for issuing insurance, loans, or credit extension.
Although personal background checks cannot be used by employers, landlords or lenders, they have many personal uses. These types of background checks can be used to search for estranged family members and unknown phone numbers. You can also trust these services to give you peace of mind about new online dates, acquaintances and neighbors. You can learn about a person’s contact information, relatives, education, employment, criminal history, and social media profiles.
Will misdemeanors appear on a background check?
A criminal background check can include misdemeanor convictions, along with pending cases. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses that may result in a prison sentence of between 15 days and one year or a sentence that includes fines, probation, or community service. Vandalism, shoplifting, trespassing, and public intoxication are all examples of misdemeanors.
Do pending charges show up on a background check?
A pending case is a criminal case where there’s either no disposition of the charges through a determination of guilt or dismissal or the defendant has not been discharged from the imposed sentence. The pending charges are still under review and may be kept the same, increased, reduced, or discarded. Pending charges and cases may show up on a criminal history check. Some states prohibit pending charges from appearing on the report. For example, in Arkansas, pending felonies will show up on a background check, but pending misdemeanors will not.
Can expunged or sealed criminal records appear on a background check?
After a person is convicted of a crime, they may ask for the removal of that conviction from their public record. If the court grants the request, all records of the conviction or arrest are completely erased. These case files become sealed from public access and hidden from most criminal history background checks.
Do restraining orders show up on a background check?
A restraining order, or order protection, is considered a civil matter and generally will not appear in a criminal background check. It may be included as a footnote in the sentencing portion of a criminal record. Violations of restraining orders are criminal matters, and the arrests and court cases for violating them will appear.
Can warrants appear on a background check?
From a legal standpoint, not all warrants are the same. Some of them will likely show up on a criminal background check but most will not. For a report to show a warrant, it must be able to access public court records. Search warrants will not show up on a background check since they’re simply an investigation tool.
Background checks are useful tools for a variety of personal reasons, including locating a lost friend or family member. Avoid scams by searching for unknown numbers and online sellers. Thorough background checks can provide relief about any suspicions or concerns you have about an online date or new neighbor. To view what others see and to locate any errors, you can also perform a search on yourself. Find your new home and learn about the neighborhood through a reverse address search as well.
We reviewed three of the best background check services for personal use online. With affordable options and great customer service, Truthfinder, Instant Checkmate, and Spokeo are the best background check services. They collect data from publicly available databases and social media and present it in a straightforward report. You can find employment history, education, criminal records, addresses, social media, and more through these websites. With Truthfinder being the best background check service, you can trust them to provide you with detailed results promptly. Whether you need a one-time report or unlimited searches, one of these best background check sites can provide you with what you need.