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Best background check services 2022

Best background check services
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The best background check services offer a fantastic way to find useful information for people online. This can help you assess a person or find someone more easily.

To be clear, this isn't for use professionally, as is laid out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), so you can't use this for work related searches.

When you do start using one of the best background check systems you'll find you have access to public information for criminal records, previous addresses, employment history and even contact details. It's also worth cross referencing with the best people search sites (opens in new tab)  for optimal accuracy.

Intelius
The best service out there right now, Intelius offers reports that are easy to understand. These pack in the detail with relationships, employment history, addresses, phone numbers, emails and more. With subscription and single report options, this should suit most needs.

Why does the FCRA stop you using this professionally? Simply because there can be inaccuracies. You may not search to a level of certainty that's acceptable. Imagine not hiring someone because you thought they had a criminal record when you'd actually mistaken their identity for someone else. 

All that said, you can still achieve a great level of accuracy, especially when pictures are involved. So read on to find the best background check services to help with your needs.


1. Intelius: Best background check service overall

Best background check services: Intelius

(Image credit: Intelius)
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Best background checking service for in-depth personal history

Reasons to buy

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Reports are easy to read and digest
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Subscription and single-report purchase options
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No customer funnel

Reasons to avoid

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Some inaccuracies
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Confusing pricing options

Intelius’ background check reports are comprehensive and include information about email accounts, phone numbers, marriages, and other legal information. In fact, the service’s reports provide many of the basic pieces of information a background check should, including relatives, addresses, criminal history, court judgments, bankruptcies and assets. Intelius covers all the areas you're likely to need for most searches.

Intelius’ reports are also easy to read and well formatted, although the information is not organized chronologically, so this may be an issue depending on what you are using the report for. While we determined that the information isn't always correct or up-to-date, you can directly access background report information without any other add-ons. In terms of accuracy, Intelius is above average.

When you get a report from Intelius, you're automatically signed up for a subscription service, so just remember to cancel the automatic Intelius Premier sub before the trial period is over, and you are charged. In fact, pricing is an issue with Intelius, as you may end up needing to pay extra for additional information, and you may struggle to understand exactly what reports you need.


2. Instant Checkmate: Best background check service for speed and accuracy

Best background check services: Instant Checkmate

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A fast background checking service that provides instant reports

Reasons to buy

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Subscription costs the same as a single report from other services
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Reports are accurate and current
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Search tools make it easy to find who you’re looking for

Reasons to avoid

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Must pay to download reports
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Can’t buy single reports
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Can be inconsistent with phone numbers

Instant Checkmate had the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date reports we saw. Each one included emails, phone numbers and addresses as well as information about criminal history, assets and marriages.

Most background checks cost between $40 and $50 – Instant Checkmate charges around $35 for a monthly subscription with unlimited reports and searches (3 months of unlimited reports will set you back $28 per month). This is a great value because for the cost of one report elsewhere, you can view as many as you want at Instant Checkmate. However, you have to pay $2.99 for any report you wish to download.

We ran background checks on three people, and Instant Checkmate’s reports were always the most current and had the fewest inaccuracies. It was especially accurate on phone numbers and emails, listing some that other services omitted. One of our subjects had moved recently, and their report didn’t include their new address, so information that’s changed in the past six months may not show up.

It’s easy to search for your target, no matter how common their name is. We had no trouble finding any of our subjects. By including a middle name, you can quickly narrow the results so you don’t have to scroll through pages of names. The more information you add, the easier it is to find who you’re looking for.


3. TruthFinder: Best background check service for detailed criminal history

Best background check services: Truthfinder

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Accurate data in a variety of areas at a monthly fee

Reasons to buy

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Great for criminal records, job history, and social media
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Self-monitoring and dark web search
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Data is accurate

Reasons to avoid

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Not the best user experience
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Extra costs and no pay-per report

TruthFinder offers detailed criminal report information and also offers a good grasp of job history and social media accounts. There's also a self-monitoring option, which allows you to search your details on the dark web and reveals if you have been part of a data breach. As long as you are a paying member, you can hide your data from other TruthFinder users. 

TruthFinder won't let you pay for single reports, and instead offers a subscription option. This means that you won't pay for reports which may not even be on the person you meant to search for. However, we didn't enjoy the user experience. The 'funnel' feature means you need to perform a search before paying, which is a bit of a time waster if you know you want to subscribe. 


4. US Search: Best background check service on a budget 

Best background check services: US Search

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Best background checker for value, due to price plans

Reasons to buy

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Accurate and up-to-date information
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Affordable reports
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Multiple search options

Reasons to avoid

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Doesn’t find marriages
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Reports not in chronological order
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Email addresses not up to date

US Search’s affordable prices, accurate background check reports and useful search tools make it the best value background check service. We purchased reports for three people and looked through them for inaccuracies and omissions. US Search’s reports were highly accurate, especially in the criminal history, addresses and assets sections. It didn’t return many email address results, though that varied from person to person. However, the email addresses it did uncover weren’t found by many of the other services we tested. The information on the reports was largely up to date, though this service didn’t find any of our subjects’ marriages.

Like most background check services, US search has switched to a subscription model for its services. This costs $19.86 per month, but there are usually introductory offers on this pushing prices down to $1.99 for the first 30 days.

It’s relatively easy to find the person you’re looking for, though it’s best to add all the information you have, including middle names, cities and states, to narrow the results. This is especially useful when searching for people with common names.


5. PeopleFinders: Best background check service for those who need frequent reports

Best background check services: PeopleFinders

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Best background checker for small businesses who conduct many searches

Reasons to buy

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It’s one of the more accurate services we reviewed

Reasons to avoid

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Reports don’t include social media information

PeopleFinders is our choice for the best subscription service because it combines accurate background check results with a low monthly price.

There are some advantages to paying for a background check subscription, especially if you plan to run many reports over a long period. However, we must caution that you can’t use this information for rental or employment decisions. For that you need to contact a consumer reporting agency.

PeopleFinders’ reports include information about possible relations, contact information, marriages, divorces, criminal history and bankruptcies. The information is accurate and well organized. A subscription to PeopleFinders costs $24.95 per month.


6. BeenVerified: Best background check service for self-searching

Best background check services: BeenVerified

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Best background check service for independent searching

Reasons to buy

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Work history is comprehensive and organized chronologically
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Great value

Reasons to avoid

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Less good for property values

If you’re looking for information about someone’s work history, BeenVerified is the best option. Work history is another good data point to use to find someone you’ve lost track of. It can also be helpful if you need to reconstruct your own work history as you write your resume. 

BeenVerified reports have accurate information, and there's currently a price-reduction in place on the site. Subscriptions cost $22.86 a month for a 1-month plan and $44.58 for a 3-month plan, which represents good value for money.


7. Whitepages: An alternative service, which provides some free information

Best background check services: Whitepages performed poorly

(Image credit: Whitepages)
You may have heard of Whitepages, and be tempted to use it, but we can't recommend it

Reasons to buy

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Some information is free
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Good criminal record info

Reasons to avoid

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Very confusing payment options
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Poor search options
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Loads of inaccurate information

Whitepages is another background check service available to you. Of all the services we tested, it was the least accomplished, and we actually had a lot of issues with it. We've only really included it in this guide because it's one of the larger services, and it does provide a limited amount of free information before you hit a paywall. You might be able to find an address or phone number, but the accuracy pales next to others like Intelius and Instant Checkmate.

You have to be good at searching and parsing information yourself, as the search function and data you get back from Whitepages is tough to read (and find in the first place). Combine that with a bewildering pricing structure, and we simply wouldn't recommend giving your credit card details to this company. It's not a scam, as some user reviews claim, but you don't get good value for money, based on the reports you receive. 


How much do background checks cost? 

The best background check services range in price from as low as $19.95 right up to the $49.95 price point. This is for single reports but you can also go for subscription services which may be better if you're doing multiple searches. 

These prices run from $19.95 up to $35 per month. But in these cases there can be extra charges for more information like permit data, for example.

How do background checks work?

While all background check information is publicly available, it might not be so easy to get. Manually searching all the database options may save you a few bucks but it could end up costing you a lot of time. Using the best background check services means all that scraping around has already been done for you so you can just pick and choose the data you want. In fact all the data is laid out in a report making it super simple to read.

How long does a background check take?

You can expect the background check to take as little as two days but as long as four days for criminal or employment information. In some cases this may run up to a week but this is more rare.

But by using one of the best background check services you may find that a lot of that information is available instantly.

Can background checks see private social media?

Even background check services can't get you access to someone's private social media. It is private so there is no accessing it without the person's consent. That said, anything posted before the account was made private may still be available online. Old tweets indexed by Google, for example could still be available to you.

Personal background checks 

One great use for background checks is to find out how much of your information is out there for others to access. Carry out a check on yourself and you'll have all revealed to you.

This can be useful to make sure any outdated personal information isn't still floating around out there. Where to start? Google yourself for a free way to see what's available and exactly how difficult it is to find yourself online.

This will vary from person to person depending on their digital footprint online. But here is a list of public information these services mine for:  

Personal Information
- Full name and aliases
- Birthday
- Address history
- Phone numbers

Social Connections
- Marriage and divorce records
- Known and assumed relatives
- Business and social connections
- Neighbors
- Social media profiles
- Blogs
- Photos

Professional & Civil Records
- Education records
- Employment history
- Property records, licenses, deeds, permits
- Criminal record
- Driving record
- Lawsuits and civil judgements

Here’s information you won’t find in background check reports:
- Social Security number
- Consumer information (credit score, consumer habits)
- Financial records (salary, wealth, debt, collections, tax history)
- Medical records (protected by HIPAA)
- Phone records (who they’ve called)
- Behavior (location tracking, context for gaps in work history)
- Test scores

What background checks do employers, landlords and financial institutions use? 

If it's a professional background check service you require then you'll need to use a specialty consumer reporting agency or credit reporting company. There are three major credit reporting agencies in the form of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. 

For consumer reporting the options are broader with a list found here (opens in new tab) on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). You’re legally entitled to access this information once a year.

An SEO specialist and a former Senior Finance writer on Top Ten Reviews, Eli loves giving advice on finance and debt. He holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Chatham University, and currently resides in Utah. You'll see his bylines across a whole host of Top Ten Reviews' money features, especially those concerning loans and debt.