Best People Search Services
We spent 40 hours searching for people and analyzing our findings. This was done with permission of the participants as people search services provide personal details such as work history, previous addresses and criminal records. Our choice for the best overall service is US Search. It has the best combination of price and report quality. We liked the easy-to-read reports that contained accurate information about our subject’s addresses, relatives and criminal history. You can get a single basic report for $2.45 or a monthly subscription of $19.95, both among the lowest costs we saw during our testing.
Best Overall: US Search has low costs for single reports as well as reports that include work history and social media accounts.
Best Value: PeopleFinders has some of the lowest prices, especially if you only need basic reports.
Best Data Visualization: Intelius has the best presentation of data, making it easy to see how the person you’re looking for is linked to addresses, employers and relatives.
Why Trust Us:
We’ve been reviewing people search services for 10 years. We take great care to look at the accuracy of each report, and rather than looking at each service’s sample demos, we actually purchase reports of people we know personally and compare them to our subject’s biographical information to evaluate the accuracy of the information.
We also reviewed people search services keeping in mind that they are designed for personal use only, rather than professional use. Due to FCRA regulations, these reports can’t be used to make lending, renting or employment decisions. Those types of background checks are done by consumer reporting agencies, which are different services.
The services we reviewed all pull records from public databases and other public sources like social media accounts. Some variability is natural, so to account for that we ordered reports for multiple people so that we could assess discrepancies and include them in our ranking.
How We Tested:
To test these services, we purchased, with permission, reports for three different people, including one of our reviewers. Our search targets had names that ranged from very common to fairly uncommon, which let us see how well the search element of these services worked.
For each report we purchased, we had the subjects verify the information to ensure it was as accurate as possible. We looked at email and phone numbers, addresses, assets, marriages, divorces, relatives and criminal history information in each report. We also checked to see how current the information was.
We found that most of these services did a good job with addresses, relatives and criminal history information. There was more variation when it came to finding email addresses and phone numbers, especially cell phone numbers. Some of this came down to how much our subjects shared on their social media profiles, and in some cases the service couldn’t provide any information at all.
Many people search services are adopting a subscription model. These usually provide unlimited searches, though some operate on a credit model. We like services that give you the option to buy individual reports, since you may only be interested in information about a single person.
The pricing we included is the non-promotional price. Many services offer promotional pricing that discounts reports if you sign up for a trial during checkout.
The single reports are usually sparce, containing only address and contact information. If you want an expanded report, those are costlier, but they contain all the information the service can provide.
When looking for our subjects, we found that the more information you can provide, the better. Especially if you’re looking for someone with a common name. Adding middle names, cities, states and ages can greatly reduce searching time. Most services have filters that let you narrow your results.
Because these services aren’t licensed as consumer reporting agencies, the reports can’t be used to make decisions about hiring, lending or renting. That doesn’t mean people search services aren’t useful. We spoke to Shawn Siegal from BeenVerified to learn more about how these services are used.
According to Mr. Siegal, the most common reason people search services are used is to reconnect with a lost friend, family member or professional acquaintance. They can also be useful for checking out blind dates or potential business partners.
Running a search on yourself is another way to use these services. This is a good opportunity to see what information someone else can see about you. Most services also offer a way to flag information as inaccurate, which helps the service tighten its data matching and provide anyone looking for you with the right information.
Of course, you can learn a lot about a person from their social media accounts. We asked Mr. Siegal how people search services differ from social media. He told us a people search report can give you a clearer view of someone, while social media accounts present a filtered version of a person. Additionally, many older people aren’t on social media, so using people search services is a good way to find them.