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Best Background Check Services of 2022 - Uncover The Past & Present

Background check services can be like having an on-call private detective.
Background check services can be like having an on-call private detective. [ Shutterstock ]
Published Nov. 22

Background check companies are designed to empower you. When you first meet someone, you may be greeted with a smile and a firm handshake, but what’s not made obvious to you is whether they have criminal records, a criminal history, or court records that detail a dark past. If you, like many throughout the world, are using the internet to meet new people, running a background check on them is the least you can do to protect yourself - and your loved ones. A charming smile can easily hide a criminal history riddled with violence. To keep predators at bay, use one of the top background check services.

Top 4 Background Check Services

In this article, we detail background check services that provide you with comprehensive background checks and give you a sneak peek into a person’s past to verify that they are safe to be in your social circle. Aside from supporting you in your quest for knowledge and keeping you safe, background check services are also ideal if you’re searching for someone you lost touch with. It could be a childhood friend or an estranged family member. Sometimes, it’s all about connecting the dots to understand where you come from. No matter what your specific needs are, background check companies are constantly serving thousands of people who need more information than what’s been given. Be warned, however. There are pieces of information you may not be happy to learn; but ultimately, the more you know, the more empowered you are to make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

How Did We Choose These 4 Services?

We put this list of our top 4 recommendations together carefully. There are several pieces of information we looked into to make sure the background check services we chose were really the best.

  • Ease of Use

You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the information you need. The background check services we highlight in this article make it easy for you to run a search with just a single piece of information and a single click.

  • Services and Record Types

Your motivation for a search may differ per person. For example, you may be looking to uncover a person’s criminal history and criminal records. On the other hand, you may be more interested in another person’s employment history or their financial history and status. We chose sites that offer a variety of different records, so you can pick the one that best suits your needs.

  • Customer Feedback

We only recommend background check companies with a long list of satisfied customers. We also dive deep into the vault of testimonials to learn why people sought out the service and what their results were. Rest assured we only recommend the best of the best background check services in this article.

Reviews of the Top 4 Background Check Services

1. Truthfinder - Editor’s Choice

Pros:

  • Protect your family
  • Phone number search
  • Reconnect with estranged family
  • Research online dates

Cons:

  • Service is not intended for employee, tenant, or professional screenings

About Truthfinder

Truthfinder makes it to number one on our list not least because it’s the most popular public record search engine for Americans. They’ve been helping people reconnect with friends and family and learn more about the people they let into their lives for six years since 2015. They offer a very simple way to search online public records.

How It Works

When you use Truthfinder, your search immediately scans hundreds of millions of public records and even social media data to provide you with a thorough and detailed report about the person you’re interested in knowing more about. Depending on the type of membership you choose, you can search using a variety of different pieces of information. For example, you can use the person’s name, their address, their phone number, or their email address.

Details Included in Report

These searches go way deeper than your typical Google search. That’s because Truthfinder dives into the deep web to spotlight information that search engines usually skip over. A background report from Truthfinder includes information like birth and death records, possible relatives, possible associates, location history, contact information, criminal records, education and job history, social media data, dating profiles, and even assets - including vehicles!

What Customers Say

Customers are satisfied, finding just what they need when they search on Truthfinder. One customer comments on how great the customer service is; they answer all questions and concerns diligently to help you get all you need. Customers come from a variety of different backgrounds and use the service for different reasons. One customer was looking to reconnect with her lost daughter while another customer was looking to vet new friends. The service is considered eye-opening, with a wealth of information that answers all questions customers have going in. Learn more at TruthFinder.com

2. Instant Checkmate - Runner Up

Pros:

  • Millions of searches completed
  • Unlimited background checks
  • Instant searches
  • Dedicated to customer privacy

Cons:

  • Membership cancellation must be completed by phone

About Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate has one goal: to provide all their customers with the most detailed and useful background check on nearly anyone. They work cooperatively with their customers, listening to their feedback and implementing new technologies to improve their data and website services. Every day, they help thousands of Americans find exactly what they’re looking for. Their member care representatives operate with enthusiasm, knowing that this service is a game changer for people like you.

How It Works

All you need is a name and location and you’ll be shocked by how much information Instant Checkmate can present you with. To use their public records search engine, simply enter the person’s first and last name and if you know where they’ve lived, enter their last known location as well. With just those two pieces of information, you can go ahead and click on the green search button. When this process is complete, Instant Checkmate does all the searching for you. They immediately scan through a massive network of public search databases to get you a background check with accurate information.

Details Included in Report

Some of the information that you can expect to receive when you request a background check report from Instant Checkmate includes a list of previous states, cities, and zip codes where the person has lived, a list of telephone numbers, links to relatives and their contact information, dates and places of birth, and possible usernames and accounts on social media. You can even access personal information like the person’s ethnicity/race, their religion, their political affiliation, their height and weight, and even their hair and eye color. Additionally, you can expect to learn about possible occupations, previous jobs, employers, and their average net worth.

What Customers Say

Customers comment not just on their satisfaction with their results, but also with the customer service team members they connect with. One customer said that she used this service to help her vet new dating partners while others used the service to reconnect with long lost loved ones. This subscription is noted as worthwhile, particularly during a time of upheaval for one customer. The overall consensus is that this service has continuously improved over the years, demonstrating Instant Checkmate’s dedication to providing a better service each year. Learn more at InstantCheckmate.com

3. PeopleFinders - Honorable Mention

Pros:

  • Search from any device
  • Reverse phone lookup
  • 43 billion records
  • Free mobile app

Cons:

  • International support unavailable

About PeopleFinders

PeopleFinders has been around since 1999. They have become a leading data-as-a-service provider for both consumers and businesses looking to learn more about different people, places, and any other information that’s accessible via public records in the United States. Their decades of experience strengthened them with connections to a variety of different web sources, meaning that each background check report is not only extremely detailed but also completely up to date. They prioritize ease of use and exceptional customer service, so you can easily access billions of records using their website and be satisfied with the final delivery of a comprehensive and accurate report.

How It Works

To use their service, you can start with a name, a phone number, an email, or an address. You can search anywhere and from any device, including your phone. With just a few pieces of information to start, PeopleFinders gets to work diving into both public and private records to provide you with a detailed report that brings you a wealth of information and insight on the person you’re looking for.

Details Included in Report

In your background check report, you can expect to learn current and past addresses, phone numbers, criminal records, bankruptcies, and even property records. Additionally, you can expect to learn more about any known relatives and associates, any professional licenses the person may hold, details about their social media profiles, and any aliases they may have used throughout their lives.

What Customers Say

Customers have used PeopleFinders to reconnect with long lost loved ones. For example, one customer details that he lost contact with one of his Marine buddies. Thanks to PeopleFinders, he was able to locate his friend and reconnect via email. Their friendship has continued to thrive since. There is no shortage of success stories on the PeopleFinders’ website. If you’re looking to reconnect with someone you lost touch with, PeopleFinders can get you the information you need to learn more about where that person is today. Learn more at PeopleFinders.com

4. Spokeo - Growing Reputation

Pros:

  • Industry leading background checks
  • Lifetime updates
  • Enterprise version available
  • Award-winning customer care team

Cons:

  • Single background checks unavailable for purchase; must sign up for a membership plan

About Spokeo

Spokeo is all about making the world transparent. Their aim is to leverage data to make trusting a little bit easier. They operate an intelligent service that allows you to learn more about specific people, connect with them, and understand exactly who they are. The service organizes over 12 billion records from thousands of data sources and neatly compiles all those data pieces into a background check report that is easy to read. Since 2006, they have been innovating their service and evolved into a social search engine since 2008.

How It Works

To start your search, enter a name, phone number, an email, or an address. Whatever piece of information you have available, Spokeo will work with it. As soon as you click the “search now” button, Spokeo gets to work. They immediately search through 12 billion records and deliver a full report within just a few minutes.

Details Included in Report

Some of the information you can expect with a background check report from Spokeo includes contact and location information, including property details as well as public records, including court and criminal records. Additionally, you can learn more about the person’s social media accounts and any of their relatives, associates, and household interests. Finally, you can learn more about their lifestyle interests, their income, and their current and prior jobs.

What Customers Say

One customer is grateful to Spokeo because it gave her an opportunity to be one step ahead of a predator, which protected her family; the background check was able to save her and keep her family safe. Another woman realized that she was dating a married man through the background check details provided by Spokeo. Though it was a heartbreaking truth to uncover, it was exactly what she needed to know to move on with her life. Sometimes the information received can be shocking, but in the end, it can be the catalyst you need to make a choice that saves you. Learn more at spokeo.com

What to Look for When Choosing the Best Background Check Service?

When selecting from the best background check services, there are a couple of items you should consider. Not every service is ideally suited to your specific needs, so we’ve included some pieces of information you should consider before selecting a background check site.

Background Check Services Available

Not every background check site is the same. Some have additional offerings besides the basic information you receive with a background check. For example, one site may be more geared toward providing detailed criminal records, including court records. Another site may be better suited for finding out more about a person’s financial history and property history. And again, another type of service may be best suited for delving into social media profiles and figuring out any possible relationships the person you’re investigating may have. Be sure to read through the available services before you decide on the best background check service for your needs.

Pricing

Pricing is another important consideration, especially if you’re working within a specific budget. Be sure to check the pricing and compare the different options of the best background sites we’ve listed in this article. If you’re just looking for a single background check report, you may find a service that offers an à la carte option more convenient. However, if there is a group of people that you are looking to investigate or you will be running background checks on a regular basis for an extended period of time, a membership is the ideal solution. Also, consider if you get unlimited background checks with a membership or if there is a limit order or minimum. This will help you plan your searches.

Customer Support

Although the best background check services operate smoothly, there’s always the possibility of glitches happening or of questions arising when it comes to pulling the background check data. If this is the case, you want to make sure that you can reach a top notch customer service team that’s available and responsive when you need them. Check if they’re only available by phone, if they’re available by chat, or if you can email them as well. Also make sure to check their operating hours to know when they’ll be available.

Online Access

You’ll likely download your background checks onto your desktop or save them onto an external drive. But if somehow your data were to get corrupted, you should count on your online access to retrieve the background checks you have already pulled. Ease of access is one of the most important aspects of a background check service, so make sure that you’re able to set up a login and can easily retrieve the information you’ve already paid for.

Turnaround Time

Turnaround time is another crucial aspect you should consider. This is especially important if you are working with a specific timeline. Make sure you know what the turnaround time is upfront, this way you can get all the information you need by the time you need it. Keep in mind that there are some pieces of information that may take longer than the usual immediate background checks. Plan ahead to protect yourself.

What Kind of Information Can You Get from a Background Check?

This depends on the type of background check service you use. Typically, background checks cover a wide variety of information that give you a full picture of the person you’re looking into. Anything from their property records to their criminal records and even to their employment details and social media profiles is included in many background checks. Below are some of the pieces of information you can typically find in a background check report:

Address History

Address history includes any previous mailing addresses or places of residence. This information could also detail any properties owned by the person being investigated, and can provide insight on the whereabouts of the person in question.

Financial History

Financial history can include information like bankruptcies and any real estate owned. This information could be helpful if you are vetting a potential business partner, as it provides a look into their past decisions when relating to finances.

Education History

Education history lists all the schools attended by the person you are looking up, including any higher education like colleges and universities. This information can help you understand the credentials of someone that you’ve recently brought into your life or that you’ve decided to possibly begin a working relationship with.

Employment History

Employment details include different employers that the person has had over the years. Although these reports should not be used as real employment background checks, the information can be useful in helping you to understand the expertise of a specific individual and could simply confirm any experience they have shared with you.

Driving Records

Driving records can pull up anything from parking tickets to more serious offenses like misdemeanors and even felonies. If, for example, you are new to a carpool system for your kids, pulling a driving record for the person responsible for the transportation could help you feel more secure about sending your loved one off with them.

Criminal Records

Criminal records are one of the most telling pieces of information and often what is sought out when people search background checks. This could be helpful for any new person that enters your life, whether it be a new friend, a potential romantic partner, or a business associate.

Possible Relationships

You’ll often see a list of potential relatives on background checks, and some background checks take it even further and list any of their possible relationships - including those that aren’t familial relationships.

Social Media Profiles

Many people create social media profiles and then forget about them. Background checks can pull a variety of different information from previous social media profiles, including old photographs. These pieces of information can help to confirm the identity of a person and can give some insight into their past behavior.

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Generally, you can expect your background check results to take a couple of minutes. The best background check services are designed with intelligent algorithms that scour the deepest and darkest corners of the web to spotlight public records from a variety of different places, including court records and arrest records.

You can expect to receive the information you need in the time it takes you to enjoy a cup of your favorite tea or coffee. On rare occasions, some pieces of information may take longer to retrieve. However, the vast majority of information you would want in a background check is delivered almost instantly.

Is It Legal?

The background check sites we’ve recommended in this article are not consumer reporting agencies. This means that the use of these sites is prohibited for any purpose governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Fair Credit Reporting Act makes it so that you are unable to use the results found on these sites for any of the purposes listed below:

Employee Screening

These background check sites are not designed for pre-employment background checks. Similarly, they are not suitable for promoting an employee or terminating an employee. For that, you would require a different type of background check service, one that complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Domestic Worker Screening

There may be occasions when you need to hire somebody to work in your home, including a nanny or a gardener. These background checks are not suitable for hiring decisions when it comes to these types of domestic workers.

Tenant Screening

If you are a landlord, you cannot use these background check services to lease to your tenants or to terminate your tenants for any reason.

Professional Service Screening

Any individuals offering a professional service cannot be hired based on the information you uncover through these background check sites.

Educational Program Screening

You are also not allowed to use the results from these background checks to determine a person’s eligibility for a scholarship, an educational program, financial aid, or grants.

Credit and Insurance Screening

These background checks are not suitable for verifying a person’s credit history or eligibility for issuing a loan, issuing a credit extension, or issuing insurance.

FAQ

Why Use a Background Check Service?

There are many different reasons that make a background check service a necessity in your life. Below we list some of the most common reasons people use these types of services.

Reconnecting with Friends and Family

You could have a long lost uncle or may have found family through a recent DNA test. You could’ve lost touch with your childhood best friend or your favorite college teacher. The fact is, people’s lives change and if you haven’t kept in touch, you may be wondering how that person is doing and whether they’re thinking of you too. These background services are designed to help you reconnect with anyone from your past that you’re longing to know more about.

Online Date Research

Online dating has become the norm. Unfortunately, people misrepresent themselves online, from filtered photographs to blatant lies about who they are, what their names are, and what their relationship status is. Since you’re putting your heart on the line when you’re dating, it’s important to know who the person you’re falling for is, and to make sure they are who they say they are.

Safety from Predators

You can search criminal records and sex offender information to make sure that everybody in your social circle is safe to have in your life. This is especially important if you have a family to protect, including children.

New Neighborhood Research

If you’ve just moved to a new location, getting the lay of the land is important for your overall well-being. You can research your neighborhood and your neighbors to learn more about the area and who the people living around you are.

Online Reputation Management

Just as you can search background checks for a variety of different people from all aspects of your life, you can also use background checks to look into your own online reputation. This helps you see what your details are online, and can even help you correct any mistakes in reporting.

Where Does the Information Retrieved Come From?

The best background check services pull their information from a variety of sources. For example, for social media data, they access social media profiles made over the years. Through their social media profiles, they are also able to find any possible relatives and possible associates as well. Additionally, public records are used to access the information included and background checks. This could be anything from court records to property records. Although the fact that this information is public means you can access it without running background checks, the reason many people turn to services that offer background checks is because of the convenience.

To get the kind of background checks offered by these services, there is an intelligent algorithm that instantly accesses billions of records online, including into the deep web where crucial information is often stored. They do for you in minutes what would otherwise take you hours upon hours of work. And even then, you likely still would miss important details that these services can find in a snap.

Does the Searched Party Know You Have Performed a Search?

No, unlike employment screening, the person that you are looking into does not need to sign any kind of acknowledgment or authorization form for you to perform a search. In fact, they will never know that you are looking into their history. This feature of the best background check services is vital for your safety, particularly if you’re looking into somebody who has a criminal history or criminal records that detail violence. Essentially, you have a private investigator at your fingertips with these background check services, and nobody but you needs to know who you’re looking into.

Conclusion

It is our hope that you know what to look for in the best background check service. Each service has a variety of different features, and it’s likely that one of the services we recommend stood out to you. It’s important you don’t put off background checks - they should not stay on the back burner. A comprehensive background report can save your life, can protect your family, your investments, and everything you’ve worked hard for. Dishonest people are lurking everywhere. Take action today to protect yourself and your family.