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Instant Checkmate review

Instant Checkmate is a near perfect copy of its sister company, Truthfinder - just at a much higher price point.

Instant Checkmate review
(Image: © Instant Checkmate)

Our Verdict

Because Instant Checkmate reports are nearly exactly the same as its sister company, TruthFinder's, it has many of the same advantages and disadvantages in terms of use. However, its much higher price point takes away from its otherwise good service.

For

  • Clean design
  • Detailed criminal records
  • Accurate basic data

Against

  • High cost and long funnel
  • Inflammatory language
  • Too many extra costs

Instant Checkmate review

Instant Checkmate is a public records search, and background check service. Instant Checkmate and companies like it it are essentially public records repositories: with the help of other data brokers and technology, they are able to scrape personally identifying information on individuals living in the United States. All information contained within reports is already publicly available data: this means that all criminal record information, basic information, asset details, and all other data can be found by anyone by ways other than using a people search site. Services like Instant Checkmate merely make this information more easily accessible by putting it all in one place and online. It's important to note that not all publicly available information may not appear in online reports by Instant Checkmate and others when public records have not been digitized (this process depends on the state or jurisdiction). Similarly, the information in reports may not be correct: any data point may be inaccurate, missing, outdated, or associated to the wrong individual. The latter occurs most often when there is more than on person with the same name residing within the same jurisdiction. 

Therefore, laws have been implemented around the use of people search and background check services like Instant Checkmate. The FCRA law determines that these services may not be used in an official capacity to conclude on a person's job candidacy, tenant application, scholarship application, and other situations as outlines by the FCRA. 

Is Instant Checkmate legit?

Yes, Instant Checkmate is a legitimate service that many use to uncover information about any individual. This can be for the purposed of checking out a potential partner, knowing more about a seller's background, or even finding old classmates and friends, among other use cases. 

In our research, we've determined that the people search and background check providers TruthFinder and Instant Checkmate are sister companies, meaning that they are owned and operated by the same organization. Their services are nearly identical, as is the information you can find within reports. To determine which one is best for you, check out our review of Truthfinder

Instant Checkmate review: Sign up and cost

As it is for TruthFinder, signing up for Instant Checkmate is one of the disadvantages of opting for this service. There is no direct way to sign up and pay for a subscription - potential customers must first search for an individual before reaching the pay wall. This is known as the "funnel," a way for the company to give the illusion that records are being searched in real time. This is not the case, and many potential customers have expressed dismay that the information was not free after having waited for about ten minutes expecting to see an open report. 

Does Instant Checkmate cost money?

Yes. There is a monthly fee to use Instant Checkmate, and a relatively steep one at that. It costs $34.78 plus sales tax for one month, which totalled $37.87. Instant Checkmate also has a a 3-month subscription option for a total of $83.47 ($27.82 per month). Unless you cancel your subscription, you will be automatically billed at the beginning of every billing cycle according to your subscription of choice. 

Instant Checkmate review: Advantages

Key features

Plans available: 1 month subscription (renewed every month), 3 month subscription
Cost: $34.78 for 1 month, $83.47 for 3 months (plus taxes)
Extras: PDF download
Additional services: address search, sex offender watch, self-monitoring tools, report claiming
App: Yes (iOS and Android)

Report design

Instant Checkmate's report design is largely well-organized, allowing user to easily find information relevant to their search and needs. The extent of the information that can be found in a report is relatively clearly outlined. While the report design is not without its flaws, we found that it's easier to navigate than the reports compiled by most other people search and background check services. We also enjoyed the addition of a time view of a person's profile, which arranges the main information in chronological order. 

Searching

Searching is also quite simple and straightforward: we recommend knowing a full first and last name, as well as their correct spellings and a state of residency before performing a search. Nicknames, even a shortened version of a name, may not be recognized by Instant Checkmate's system. We also found few duplicates of reports for the individuals we searched. 

Reports and information

Because Instant Checkmate and TruthFinder are run by the same entity, the information across reports generated by each service is the same. For the individuals we searched, we were impressed by the general accuracy of the basic data, which includes address history, phone numbers, email addresses, and people related to the person searched for. Of course, there were some inaccuracies, but largely less than in other reports by other consumer background check services (reminder that some inaccuracies are normal and expected due to the nature of the service and its business practices). 

Additionally, we were impressed by the great detail that other services may be reluctant to provide, such as specific birthdays or the location and year a person's Social Security Number was issued. Although most services have legitimate reasons for holding back such information, such as combating fraud and stalking, subscribers are generally looking for as much information as possible - that makes Instant Checkmate a better service than others. Interesting, though less serious tidbits have also been included, such as a person's astrological sign. 

In terms of criminal records, job history, and social media profiles, Instant Checkmate (like TruthFinder) is one of your best options to find this information. Criminal records (ranked by likelihood) are more detailed than the ones of other people search services. We also found a person's job history laid out in resume form that's well organized and clear. Finally, Instant Checkmate generally finds more social profiles that other people search services, including Amazon wish lists. Some of these profiles may not have been correctly attributed to the people you've searched for, so users are obligated to use their good judgement to determine how true thee information really is. 

Subscription model

In our research, we found that a subscription model was much more beneficial than a pay-per-report model. Because of the expected inaccuracies and report duplicates, it is in a user's best interest to opt for a service with a subscription model. 

Instant Checkmate review

(Image credit: Instant Checkmate)

Instant Checkmate review: Disadvantages

Because Instant Checkmate and TruthFinder are nearly identical in their services, they have the same disadvantages associated to using their services. 

User experience

The user funnel prior to signing up is one the most tedious parts of using instant Checkmate, and luckily users only have to endure this process once. The funnel is used to fool customers into thinking that records searches are happening in real time, when this is highly unlikely to be true. We've determined that sitting through the funnel is a waste of time unless you choose to sign up for Instant Checkmate. And the fact that all customers must go down the funnel in order to sign up takes away from the user experience. 

On a similar note, we found that we were generally against the use of excessively inflammatory language in the funnel. Words such as "shocking" and "graphic" are only warranted in certain cases. And while it's true that, while using Instant Checkmate, you may find information that you weren't expecting to find (such as the existence of a criminal record), we believe that in the vast majority of cases, "shocking" content isn't included in a report. 

Extra features

Instant Checkmate charges extra for services that other people search and consumer background check sites offer for free. Phone number lookup, email address lookup, PDF reports, and even the dark web scan all come at an extra $2 to $5 per month (each) on top of the normal price. Theses search functions are useful when cross referencing information found in a people search report. 

Cost

This leads us to say that one of the main drawbacks of using Instant Checkmate is its cost. While the information is detailed and more or less accurate, depending on the individual, the nearly $40 cost per month is too extraordinary for the type of service. There are less costly options we recommend, like BeenVerified.  

Instant Checkmate review: Customer experience and service

Many potential customers who went down the funnel before signing up may feel that they were tricked into thinking that the information was free, which ultimately makes for relatively poor customer experience prior to sign up. However, when they become subscribers, the experience improves dramatically. 

There are a few flaws to note: it may still be hard to find what the site's full functionality is, and what you will need to pay for - sometimes, extra costs are not fully advertised and the fine print is easy to miss. Even in reports, section headers are a little on the smaller side, making it somewhat difficult to determine what section you're in. 

Instant Checkmate's customer care section is relatively easy to find on its website, and there is an FAQ section that may address your questions. Instant Checkmate customer service can be reached by phone, email, social media, and snail mail. Although customer service hours are not specified, the number of ways Instant Checkmate can be reached outweighs that oversight. 

Instant Checkmate: User reviews

Most folks are happy with their investment in Instant Checkmate, and found that the information provided in the reports are generally accurate and helped them find someone they were looking for, or to know more about a stranger. User reviews are mostly positive, and most customers report good service. Most of the negative reviews call the service a "scam" - but we acknowledge that these data brokers are inherently packaging publicly available information and data. Their services are legitimate, but as a customer, we recommend that you read the fine print very well before committing at the risk of considering Instant Checkmate and similar services as "scams."

Should you choose Instant Checkmate?

While Instant Checkmate offers quality reports with relatively accurate information and extensive criminal records information, we believe that the high cost is too big a factor to ignore. While we don't think that Instant Checkmate is a bad service, we advise that potential people search users opt for Instant Checkmate's sister company, TruthFinder, or a better quality service at a lower price point. 

Useful information

How to remove your information from Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate is very informative when it comes down to providing information on how to remove your information from its database or opt out of its service. You can request that your information be removed from Instant Checkmate's database by searching for your own record and submitting a request. You can also request to opt out by email. Go to the Instant Checkmate opt-out page and search for your own report to submit your request. 

How to cancel an Instant Checkmate subscription

It's somewhat difficult to find Instant Checkmate's subscription cancellation page. To cancel your subscription, go to "Member Settings" and scroll to the bottom where you can find the "cancel account" button.  You will be led through a series of questions, each posed to persuade you to continue paying for the service. Before the final prompt, you will be offered a special price for a subscription package that includes search functions not included in a basic subscription, like reverse phone searches and email reports. As long as you press "Cancel My Account," you should not be billed in the next cycle and will receive an email confirmation of your account cancellation.