Best Background Check Services of 2018

Eli McCormick ·
Finance Senior Writer
Updated
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We spent 40 hours purchasing background checks and comparing them to each other for accuracy. We also considered the included information and the cost of each report. A single report can run $20 to $50, while a subscription can cost $20 to $34. The most accurate reports are generally $30 and up. Based on our testing, our choice for best background check service is Intelius because it provided the most accurate report with the most comprehensive information. It’s worth noting that background check can’t legally be used for employment or renting purposes, only for informal checks such as finding someone from your past or researching a potential business partner. 

Best Overall
Intelius
Intelius has highly accurate and comprehensive background checks, among the best we tested. It’s easy to search and find the person you’re looking for.
View on Intelius
@Intelius
Best Overall
Intelius
Best Value
BeenVerified
If cost is your main concern, BeenVerified is the most affordable option for useful reports. A single background report costs $29.95 and a monthly subscription is $26.89.
View on BeenVerified
Most Comprehensive Reports
US Search
For a thorough background check, we recommend US Search because it includes information about your target’s relatives, property and social media profiles, in addition to the standard background information.
View on US Search

Product
Price
$49.95ImpactRadius
$19.95ImpactRadius
$22.86BeenVerified
$11.95CJ
$29.95PeopleSearch
$22.86Instant Checkmate
$19.95Viglink
$19.95RevenueWire
$19.95RevenueWire
Overall Rating
9.3
9.2
9
8.6
8.6
7.7
7.6
7.4
6.8
Pricing
8.5
9
7.5
9
9.3
7
10
7.5
7
Report Information
10
9.8
9.5
8.5
8.5
8
6.8
8
6.3
Search Customization
8.3
6.8
10
6.8
8.3
6.8
5
5
8.3
Ease of Use
10
10
10
10
7.5
8.8
6.3
6.3
6.3
Help & Support
8.5
8.5
10
8.5
8.5
8.5
8.5
8.5
8.5
Single Background Check Report
$49.95
$39.95
$29.95
-
$39.99
*
$19.95
$19.95
$19.95
Single Statewide Criminal Check
$19.95
$39.95
$29.95
-
$19.95
*
$19.95
-
-
Single Nationwide Criminal Check
$39.95
$39.95
$29.95
-
$19.95
*
$19.95
-
-
Monthly Subscription
$19.95
$19.95
$26.89
$24.95
$19.99
$34.78
$19.95
$29.95
-
No Subscriptions Required
-
-
-
Accuracy
90%
85%
80%
60%
60%
60%
25%
55%
25%
Criminal Records
Sex Offender Check
Bankruptcies
$
$
Court Judgments
$
$
Tax Liens
$
$
Property Information
$
Marriage & Divorce Records
Relatives or Associates
-
Social Media Profiles
-
-
-
Address
-
-
-
-
Location
Phone Number
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Age or Date of Birth
-
-
-
-
Dashboard
Report Definitions
-
-
-
-
Single-Search Option
-
-
-
-
Phone
-
-
Email
FAQs
Live Chat
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Best Overall
Our pick for the best background check service is Intelius. Intelius’s report contained the fewest inaccuracies of any we tested. The report was accurate about our subject’s personal information and their criminal history.
The only aspect it fell short on was in the marriage and divorce records. Of course, inaccuracies aren’t strictly the fault of the background service because these reports come from a variety of public sources, and records may not have been entered or digitized at the source. Intelius’s background checks are comprehensive, containing the basic information about criminal records, previous addresses, court judgements and bankruptcies. They also give information about a target’s social media profiles, tax liens, and marriages and divorces, items that weren’t standard across these services. Intelius makes it easy to search for your subject. You can search by address, location, age or date of birth. Finding the right person, especially if they have a common name, can be difficult, so having multiple ways to search can make it much easier. Intelius also allows you to search by a single item, so if you only know one piece of information, you can start searching.
Pros
  • Most accurate results
  • No subscription required
  • You can search by age, phone number and address
Cons
  • Reports are expensive
  • Can’t search by phone number
  • Our report had issues with marriage and divorce records
Intelius
Read the full review
Best Value
BeenVerified has one of the best combinations of accuracy and pricing, making it a good value for a background check service. A monthly subscription for basic personal information costs close to $27, which is roughly average for the services that offer monthly subscriptions.
For $2 more a month you’d get access to information about criminal records, bankruptcies and other legal issues. There is no option for a one-time background check. You can get a cheaper report sure, but a background check is only as good as the information is contains, and BeenVerified is one of the most accurate services we looked at. We looked at reports for three different people and got current results for each of them. Other (cheaper) services had out-of-date addresses or listed incorrect email addresses, but BeenVerified was accurate on all these areas. The report is thorough and includes information about marriages, divorces, court judgements, bankruptcies, criminal records and social media profiles. All this information is shown in an appealing layout, with the information listed chronologically. BeenVerified has multiple search options, so you can easily find the person you’re looking for. You can filter by middle name, city or age, which is helpful when the person you’re looking for has a common name. You can also search for someone by the address or phone number.
Pros
  • Accurate reports
  • Thorough background checks cost less than with competitors
  • Reports include bankruptcies and criminal records
Cons
  • No single-report options
  • Has trouble finding marriage information
Visit SiteBeenVerified
Read the full review
Most Comprehensive Reports
One of the most complete reports we found came from US Search. This report includes all the basic information about your target’s criminal history, bankruptcies, court judgements, tax liens and property information.
You can also access less common types of information, including your subject’s social media profiles and marriage and divorce records, and you can run a sex offender check. The US Search reports we obtained placed second in our accuracy tests. In particular, the criminal history sections had the most current information (though recent information was not present, which was something we encountered across the board because it can take time for the databases these services draw from to get updated). You can search for your subject by location, age and date of birth. If you only know one piece of information, you can start searching there and begin whittling down until you find your subject. Once you’ve purchased your report you’ll have access to it for up to a year through the US Search dashboard. You can also download the report as a PDF. One drawback of US Search is the high price for single reports. All report types cost $39.95, one of the highest costs on our review. However, a monthly subscription to US Search is only $19.95, among the lowest subscription fees we came across.
Pros
  • You aren’t required to sign up for a subscription
  • Comprehensive reports
  • Accurate background checks
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Can’t search by address or phone number
  • Reports are inconsistent with information about relatives
Visit SiteUS Search
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

For this recent update we spent 40 hours searching for our targets and purchasing reports. We’ve been reviewing background check services for 10 years. In that time we’ve come to know that an accurate report is the most important part of these services. We know 100-percent accuracy isn’t possible, in part because these services draw from a wide range of databases, some of which may not be updated quickly. Also, some states and counties don’t make their databases available online. People can also opt out and have their information removed from online databases.

Finding the right person is also key. You’d be surprised at how many people share even uncommon names. To increase our difficulty, our test subjects had relatively common names. It’s important for a  background check service to have a quality search function, one that allows you to input more than a name. The more information you know, the better. Some services let you start with a last name, but the best let you add in address, age, date of birth and even phone numbers to narrow down your results.

How We Tested

To test background checks we got permission from some of our coworkers’ acquaintances and ran background checks on them. We checked each report against what we already knew about our subjects – their criminal history, marriages, property, etc. Services that scored well gave us reports that were accurate and had the most up-to-date information on our subjects. We also looked at the types of information included in each report. This went beyond the usual suspects of criminal records and court judgments. We also looked to see if we could get marriage and divorce records, find a social media profile or run a sex offender check. The more complete a report, the better it rated.

What Can I Use a Background Check For?

For most of us, a background check it brings to mind applying for a job or an apartment. True, those are the most common scenarios were a background check might be run on you, but the services we reviewed are regulated by the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act, which restricts what they can be used for. With these services you can’t get information about your subject’s credit, medical or insurance history. And you can’t use the information to influence a decision about employment or renting. For those kind of background checks, you need to use a registered consumer reporting agency. This is very important, if you use any of the services we reviewed here to make a decision on employment or renting, you could face legal repercussions.

Still, there are many practical uses for the information you get through these services. Information about someone’s previous bankruptcies, criminal records, court judgments or tax liens can help you decide about a potential business partner, roommate or date. You can also use these services to find someone you’ve lost contact with. You can even run these reports on yourself to see what might show up if someone runs one on you.

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