Best Background Check Services 2019
An online background check is a way of checking through millions of public data records to find out more information just about anyone. Using advanced technology, the best companies can find personal information on any US citizen quickly and easily. As a result, many customers now find that background checks are perfect for tracking down long-lost friends or family members, or learning more about someone you have reason to suspect.
How We Determine the Best Background Check Companies
However, while many background check companies claim that they can perform any of the above checks, not all are as efficient or effective at doing so or providing results in a comprehensive way. In fact many background check review companies out there simply do not conduct in-depth checks making their services useful. So how does a potential customer determine the best background check companies out there? The following features are essential to have to make it on to any of our recommended for use list.
- A full range of background checks
- Whether they do real legwork or just rely on shallow internet searches
- Plenty of search options by name, email address, or reverse phone lookup
- Good customer support
- Accurate and easy to read written reports
- Mobile apps for a variety of devices and operating systems
It’s worth pointing out that even the best background check companies can miss something, so perfection isn’t guaranteed. That said, these are our recommendations for the best background check services.
The Best Services
BeenVerified uses a person’s name, email address, or phone number to comb through dozens of records. The basic search includes standard contact information, property reports, social media photographs, criminal records and convictions, address history, and the names of known relatives. Premium services include sending a court runner to check non-digitized court records and a more extensive report. There’s a mobile app for Android and iOS and customer support via email and phone during extended working hours.
TruthFinder lets you search millions of public records by name, reverse phone lookup, email address, or street address, delivering information about their contact details, current and past addresses, criminal and court records, traffic records, personal information, and known relatives. The deep web reports dive deeper into online records including social media profiles. TruthFinder offers the option to purchase a premium report covering education history, current and former roommates, neighbors, voter registration details, weapons permits, professional licenses, and more. TruthFinder is available online and through a mobile app for Android only. TruthFinder’s customer support is open 24/7 via email or toll-free phone number and there are an extensive FAQ and troubleshooting section.
People Looker can be used for background checks on your neighbors or even co-workers. Founded in New York it boasts running as many as 1 million reports to date and when compared to other services it is pretty fast. Coming up with results in just minutes, People Looker uses various sources including bankruptcies, social media accounts as well as court and arrest records to come up with the information you might be looking for. You can choose between the one month or three-month membership, the latter of which will save you 30%.
Intelius offers an extensive criminal-records check, reverse phone number lookup, and a public records people search. Their services include sending an in-person scout to criminal or civil courthouses to look up non-digitized records. Through Intelius, you can discover if an individual has any criminal records, lawsuits or liens, and bankruptcies and check their phone numbers, past addresses, relatives and neighbors, and look up their property records.
Intelius reviews are very accurate and easy to read via an online dashboard. Intelius offers a mobile app for Android and iOS and customer support through phone, email, or their online troubleshooting center.
Instant Checkmate lets you search by full or partial name and last known location. Instant Checkmate’s standard search only checks for sex offender status and criminal records, marriage and divorce records, relatives, and social media profiles along with basic contact, personal information, and address history. For more information such as bankruptcies and court judgments, professional licenses, and weapons permits, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium plan. Instant Checkmate’s reports are easy to read, there’s a mobile app for Android only and customer support 24/7 through phone and email.
What do Background Checks Reveal?
It’s amazing how much information is publicly available through a background check. For example, a background check company can perform the following:
- A driving records check involves looking at someone’s driving records to see if they have a history of traffic accidents, points on their license, DUI incidents, or traffic violations.
- A criminal background check means checking databases for any federal, county, or state offenses.
- Education checks involve looking up someone’s education history to see where and what they studied.
- Litigation records check look up court judgments to see if someone was sued – or sued someone else – at any point and for what reason. They also show the existence of a lien on someone’s property.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Background Checks
In an ever more technological world where we can seemingly find out so much information about a person without them knowing, it’s good to know what action you can legally take once you have a background check report in your hands. There are many dos and don’ts when using an online background check to be aware of.
For instance, it’s perfectly legal to use background check websites for:
- Checking up on new neighbors
- Investigating a new date
- Searching for old friends and long-lost relatives
- Discovering who is calling your phone number
- Searching for sex offenders in your neighborhood
- Looking up your own online history
However, even the best background check services cannot be used for:
- Screening future employees without their permission; This is a serious offense according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)*
- Investigating domestic help before hiring them is also illegal under the FCRA
- Verifying if someone is eligible for credit or insurance or for scholarships and grants
- Choosing tenants
*The FCRA “promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies…including credit bureaus and specialty agencies.” The FCRA regulates the credit reporting agencies and the people who use and provide consumer reports. If the FCRA is violated, a person can seek statutory or actual damages. For a background check for employees, domestic help, or tenants to be legal, under the FCRA, those individuals need to give permission to have a background check done on them (via documented permission).
Where do Background Check Services Get Their Information?
Background service companies get their information from public records that are entirely open to anyone. The best background check companies don’t just use the internet but also consult archives, courtroom records, and call up references in person. The reasons men and women tend to use online background check services is simple – the sites have access to all the public records and can do it in one go. If you were to do a background check on your own, you would have to contact all the public record files yourself, and getting the information could take days.
What’s the Difference Between a Free and Paid Background Check Report?
Although everyone wants something for free, sometimes you get what you pay for. Only local state and county sites allow you to access records for free; nationwide ones charge a fee, so a free background check is likely to miss a lot of information. Using a human to supplement automated background check tools also costs money and brings a more reliable report. Free background checks tend to have more inaccuracies and miss out on more information than a paid report.
How To Choose What Background Check To Use
With so many options available for performing a background check on someone, it can be difficult to decide which service will best meet your needs. This can not only lead to hours of tedious searching, but also has the potential to cause serious harm if you make the wrong choice.
Fortunately, knowing what questions to ask can go a long way towards making the right decision for yourself. Below, we look at some of the essential factors you should look at to ensure whatever service you choose is comprehensive – and doesn’t result in unexpected problems down the road.
1. How The Company Checks That Its Information Is Accurate
There is almost no limit to the amount of information available online if you know where to look for it. The best background check services know exactly where to find that information and draw on a comprehensive list of data sources to leave no stone unturned when performing a check.
However, this is not always the case. Therefore, before signing up to a subscription plan with a background check company, verify where your potential background check company gathers its information. Are they checking federal records? Local courthouses? Sex offender lists? Weapons permits? The dark web? If a service claims to be an expert background check service but only collects data from a small number of sources, it’s a red flag that indicates you should be going elsewhere.
2. Understand the Types of Background Checks Available
The term “background check” is actually a bit of a misnomer. In fact, this is a catch-all phrase used to describe a wide variety of different information searches that can be done on an individual. Some of the information that can be generated by running a background check on someone include:
- Contact information
- Current and past addresses
- Criminal records
- Social media profiles
- Traffic accidents
- Current and former roommates
- Possible neighbors
- Businesses and business associates
- Weapons permits
- Professional licenses
However, not every service offers every kind of search. Always be sure to check what you need versus what is being offered before making a decision.
3. Ensure Compliance with Legal Regulations
This can be so easy to forget, but it is imperative that the operating procedures and internal policies used by a background check company are strictly regulated by law. If your circumstances fits the below categories, you must seek out a background check service that is compliant with the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA):
- An employer screening a potential employee
- A landlord screening a potential tenant
- Screening nannies, domestic workers, and other household employees
However, if you are running a background check for another purpose, the service you use needn’t be FCRA compliant.
4. Compare Pricing
It sounds obvious, but subscribing to a background check company needs to be affordable to you. So, once you’ve determined that a service can generate the data that you need, it’s time to start looking at its price tag.
Background check companies often offer a variety of price/service combinations. Start by evaluating how many searches you need, and how long you plan to continue using the service.
If it’s just a matter of a few searches in the immediate term, you can find companies offering competitive pricing on a single month. If you’re looking to do more voluminous searching over a longer period of time, there are several companies offering discounts when you sign up for a membership over a period of several months.
Either way, you need to ensure that the service you want is manageable within your budget.
The Bottom Line
If you’re curious about a new love interest, want to check out a new neighbor, or just would like to see what information is floating around about you, there’s no reason to wait. Our list of recommended background check companies all provide a reliable and capable service that will suit a variety of wider purposes when it comes to running searches on people.
Ultimately, online background checks are not expensive, are easy to access, and fast to complete, yet the information that is compiled can lead to some unexpected and useful results.