Best Background Check Services of 2018

Eli McCormick ·
Finance Senior Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We spent over 40 hours evaluating background check services. To test them, we searched for three people with names ranging from common to uncommon. After purchasing reports from each company, we checked them for accuracy. Based on our results, Intelius is the best background check company overall. It has some of the lowest prices we saw, and its reports include information about work history, addresses and criminal records. The reports are current and especially useful for finding email addresses, since it pulled results other background searches didn’t find.    

Best Overall
Intelius
Intelius has some of the most comprehensive reports we saw. It includes information about work history and marriages as well as the basics like emails, addresses and phone numbers.
View on Intelius
$49.95@Intelius
Best Overall
Intelius
Best Value
US Search
With its low prices and detailed, up-to-date reports, US Search offers the best value of any background check service we looked at.
View on US Search
Most Comprehensive Reports
Instant Checkmate
Instant Checkmate’s reports are the most up-to-date and thorough. Also, they include information other services missed like marriages, bankruptcies and registered businesses.
View on Instant Checkmate
Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Report Information
Pricing
Searching
Accuracy
Social Media
Work History
Timeline
Background Check
Monthly Subscription
People Search Report
Download Report
Search Effectiveness
Search by Phone Number
Search by Email
$49.95 Intelius
4.5 3.8 4.9
A
$49.95
$29.95
$3.95
N/A
B+
$19.95 Ussearch
3.7 4.5 4.7
B
$39.95
$19.95
$2.45
Free
B
$22.86 Instantcheckmate
5 2 5
A+
N/A
$34.78
N/A
$2.99
A
$22.86 Beenverified
4.2 2.9 5
B
N/A
$26.89
N/A
$2.99
A
$11.95 Peoplefinders
2.7 4.8 4.8
B+
$39.95
$24.95
$1.95
$0.50
B+
$13.95 Spokeo
2.4 4.9 4
D
$49.95
$13.95
N/A
$1.95
A
$27.78 Truthfinder
3.5 2.3 4.8
B
N/A
$27.78
N/A
$2.00
B+
$24.95 Usa-People-Search
1.8 4.7 2.3
C
$39.95
$24.95
$1.95
$0.99
D
$19.95 Verispy
0.2 5 3.3
F
$19.95
$29.95
$19.95
Free
D
$24.95 Veromi
0.8 3 1.5
D
$39.95
$24.95
$9.95
N/A
C
Best Overall
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 judgements, bankruptcies and assets. In addition, Intelius is one of the few background check services that lists educational history in its reports. This gives you another data point to use to get ahold of someone you’ve lost touch with. Intelius’ reports are easy to read and have a unique spider graph that shows how your subject is connected to relatives, jobs and other parts of their life. A background check through Intelius costs $49.95, which is the highest price we saw, though the company shares that distinction with several other services. A monthly subscription costs $29.95 and may be a better option. However, you need to remember to cancel your subscription when you are done using it. You can purchase a people search report, which doesn’t include information about criminal history and other legal matters, for $3.95. One of Intelius’ drawbacks is you can’t download the reports you purchase.
Pros
  • Education and work history included in reports
  • Well-designed reports
  • Subscription and single-report purchase options
Cons
  • Information not arranged chronologically
  • Reports not downloadable
  • Inconsistent information
$49.95Intelius
Read the full review
Best Value
US Search’s affordable prices, accurate 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. A background check through US Search costs $39.95, which is less than many services charge for comparable reports. In fact, many companies require you to sign up for a monthly subscription to view background reports. If you only need basic information, such as addresses and emails, you can purchase a people search report from US Search for $2.45. You can download PDFs of the reports you run without paying an additional fee. 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
Pros
  • Accurate and up-to-date information
  • Affordable reports
  • Multiple search options
Cons
  • Doesn’t find marriages
  • Reports not in chronological order
  • Email addresses not up to date
$19.95US Search
Read the full review
Most Comprehensive Reports
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. 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.
Pros
  • Subscription costs the same as a single report from other services
  • Reports are accurate and current
  • Search tools make it easy to find who you’re looking for
Cons
  • Must pay to download reports
  • Can’t buy single reports
  • Can be inconsistent with phone numbers
$22.86Instant Checkmate
Read the full review
Best For Work History
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, though is some cases you may have to purchase add-ons – for example, if you want information about property or other legal matters. You need to pay for a subscription to get background checks. This costs around $27 a month, and you pay an additional $2.99 to download the report.
Pros
  • Work history is comprehensive and organized chronologically
Cons
  • Need to pay extra for property information
$22.86BeenVerified
Read the full review
Best Subscription Service
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 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.
Pros
  • It’s one of the more accurate services we reviewed
Cons
  • Reports don’t include social media information
$11.95PeopleFinders
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

We’ve been reviewing background check services for over 10 years. For this latest update, we spent 40 hours searching for people and comparing reports. We purchased reports for this update so we could verify the information they contain was accurate and current.

It’s easy to confuse these services with those lenders, employers and potential landlords run before making lending, hiring or renting decisions. However, background checks from the companies we reviewed only contain personal informational, not information about a person’s credit history or other financial matters.

You can find information in these reports about a person’s criminal history, marriages, bankruptcies and any other court judgments. This can be useful if you want to vet potential business partners or dates or want to see what information about yourself is out there. 

How We Tested

Background checks can cost between $40 and $50 each. Before you spend that much money, you’ll want to know if a service provides correct information. To gauge accuracy, we purchased reports for three people. We chose to look at multiple reports because much of the information comes from public records, and it can vary depending on the state your subject lives in.

For each report, we had the subject verify the information about their addresses, phone numbers, emails and relatives was correct. We saw that there was more variation with phone numbers and emails, especially cell numbers. Some of this may be due to how much a person shares on social media, but we noticed some background check companies didn’t include any of this information at all.

We also considered how current the reports were. We saw a wide range in the results. Most had current addresses, though one of our subjects had moved recently, and the most recent address wasn’t in the reports – you can expect a small lag if there have been recent changes. Some of the lower scoring services had addresses our subjects hadn’t lived at for more than a decade.

We also evaluated these services on how easy it is to search for the person you’re looking for. The best services make it easy to find who you’re looking for by giving you the option to include middle names and cities in your search.

How Much Do Background Checks Cost?

Depending on what you need it for, how much information you need and how many reports you need, a background check can cost as little as $19.95 or as much as $49.95. Most services we reviewed let you purchase single reports. However, signing up for a subscription can save you money because you get many reports for one monthly cost. Subscriptions range from $19.95 to around $35 per month, though some services charge additional fees for information like social media and addresses. These additional fees range from $5 to $10. 

What Are the Different Kinds of Background Checks?

When people hear “background check,” they usually think about the kind an employer or landlord runs before making a decision. The background check services we reviewed are different from those used to make rental, lending or hiring decisions. The Fair Credit Reporting Act makes it illegal to use these reports for any decisions related to potential employees, renters or borrowers. In fact, the services we reviewed don’t include information about your financial or medical history in their reports.

What people typically think of as background checks are performed by specialty consumer reporting agencies. Much like your credit report, federal law entitles you to access this information once a year. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends looking at your report before applying for a lease or insurance. Get a report if a job you’ve applied for asks for authorization so you can see if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Looking at the report gives you the chance to spot errors and dispute them.

Unlike credit reports, which only have three major players, there’s a wide variety of consumer reporting agencies. The CFPB has a list of agencies here.

If you can afford it, it’s also a good idea to get a background check from one of the services we reviewed. You can check to ensure the information they report is accurate and may even be able to have your information removed from the service’s listings.