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Intelius review

Intelius is a good site for people searching and background checking, with no customer funnel. While it lacks some features, Intelius's data organization makes the service stand out.

Intelius Background Check review
(Image: © Intelius)

Our Verdict

Intelius' reports contain important, useful information and are well designed. As such, it is a good site to use for background checks, and other people finding needs.

For

  • No customer funnel
  • Reverse phone search included in subscription
  • Helpful data visualization options

Against

  • Confusing plan options
  • Reports have some inaccuracies, duplicates, and omissions

Intelius is one of many background check services that enable you to search public records from your home. This information is normally publicly available, but Intelius (and the best people search services like it, such as BeenVerified and TruthFinder) aggregate those records that have been digitized. As a reminder, not every public record has been digitized by the jurisdiction that manages it and, in that case, it will not appear in a people search or background check report. The information that may appear in reports generally are basic contact information such as addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, social media profiles, lien and asset information, and criminal and traffic history, among other publicly available information. 

However, due to the nature of these search and background check services (and their business practices), information in reports may be missing, incorrect, outdated, or attributed to the the wrong individual. This is very common, and something we allowed for and considered in our Intelius review. 

For this reason, the FCRA law prohibits the use of Intelius and other consumer people search and background check services to determine tenant, job, scholarship, credit, and other eligibility. However, these services are most often used to lookup individuals in the following cases: to check out an online buyer or seller, a potential date, search for the contact information of an old classmate, and similar use cases. 

So, is Intelius legit?
Yes. Despite the strict unofficial capacity in which Intelius can be used, Intelius is a legitimate service. Many people may be worried by how much of their personal information is available online, in one place, so we take this opportunity to remind consumers that all the information that can be found on Intelius and services like it is all publicly available and can be found via means other than repositories like Intelius. 

Intelius: Sign up and cost

Most common plans

The people search report includes:
- A person’s full name, known aliases, age, and date of birth. - Known address and phone history
- Any known relatives.

The background check report is the most comprehensive, and includes:

- A person’s full name, known aliases, age, and date of birth. - Known address and phone history.
- Any known relatives.
- Known social channels and accounts. 
- Known email addresses. 
- Known employment and education history. 
- Criminal records. 
- Marriage and divorce records. 
- Judgments, lawsuits, bankruptcies, and liens.  

Throughout our Intelius review sessions, we found the sign-up plans quite confusing to parse, as not all variations are available in one place. Customers who know exactly what they need it for are the ones who will most easily navigate the Intelius sign-up plans. They have the option between: Intelius People Search Report, Intelius Public Records Report, Intelius Background Check Report, Intelius Premier (subscription), Nationwide Criminal Check, and a Statewide Criminal Check. 

If you know roughly what kind of report you need, there is still likely to be some confusion as to what's included in each type of report, and what information overlaps between them. Even after spending an hour examining each and every option, we still weren't sure which one to pick to make the most effective use. 

The most effective way to generate a single report is to take out a Premier subscription trial, which comes with a voucher for "one background check a month". You can then redeem the voucher right away for your report. If you find it useful, keep your subscription, and it not then you know to cancel and you've saved a bit of time and money.

Once you make the decision on which report to opt for, customers may still feel bamboozled by the sign up page, and there are a couple of hidden quirks to be aware of, so we recommend that potential Intelius customers read the fine print carefully. Many customer-reviewers lament the fact that monthly charges for a subscription appear on their bank statements despite their claim that they never signed up for a subscription. For all plans we saw, the Intelius Premier (unlimited monthly services) is automatically added as a trial offer, after which customers are billed, so be aware that if you buy any report, you will need to cancel your free trial if you don't want to continue to subscribe. 

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For the purpose of this review, we opted for Intelius Premier (Unlimited searches with one Background check voucher per month), which was offered for 50% off our first month (for a total of $14.95, plus tax, for the first month, a subscription that's automatically renewed every month for $29.95). Other plan costs range from $1 to $40 per month, but the Premier appears to be the best value right now for general use.

Intelius: Advantages

Key features

Plans available: Pay-per reports with a monthly subscription, or just a monthly subscription
Cost: $0.95 - $39.95
Extras: Background check information, Criminal record search
Additional services: Address search, reverse phone number search
App: Yes (iOS and Android)

Pre-paywall
Before customers are prompted to pay for the information they seek, they don't have to go down a customer "funnel" that many other services have. This "funnel" tends to be a major pain point for customers who end up unhappy that they had to wait nearly ten minutes for information they believed was free simply because they thought that the service was searching for public record information in real time. Intelius doesn't have a funnel with that false claim, and customers who sign up can get to their results faster. 

Subscription model
Although it's buried in the fine print, Intelius has a subscription model after the initial report purchase (Intelius Premier). It's unclear why this is, but we generally prefer subscription models for these kinds of services due to the uncertain nature of the reports. Because there can be report duplicates, false profiles, and too many profiles for a common name, it makes more sense for regular users to have a plan with a high limit or unlimited amount of report views than a pay-per-report plan. 

Extra features
While Intelius reports are pretty bare-bones, we were pleasantly surprised that the reverse phone number search is a complimentary feature of an Intelius Premier subscription. 

Data visualization
One of the best features Intelius offers is the many ways it can display the information, so you can better visualize connections. For example, you don't just see the known addresses of a person, but you can see where they are in relation to one another on a map of the United States. If you're someone who can better integrate information as visual, Intelius can help you. 

Intelius: Disadvantages

Plans and payment
In a nutshell, Intelius's array of plans is very, very confusing, and is reliant on customers knowing exactly what they're looking for. Intelius would benefit from a master plan comparison page with more detailed information on what data users can find in them. Additionally, while we strongly recommend that customers should read the fine print very closely to know that they will automatically be charged for Intelius Premier, we also think that the majority of Intelius's negative customer-reviews would be improved upon by making that caveat clearer. Although this is a slight annoyance, Intelius is, by no means, the only service employing such tactics.

Also, when accessing reports, it isn't clear as to what is supposed to be included in the report and what would be considered an add-on after purchase. As it turns out, only criminal records of the state of current residence are are searched with the voucher, for example. To expand the search nationwide, an additional $19.95 will be charged to your card. And, as it so happens, the current state of residence is not always correct, and these add-ons can accumulate very quickly and cost you a pretty penny if you want to be thorough.

Additionally, a lot of information that can be found for the cost of basic subscription to other services, such as asset information, can only be viewed for a fee on top of the cost of Intelius Premier. 

Reports
In the same vein, there were a number of report inaccuracies and omissions in every report we accessed. There were also report duplicates, and reports for some people didn't even appear after a simple search (name, last name, state of residence). We found the best results when we combined information from different reports for the same person (one tended to be more bare, yet more current, while the second was more informative with more outdated information). 

Intelius is also one of the more bare-bones services we've reviewed. There wasn't much else to do on Intelius other than searching. There are no Dark Web search features, monitoring tools, or even a sex offender watch. But for those who want a service focused on people searching and background checks, this will be considered a plus.

Extra search functions and features
The reverse address search function is not included in a basic subscription, which we found odd, especially because the reverse phone number search is. 

Intelius: Customer experience and service

While our experience using Intelius wasn't the worst, the service has generated a number of negative comments from previous users. Many people who have used Intelius don't speak favorably of the service, but this is very typical of all people search services and background check sites.

Intelius user reviews are overwhelmingly negative, with many subscribers calling the service a "scam". We found that many of these reviewers missed the fine print and were understandably surprised and dismayed by Intelius charges on their debit or credit cards. Again, this isn't uncommon in the people search market, and we recommend that users stay vigilant. 

We also noted that some users looked themselves up and found some inaccurate information - this is true for most people search services, so we think that most people were able to find what they needed despite our experience. 

Customer service can be contacted by phone over a limited amount of hours a week: Monday through Friday, from 7am to 4pm Pacific time. 

Should you choose Intelius?

While Intelius certainly isn't without problems, it is still one of the top sites in the US for background checks and getting information on people. The range of reports and checks available can be confusing, but what you get back in terms of data is well laid out, and contains an above average amount of accurate and reliable information. The subscription model here is good value for money, but we don't like the way you're signed up for it if you run a single report - a little more clarity would be appreciated, especially by average customers. 

Once you get to grips with what you need from an Intelius report, it's tough to find anywhere else that offers more clarity and focus on finding people and checking out their background. Yes, there will always be inaccuracies with any report of this kind, but we found Intelius to hit far more often than it misses.

How to cancel an Intelius subscription

Cancelling your Intelius membership is easy - and as a reminder, you probably have a subscription if you've paid for a report, so remember to check your account before the next billing date.

Under 'My Account,' find the the "Memberships" tab. Then, click on the 'Cancel membership'. The status of your account will change, and you will no longer be billed for the service. 

How to remove your information from Intelius

You can request that your information be removed from Intelius's database through its opt-out page. Visit the FAQ section and find the appropriate query, where you'll find a link to the Opt-Out page. Then follow the steps, which include finding your profile and submitting it for removal. Intelius says that it takes care of all requests within 72 hours, but it also specifies that your information may resurface at anytime. This is true for any data broker, people search provider, or background check company.