Best Background Check Sites in 2020 — The More You Know

Knowledge is power — and you can’t afford to be powerless in today’s world. Running the best background check can save you a lot of time, money, and nerves.

Not sure about your date tonight? Run a quick check and see if there’s anything you need to be worried about. Your daughter’s new substitute teacher seems suspicious?

With a few clicks, you can see if they have a criminal record or a driving ban. Maybe you want to reconnect with an old friend but have no idea where to find them. The best background check service can easily tell you all you need to know.

The best thing about all this is that you don’t have to be a hacker or pay copious amounts of money for a private investigator. All the info is right there at your fingertips. All you need is the right service.

That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of the most reliable and best background check companies that will do the work for you.

Our Top Three Recommendations

Company
Rating
Features
Pricing

1. Intelius

8.6

Read full review

  • Interactive search tool
  • Single report option
  • Identity Protect feature

Starts at $0.95/search

2. Spokeo

8.4

Read full review

  • Wealth section
  • Report-tracking
  • Enterprise option

Starts at $0.95/search

3. Instant Checkmate

7.9

Read full review

  • Extensive reports
  • Criminal records by state
  • Map of registered sex offenders

Starts at $27.82/month for unlimited searches

Full Reviews

Intelius Background Check Review

Pros:
  • Interactive search tool
  • Single report option
  • Identity Protect feature

Cons:
  • Slightly confusing price plans

Intelius is an established background check company that has been around since 2003. With a near-perfect score from the Better Business Bureau and affordable subscription plans, it is an excellent choice for your everyday research needs. How does it work?

You can access the Intelius people search engine using the website. If you’re on mobile, you can use the company’s Android or iOS app to conduct a basic background check.

The main menu lets you search for people by name, phone number, or address. All the searches are private and anonymous, so you don’t have to worry about someone keeping track of your inquiries or getting notified.

In addition to the basic people search, you can also perform a criminal record check, reverse phone lookup, reverse address lookup, or an extensive background check.

Intelius’s background check report includes the person’s full name, known aliases, date of birth, relatives, addresses, employment, phone number, email address, and social media profiles. If you perform a thorough background check, you can find marital status, criminal records, and lawsuits.

The service is based on the company’s interactive tool — the Intelius Connections Engine. As you search for individual people, the engine creates a network of connections so you can easily find the answers to related queries.

As is often the case with the best background check sites, Intelius presents a prominent notice, a sort of disclaimer, saying that it’s not a consumer reporting agency. This is in accordance with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act that has been protecting consumers since 1970.

Intelius offers three types of subscription plans.

The simplest “People Search” option gives you all the essential personal details — employer, educational background, and social media profiles.

Right now, with an online discount, you can get this service for less than a dollar — $0.95. Many users consider this the best background check for dating due to the low additional price of $1.95 if you want to add information about the person’s marriages and divorces. You can easily find out if your potential love is already married or keeping any other secrets from you.

With the third plan — the full Intelius background check — you get everything from the other plans, along with criminal and judicial records. This plan will cost you $39.95.

Spokeo Review

Pros:
  • Wealth section
  • Report-tracking
  • Enterprise option

Cons:
  • Outdated contact details

Originally based on compiling search results from social media, Spokeo is one of the biggest background check websites today. It combines the online information it gathers using deep web crawlers with offline data from various sources. Here is what you can expect from this service.

As expected, Spokeo allows for people’s searches based on name, email, phone number, or address. Once you type the data you know, you’ll get an extensive report. The company gives you all the essential details, and some surprising info you didn’t even know you needed.

For example, you can find out about a person’s hobbies and interests based on what information has been shared on the web.

One interesting feature of Spokeo’s background checks online report is the Wealth section. It lets you find out about an individual’s property and investments — plus an estimated salary based on several different factors.

As for social media, you can find a person’s username and profile on various dating, music, and gaming websites.

Although people who use Spokeo’s services generally look for their friends or relatives, the website also lets you dive into criminal records. DUIs and sex offenses will come up in the search if there are any.

One great feature that will save you a lot of time is report-tracking. When you perform Spokeo’s personal background check, your query stays in the system. That way, if there’s an update to the report, you will immediately get notified, free of charge. All you need to do is search for someone one time, and the website will do the rest.

If you own a business and you want to give your whole company the ability to perform the best background checks, you’ll need the special Enterprise package. It lets your team members search for free, and you pay only for the results.

Since this plan is built for an entire company, if various people search for the same person, you only get charged once. This fact can save you a ton of money in the long run.

With Spokeo’s best online background check, one person gets administrator rights to oversee all the searches. You can see exactly who performed the search, when, and what type of query it was.

Prices differ depending on the type of search you need. The lowest discounted price of a single Spokeo people search is $0.95. However, with this purchase, you get a seven-day free trial option to give you a taste of the subscription plan.

When the free background check trial period ends, you’ll be charged with $24.95 a month. For the Enterprise plans, you’ll need to contact their account specialists to get a quote.

Instant Checkmate Review

Pros:
  • Extensive reports
  • Criminal records by state
  • Map of registered sex offenders

Cons:
  • Slow loading time
  • No option to purchase single reports

Instant Checkmate is among the best background check websites on our list, thanks to the site’s attractive design, simple interface, and interesting features.

A well-deserved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau shows this is a trustworthy site you can safely use anytime.

Good navigation is absolutely crucial for a well-functioning website. This is the part that Instant Checkmate does just right. The elegant design has an intuitive interface that will never lead you astray or waste your time. You can find the search bar with four cells as soon as you reach the homepage.

That way, you can immediately start the best background search by typing in the first and last name of your target, plus the city and the state they live in if you know them.

The search button will lead you to a page with vivid visuals. During the search process, you can see various databases being explored so that you know something is really happening.

You can narrow down the search by answering a couple of questions about the person you’re looking up. We are still unsure whether this background check software feature really helps you narrow the results or is merely a gimmick to help pass the time.

Many people are interested in reverse address and phone searches so they can find out who lives at a specific address or who’s been calling them. Instant Checkmate offers these options as well.

In addition to the regular people search, you also have the option to check out the criminal database, find arrest records, and search through lists of inmates.

The criminal record database goes through both national and state records, which is far superior to any free criminal record check.

One interesting and handy feature that can help you protect your loved ones concerns the map of sex offenders in the vicinity of your chosen location. You just need to enter the street name and the search radius. The map will give you their locations, details, and even mugshots where available.

The three-month subscription plan will give you unlimited background checks for $27.82 a month. The plan they deem most popular costs $34.78 a month and also comes with an unlimited number of public background checks. You can make the payment via PayPal or with a credit/debit card.

US Search Review

Pros:
  • Long tradition
  • Clean interface
  • Single report option

Cons:
  • Somewhat old-fashioned
  • People search directory not working

US Search is one of the most recognizable brands in the field of online background searches. The website began its work in 1994 and has, in a way, been a pioneer in the field.

On the one hand, this is a good thing because you have a company with a long-lasting tradition and proof of its reliability. On the other hand, the site design and the whole approach seem a bit outdated. Is US Search still among the best background check companies today? Let’s find out.

The first thing you’ll notice about this website is the lack of color employed in its overly simple design. In most cases, simplicity is a desirable trait — but here, everything just seems a bit outdated. To be fair, the interface is pretty straightforward.

As with similar services, you can search by name, phone number, or address. If you add your search target’s middle name or state of residency, you’ll improve your chances. The search results page automatically ushers you to US Search’s three available payment plans.

The simplest one-time background check from US Search gets you a people search report that costs $2.45. You get the person’s name, age, address, phone number, and potential relatives and associates.

If you also need to know about your target’s criminal background, you can opt for the one-state criminal check report. It costs $14.95 and includes the target’s criminal charge history and criminal court records.

Finally, if you need a full legit background check, including a criminal check and details about property ownership, civil judgments, bankruptcies, and marital status, you’ll need the most expensive option that costs $39.95. Interestingly, with the last package, you also get your target’s neighbors’ names and addresses.

When you look at US Search reviews, you’re sure to see people complaining about payment problems. One misplaced click, and you could end up with OmniSearch — the company’s name for a subscription plan that gives you unlimited online background check searches and a monthly bill you never intended to ask for.

That being said, as long as you’re vigilant enough while using the site, you will find all the info you need via helpful popup windows. You can find samples of each type of report, so you know what to expect and all the explanations you might need in the website’s help center.

BeenVerified Review

Pros:
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Vehicle identification
  • Apps for all devices

Cons:
  • Some outdated information
  • Non-transparent trial offer

BeenVerified is widely considered the best background check company for beginners because of its simple UI and an abundance of explanations for every element.

Founded in 2007, the company has prospered, attracting more than 100,000 subscribers. It has become one of the flagships in the industry. Here is how it works.

The signup process takes only a couple of minutes. You will be prompted to choose one of the company’s two subscription plans. Both let you perform all the best searches, including reverse phone, address, and email lookups.

The results are clearly defined, straightforward, and can easily be downloaded to a PDF file for your convenience.

One of the special features that set BeenVerified apart from other top background check sites is the VIN lookup option. If you have a vehicle’s identification number, you can find out more than 150 different details about the car.

This includes estimates of the current market value, the cost of maintenance, and possible warranty issues. This feature can benefit both people looking to buy a car and those who decided to sell it. In general, even if you’re not buying or selling, it’s never a bad idea to keep track of your vehicle’s value.

BeenVerified offers the best background check app that works on pretty much all devices — iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Android devices.

The apps are a great way to perform searches on the go, as they offer the same level of functionality you get from the website. With more than 7 million app downloads, you can be sure it’s a quality product.

We’ve already mentioned that there are two subscription plans. The only difference is how you make the payment. A one-month membership costs $26.89, while the three-month plan costs $17.48 per month.

It may not be the cheapest background check service on the market, but both options give you unlimited searches on pretty much everything, and you can even get notifications whenever reports are updated.

The site offers many payment methods, including debit/credit cards, PayPal, ApplePay, GooglePay, AmazonPay, and Venmo.

BeenVerified offers a seven-day trial period that costs just $1, but it comes up only the first time you decide to leave the pricing page. It’s a sneaky technique that gets people straight into a full-price membership plan if they miss the offer. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

PeopleFinders Review

Pros:
  • Powerful free app
  • Exhaustive reports
  • Numerous online and offline sources

Cons:
  • No social media accounts

PeopleFinders is another veteran in the world of online background checks. The company launched the website in 1999, and it has managed to stay on top for more than two decades.

If you’re looking for a criminal background check site with one of the largest collections of public records on the internet, this provider is the perfect choice for you. Here is what you can expect.

At first glance, the website looks really good. It’s elegant, compact, and user-friendly, and it doesn’t overwhelm you with unnecessary clutter. The top of the page lets you switch among three types of quick background check searches — name, address, and phone number.

You can slightly improve your chances of finding the right person by providing some additional information like the middle name or age group.

PeopleFinders also gives you comprehensive reports that include contact details and other publicly available data. How much information you get depends largely upon your subscription of choice.

The basic membership plan costs $24.95 per month, though special deals cost only $9.95 for the first month. This plan essentially gives you many different contact options and some other basic info.

If you want to do a full background check, you’ll benefit from a slightly more expensive premium plan that costs $29.95 per month. It gives you insight into the target’s property, criminal records, financial situation, and other public information.

You can also activate the PeopleFinders Rewards program to get $1 background check discounts. In addition, you can also do a free background check on yourself every month to keep a close eye on your public data.

Undoubtedly, one of the company’s strongest points is the free PeopleFinders app that goes by the name of IdentityWatch. It is not merely a mobile version of the site — it’s a complete security gadget combined with background check options.

The app can automatically block phone calls from known spammers and scammers. You will get alerts about hacked accounts and stolen photos to make sure you’re always completely safe.

The app’s background check scanner comes to life as soon as someone calls you. You immediately know who is calling, why, and from where.

Best Background Check Providers

  • Intelius

  • Spokeo

  • Instant Checkmate

  • US Search

  • BeenVerified

  • PeopleFinders

Are Background Checks Legal?

This is a tricky question because it depends on who is doing the check and for what reason. Generally speaking, if you are using the online service to find publicly available information on someone for your personal use, it’s perfectly legal.

However, the situation gets a bit more complicated when it comes to an employer or landlord scrutiny. This is where the Fair Credit Reporting Act comes in.

Passed by Congress in 1970, the FCRA regulates how companies and institutions use your personal information for various purposes. Background check services for employers need to be labeled as consumer reporting agencies and regulated by law.

You have the right to see your credit history reports and know when they’re being used. This is true for any type of professional relationship — like the one you have with your bank or landlord.

Of course, it’s not always easy to determine what type of relationship is at play. For example, if you want to find out more about a person you’re dating, you can easily use the best background check for boyfriend services to get publicly available information.

You’ll want to know if your date is a wanted criminal or someone who is already married.

However, the problem comes when you decide to use a nanny background check service. Nannies are usually hired according to an informal agreement between two people, but it can also be considered a business arrangement.

When you find yourself in this gray area, it’s always better to be on the safe side and make everything transparent.

Can You Find the Best Free Background Check Site?

Why pay for something when you can get it for free, right? Well, if we’re talking about background check services, it’s not that simple.

When you use a background check company’s free services, you don’t actually pay a private detective to snoop around and find previously unknown information. What you are really getting is free public records search that theoretically anyone could perform.

Just sit at your computer, type the right words into a search engine, and that’s it. In that sense, the service is free.

However, the best way to do a background check is to turn to professionals who take advantage of deep web crawlers and other powerful tools to compile data that your simple and free online background check wouldn’t give.

Most can offer a lot more than your everyday search. They can make connections, generate estimates, and highlight relevant data visually.

Even though these services are not free, there is almost always a trial period that is perfect for thorough testing of the product to see if it fulfills your professional or personal needs.

Consumer Reporting Agencies

While there are numerous types of consumer reporting agencies operating in the United States, it is important to understand the main differences that separate them from the background check companies you stumble upon on the internet.

Even the best site for background checks needs to have a disclaimer stating that it’s not a consumer reporting agency. This means that it doesn’t have to obey the strict rules enforced by FCRA.

However, it also cannot provide official credit statements to employers, landlords, banks, and other authorities.

There are about 400 consumer reporting agencies operating in the US right now. Out of that number, three big nationwide providers cover most of the market — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

These companies provide the best background check for employers that corporate HR directors and hiring managers rely on.

Of course, their service is not limited only to the employment sector. Landlords, banks, insurance companies, and even gaming casinos are their regular customers.

  • What do you get in a report?

Unlike online background check companies that rely mainly on publicly available data, these reporting agencies can offer insider info directly from creditors.

The report includes the target’s payment history, credit balance, and various information about debts.

What’s really interesting is that all three companies are legally obliged to give you a free background report once every 12 months. This means that you get a professional, extensive, and accurate report of your finances completely free of charge.

It is a great way to gain insight into what your future employer is seeing and whether you should do something about it. Sometimes reports can have errors, so an annual checkup should be a part of your financial hygiene.

  • Best background check agencies in various fields

Accurate Background — With more than 13,000 clients who perform over 24 million searches per year, this company is among the most popular employment reporting agencies.

Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC) — Since 1986, CIC earned its reputation as the provider of the best background check for landlords, where the emphasis is always on the client’s satisfaction.

MIB — MIB specializes in providing accurate and comprehensive medical reports to insurance companies upon receiving specific authorization.

Driving History — These are reports from public records and government agencies regarding driving violations. Besides self-check, this is mainly used by employers when they require a specific work profile.

Our Methodology — Finding the Best Background Check Site

There are dozens of background check companies on the web that let you look up people, so how do you determine which one is worth your time?

We’ve devised a system consisting of important elements we feel every reliable company should have. Here is a short breakdown of the key criteria we have identified.

  • Search options

First of all, we look at basic functionality. Normally, these companies let you search by the target’s name, address, or phone. You can also run a separate crime check or scan the company’s people directory.

The best background check website will give you multiple methods to find a person based on the information you’ve got. Since it can be difficult to pinpoint the individual you’re looking for, search results must be presented in a clear, easy-to-browse way.

  • Visuals

We evaluate the presentation of the received data and the general feel of the website. If you can’t find your way through the heap of data or the site keeps crashing, that site can’t be considered reliable.

The best website for background checks should offer an interface that you can easily navigate and use, even if this is your first time conducting a search. We appreciate it when the search results are presented in a meaningful way, so it’s easy to discover similar searches, close connections, and other relevant data.

  • Additional information

You can and should always expect a reputable background check company to go the distance and give you the info you didn’t know you needed.

For example, crime reports in each state or a map with locations of registered sex offenders near your area earn a plus in our review.

In addition, you’ll sometimes find extra features like identity protection or enterprise payment plans. We note anything important and report it to you to factor into your choice when you select a paid or free personal background check service.

  • Responsibility

Although it may seem like a minor element, we need to ensure that the companies we recommend follow FCRA guidelines. At the most basic level, this means showing a disclaimer differentiating the company from an official consumer credit reporting agency.

However, we need to see it in practice as well. Responsible tenant or employment background check companies won’t offer you background check services without warning you of any potential legal troubles or suspending your account if they suspect foul play.

  • Price

We always include the price after we’ve shown you everything the website has to offer. That way, you can get a good idea of what you’re getting for your money.

We also mention free trial background check modes that give you a chance to acquaint yourself with the services for about a week or so without making a monthly commitment.

When it comes to monthly obligations, the industry standard for this type of service is about $30 per month, but there are always special deals with promotional offers that can go for under a dollar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What background check do most employers use?

As long as they go through the right channels and notify you about it, potential employers can run a host of different background checks on you. The essential search concerns your possible criminal records on all levels — county, state, and national.

After they verify your identity, they will most likely check your education and previous employment.

There are numerous services for employers that can provide information. They must follow FCRA guidelines and declare themselves consumer reporting agencies.

What can disqualify you on a background check?

Employment background check agencies can find out many things about you, so you must be honest with your future boss. The first point employers take into consideration is your criminal background.

While minor misdemeanors won’t automatically disqualify you, violent crimes, sex offenses, or similar major crimes certainly will.

If potential employers find out that you’ve lied in your resume, you won’t get past the interview. Another element that might mark you with a red flag is a bad review from a previous employer, so keep an eye on that as well.

Can you do a background check on yourself?

Yes, you can. In fact, many people do that regularly to make sure everything is in order or to discover online privacy issues. Experts agree that you should perform this check at least once a year to see if anything has changed.

If an employer does an official background check on you, you are generally legally entitled to see the results.

Are online background checks accurate?

Most of the websites that offer free background checks are not worth your time. In most cases, they would give you the same results you’d get if you googled the person yourself.

That being said, top research companies that provide more accurate results will often offer trial versions of their services to give you an idea of what they do. That way, you can get background checks for a limited period — possibly for free.

How do I get a legitimate background check?

The internet is crawling with fake background check websites, so you should always keep an eye out for the telltale signs.

Legitimate employer background check websites will rarely ask for payment from applicants since it’s the employers who pay for background checks.

Something that fake websites are also notorious for is having poor spelling, so if you see a page that is full of odd syntax and wrong grammar, avoid it at all cost or perhaps give them a call to confirm that their website is legit.

To ensure that every background check you conduct is legitimate, choose only the best background check options, such as those provided on this review page.

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