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Whitepages review

Whitepages people search and background check service provides good criminal reports, but isn't worth paying for.

Whitepages review
(Image: © Whitepages)

Our Verdict

Whitepages doesn't offer a great people search experience. While there's no customer funnel, the search experience is poor, there are hidden costs, and the information you get isn't always reliable.

For

  • No customer funnel, direct sign up possible
  • Some free information before the paywall
  • Extensive criminal record information

Against

  • Complex payment options that aren't clear
  • Bad search experience
  • Inaccurate and insufficient information

Whitepages review

Whitepages is a people search site - one of the background check services that allows consumers to search any name and see publicly available information about that person. All the information that can be found in Whitepages reports can be found by ways other than a simple online search. Often, addresses, phone numbers, marriage records, and even criminal and traffic records can be found by search a jurisdiction's website, or can be read in their physical form at a public records institution. Websites like Whitepages simply aggregate the digital versions of that information in one place.  

That also means that not all publicly available information about a person is included in a Whitepages report, or that all the information you find in a report is correct. Due to the nature of the business, and businesses like it, data may be incorrect, missing, old, or simply associated to the wrong individual. You may even find duplicate profiles for one person, or no profile at all. In our review, we considered the expectation to find at least a few mistakes in the reports we ordered. 

Because of the the high likelihood that there will be mistakes in any given report, consumers are not allowed, by law, to use these services in any official capacity. The FCRA law prohibits the use of consumer people search and background checks to determine tenant eligibility, job eligibility, scholarship eligibility, and other reasons as determined by the FCRA. 

So, is Whitepages legit?

Whitepages, despite the possibility of mistakes, is a legitimate service that customers pay for to find more information about individuals, whether those people are potential love interests, old classmates, or online sellers or buyers, as examples of use cases.

Whitepages review: Sign up and cost

Whitepages says it has "simple and transparent pricing," but we've found that it's anything but. There are different plans to choose from; from different types of single reports to different types of plans with a limited amount of lookups - and what information is included in every type of access is unclear. There are even two different "services": Whitepages, and Whitepages Premium, although we suspect that the information in Whitepages Premium should be the same information found in a one-time background check report. And of course, there are nearly as many price points as there are plans. The only good aspect is that you can choose between the pay-per-report model and the subscription model. 

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Whitepages review

(Image credit: Whitepages)
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Whitepages review

(Image credit: Whitepages)

Plans and reports range from $4.99 to $30, with only one plan above $20. This is cheap compared to most other services of the same kind. If figuring out a plan is hard, signing up for your chosen one is easy. Customers can easily access a sign-up page without having to go down the customer funnel. 

For the sake of the review, we opted for the "All-Access Plan" which includes contact information, criminal history, and public records. This is a subscription for around $20 a month, allowing for a maximum of 20 lookups a month. We also chose the one-time background report for $9.99, which includes contact details, criminal reports, traffic records, and more. 

We noticed that, if quick action isn't taken on the sign-up page, Whitepages will offer a 5-day trial membership for just $1. However, it is unclear as to what information is included in this membership. 

Whitepages review: Advantages

Whitepages: Key features

Plans available: Pay-per reports, monthly subscriptions  
Cost: $4.99 to $29.98
Extras: criminal, asset, financial, property reports, and more
Additional services: Address search, reverse phone number search
App: Yes (iOS and Android)

There are very few benefits to using Whitepages, but we found its strengths to be in what it can provide the customer before the paywall. 

Design and usability

There is no customer funnel, meaning that customers don't have to wait for the service to "search" for results and reports to be generated before signing up and paying. Customers set on using Whitepages can directly access the sign up page (even though there are differences between the plan information pages of Whitepages and Whitepages Premium - even after exploring the website thoroughly, we still can't identify differences in information in similar reports with a vast cost difference). 

Pre-paywall information

You may be able to find some free contact information such a current address and a landline phone number before having to pay for the rest. Simply perform a name search and find your target individual - but make sure that the result is not "Sponsored by Whitepages Premium". If it is, you will be prompted to unlock the report and pay. A word of caution: we don't recommend sifting through results by age, which we found was often incorrect. There are known associates and family members and previous addresses that may be better indications of whether or not you are looking at the right report. In fact, if you have a one-time need for someone's basic information and don't want to pay for a people search service, the free version of Whitepages may be a viable service. 

Low cost

Depending on your needs and what you're looking for, you pay only pay as little as $4.99 per month for the information in Whitepages reports. This is a relatively low cost, especially when most people search services cost well above $20 a month. You can also choose not to commit and pay per report, although if you are unsure of the search subject's details, the costs may add up. 

Report contents

While we found that Whitepages report contents are generally inaccurate and outdated, we were pleasantly surprised by how detailed the criminal record information is in a background check report. The information included the crime type, case number, status, and more. 

Additional search functions enabled at no extra cost

We were also pleasantly surprised that additional search functions of reverse phone number and address searches can be used at no extra cost, but accessing the reports counts as a "lookup" if you chose a plan with a maximum of 20 lookups a month. 

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Whitepages

(Image credit: Whitepages)

Whitepages review: Disadvantages

Despite a few advantages, regardless of the plan you choose, we found there are too many disadvantages to allow us to recommend Whitepages as a paying people search or background check service.  

Search experience

Searching a name in Whitepages is, in a word, a terrible experience. We found that ages are very rarely correct, and there are too many report duplicates for the same person. If you choose to pay per report, you may end up paying a large sum just trying to find the right report. We also found that first names and last names are not registered as such in some instances, and that many unrelated names that are displayed as results bear no resemblance to the name searched for. There is also no way to refine results other than city and state. 

Report contents

In all the reports we accessed, most of the information we found was incorrect or outdated in some way. While we accounted for the inevitable mistake here and there due to the nature of people search and background check sites, Whitepages simply had too many for us to seriously recommend paying for it. 

We also found that there was insufficient information in reports in general, which cannot justify paying for Whitepages. 

Plan options and cost

Cost is by far the greatest disadvantage of using Whitepages as a paying customer. Firstly, the complex plan options are unclear and hidden. Many potential customers may not even be aware of plan options beyond what they see on the page they landed on. While the most basic plan is relatively cheap, the shady concealing of other plans may be the company's effort to encourage paying for add-on information. 

Secondly, those add-ons come at a much higher cost, and can quickly add up. From the description, we assumed that an "All-access" subscription provided criminal report information. The truth is that how you pay for that information depends on the report you access. If the person you searched for doesn't have a criminal, financial or legal history, any known licenses and permits, or any property records, "unlocking" a background check report only costs you credits that come with your subscription (a detail again not specified at the time of sign-up). However, if there is any information that falls into those categories, you will have to pay an extra $21 for it, on top of your subscription. To access criminal information for two people on top of a monthly subscription, we paid over $50, plus taxes. In short, background check information is free as long as there's nothing to see. We believe that the lack of clarity is deliberate, and between that, the accumulating cost, and the unreliability of the service, we found no evidence that anyone should pay to use Whitepages. 

Whitepages review: Customer experience and service

In terms of customer experience while using Whitepages, we found that a positive or negative experience is heavily reliant on the use case and purpose of a search. While there's nothing particularly unpleasant in using the website, aside from paying for it, we're sure users will appreciate the lack of customer funnel, which ends up being a major pain point for customers using people search services that have them. 

If you are unsatisfied, Whitepages's customer service representatives are available over the phone and by email, although service hours are unclear.  

Whitepages: User reviews

Whitepages user reviews are overwhelmingly negative. Many users express not just disappointment, but anger that their information appears on the site. Though this isn't uncommon for any and all consumer people search sites, it's important to know that Whitepages and similar services obtain people's information through legal, albeit sneaky means. That being said, many users complain that their requests to opt were not honored. 

There are also many complaints about being charged beyond the first bill. This may simply be a matter of confusion, as, generally speaking, subscription charges are not clearly outlined. Most users have called Whitepages a "scam," and accused the company of "false advertising" because of the scant information or false information. Even taking into account user error, we largely agree that Whitepages is generally not worth paying for, even if it is not a scam. 

Should you choose Whitepages?

Due to the overwhelming amount of negative reviews and our own experience of seeing mostly false information in reports, having difficulty searching, confusing subscription options, and abnormally high cost, we think that Whitepages is best used in its "free" form. There is no cumbersome funnel, so users can look up and name and find some basic information such as a landline phone number and address - but otherwise we recommend other services like Truthfinder or Instant Checkmate if you're looking for more in-depth information. 

Useful information

How to remove your information from Whitepages

We think that Whitepages's opt-out process is a little more complex than it needs to be, and essentially, one must already have an account and be a paying customer in order to request to opt-out. First, find your profile, copy the URL, and submit it through the Opt-Out Site page. There is also a verification process that Whitepages uses to make sure that the profile submitted for opting out was sent by the person themselves. This includes matching phone numbers, but if information in a Whitepages report is incorrect, we are unclear as to what happens to an opt-out request. 

How to cancel a Whitepages subscription

Consumers who opted for one-time reports don't have to worry about getting charged at the beginning of every billing cycle. 

However, if you opted for a subscription, you will need to cancel to stop getting charged. Simply find your profile home page and click on the "Account Settings" tab. You should see a button that says "Cancel Autorenew." You will be prompted to answer questions concerning your decision to cancel your subscription, but as long as you click "cancel" you should receive a confirmation.