You could be clinking champagne glasses and laughing the night away with someone who has you completely fooled. If you’ve ever been scammed in some way, big or small, you know how overwhelming and shameful it feels to have your trust violated. You question how you could have let things happen, how you didn’t see the signs—but you forget that some people are just masters when it comes to deception. Protecting yourself and your loved ones is a full-time job and thanks to some of the best background check services, you have allies that support you on your quest to keep your social circle secure.
Whether you have your doubts about someone or you make it a standard practice to pull background checks for every new person you encounter, you have to know which background check services are doing the best work. We found the top three to make your next search easier. Just keep reading below to learn more about each of our best background check services, including what makes them so great and how simple they are to use.
3 Best Background Check Services – Summary
- Truthfinder – Best Background Check Service
- Instant Checkmate – Runner Up
- Spokeo – Honorable Mention
3 Best Background Check Services – Reviews & Analyses
1. Truthfinder – Editor’s Choice – Best Background Check Service
- Search with just a name
- Get lightning fast results
- Best service available
- Select from multiple membership plans
- Unfortunately, international databases are not accessed via this service (only within the US)
Why This Service
TruthFinder allows you to search in a variety of ways because heck, sometimes all you have is a fuzzy phone number/name on a cocktail napkin or a blurry photo that makes you feel like you need some real Photoshop or detective skills (we’ve been there). Even if you only have a name, you can still find a lot of information. With TruthFinder’s best background check service you can also look for someone using their address, phone number, or email address. Keep in mind, though, that access to all these search possibilities is limited by your membership package. Regardless of how you search, you can rest assured that TruthFinder will go much further than a simple Google search. TruthFinder explores hidden databases on the deep web, revealing facts that standard search engines would ordinarily overlook. Think nitty-gritty details.
About the Company
TruthFinder is regarded as one of the most popular public record search engines in the United States. They’ve been assisting Americans in learning more about the individuals in their life and reconnecting with long-lost loved ones since 2015. Whether you just need to learn more about a specific person or you’re traveling down Memory Lane on social media to reconnect with your past, their main goal is to make searching for public documents online as simple as possible. TruthFinder completes tasks that would normally take you days or weeks to complete on your own—leave the detective play to TruthFinder and get acquainted with new information in just a matter of seconds.
Whether you’re looking to reconnect with estranged relatives, conduct online dating research, take care of your family (especially when they venture into new, online relationships), or simply discover more about your neighbors, TruthFinder makes it simple to conduct checks on anyone you want to learn more about. The best part is it’s done securely—the people you’re searching for won’t know you’ve looked into their pasts. You can even utilize TruthFinder to do a deep dive on yourself! What if there’s someone out there who’s running a search on you? What are they finding out about you? A search using your name allows you to maintain your internet reputation and resolve any errors you uncover in public records.
How to Start
To begin your search right away, use the background check search bar and click the search button. It’s really as simple as performing a regular search engine search but the databases accessed are significantly broader. TruthFinder begins examining its databases to learn more about the individual you’ve entered information about. You’ll see that as each second passes, more records that are being searched show on your screen. There’s something satisfying about watching the search advance—with each new record pulled, you get closer to obtaining a full picture of the person in question. This part of the search could take up to two minutes to finish.
For TruthFinder to unearth all these snippets and tidbits that together create a whole picture, all you need is a full name. That’s probably one of the most awesome features of TruthFinder because they work with the limited information you have. That fuzzy name on the cocktail napkin suddenly comes alive! If you know the city and state where the person you’re investigating lives, you can provide that information as well, but TruthFinder won’t need all the details upfront to perform a thorough background check.
How It Works
You’ll be immediately asked a few simple questions, like if you know if the person in question has ever lived in a given city or state. During this process, TruthFinder is working to narrow down the search results to provide you with more accurate information. You have the option of answering yes, no, or not sure. Give TruthFinder the two minutes it requires to conduct a comprehensive search, and you’ll get your results almost immediately. If you were able to answer some of those extra questions, the search has already been narrowed for you and your results will be even more accurate. But if you discover that the subject you’ve identified isn’t the appropriate person, you can narrow your selections by changing your search and running it again.
Their present location, including city and state, as well as their age, are provided. This initial list typically includes people with the same name who have lived in a particular area. Sometimes you’ll get a long list, other times a shortlist depending on how common or unique the name you entered is. A list of cities where they’ve previously resided appears next to their age. You can decide whether you have the proper person with this information up front. Once you’re certain you’ve found the appropriate person, click the open report button to see what else the service has discovered. The report is where you get all the juicy info you’ve been curious to learn.
Why You Need to Try It
You may perform a background check on someone by name, city, or state using TruthFinder. Start with whatever information you have and let TruthFinder use its advanced algorithms to guide you closer to the truth. You can learn a lot about somebody in the United States even if you just have a couple of those pieces of information. It’s like having a key that unlocks the door into their past—TruthFinder just finds the right door to open. Simply type in a full name, and TruthFinder will conduct background checks to unearth a large list of details that describe the past choices of the person.
You can use TruthFinder to look up a phone number, an email address, or even a street location. If you noticed that your lover has been frequenting a specific location, you may not have many details but that’s all you need to find out more about who lives there. Each of these background check services is provided to you so that you have options for retrieving background check information anytime you need it, regardless of how limited your information is, to begin with. Seriously, it’s like having someone on your team that helps you find out all the details you could want with some clever internet searches.
What You’ll Learn
Personal information such as full names, ages, dates of birth, known aliases, and any available images of that person will be revealed during a background check. Put a face to the name on the fuzzy cocktail napkin or uncover the aliases of someone you thought you knew. You’ll also receive a behind-the-scenes peek at their prior professions and education, as well as a list of potential relatives. Learn about the whole family tree if you want to! You can look further into each prospective relative to see a background check report on them.
Access to potential relatives can help you piece together a bigger picture of how you’re related to the individual you’re looking into. This could be an awesome feature for those of you looking to reconnect with long-lost loved ones. Aside from finding potential relatives, the background check also includes probable associates. This might be anyone from the person’s roommate to friends or business associates. TruthFinder isn’t finished yet because just when you think you’ve found all the information you need, they’ll connect you with that person’s possible relationships—we’re talking potential friendships, roommates, lovers, and more. Anyone who is potentially in that person’s social circle gets highlighted, so you can continue your search or make sense of their possible acquaintances.
Any relevant links to other internet content including social media will be included in the background check. Remember when MySpace was the most popular social media website? How many people created profiles and completely forgot about them? The same thing happened with personal blogs and other websites, where you can find a ton of information about a person’s past. They probably wouldn’t even know how to sign in to these accounts but that doesn’t mean you can’t read through their old posts. If you only have a name, the background check will give you contact information such as possible email addresses, their current phone number, and their carrier location to give you insight into where they may be located. You’ll also obtain information on potential neighbors, criminal records, sex offender information, and assets.
TruthFinder’s background check service is quite thorough, which is why we consider it to be one of the top online background check companies and our choice for best background check service.
2. Instant Checkmate – Runner Up
- Ideal for looking into criminal records
- Highly reputable background check company
- Find possible records before committing
- Find the traffic, criminal, and arrest information
- You must subscribe to a monthly membership to pull background checks
Why This Service
There’s something really special about a company that wants to take care of you while protecting your privacy (BFF energy, much?). Instant Checkmate offers prompt, helpful member support that can assist you as you navigate their background check site to uncover critical information on a background check—they don’t know what you’re trying to find out, they’re just there for you when you need them. Maybe not quite as available as a BFF but definitely generous with their customer service hours, you can reach them Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST.
About the Company
Instant Checkmate gives you access to the power of information—and while everyone wants to say ignorance is bliss, uncertainty and doubt can really feel like hell. You can discover the truth about everyone in your life, even the ones you wouldn’t think would hold something back from you. Most people can be honest, but primarily when it’s convenient for them. With this service, customers are always put first—which may just feel like a stark contrast from the person you’re looking into (no shade, but if you’re digging further, there’s probably something to uncover). Instant Checkmate wants to make sure you get the most helpful, detailed, and important information possible on someone with a background check—which you deserve, even if the person you’re investigating doesn’t agree (it’s not up to them, right?). Use their revolutionary technology to run a background check that checks criminal records and sex offender databases in only a few minutes. Find out the truth without investing your precious time and attention in someone who doesn’t deserve it.
How to Start
The search bar at the top of Instant Checkmate’s webpage is seriously the easiest part of this background check site. Just pop the person’s first and last names in, as well as their current location. You can be confident that your connection is completely safe, which means the person you’re looking into won’t be aware that you’re conducting a background check on them. Can you imagine if a service alerted the person you’re looking into about you? Gross! But Instant Checkmate is all about protecting your privacy while helping you get the skinny on that person you’re curious about.
You can access court records and arrest records without disclosing your intentions to discover more about a certain person with this background check service—fine, you’re curious but they don’t need to know you’re curious. Let them think they’re fooling you (if they are!) but also, rest in the comfort of knowing they’re telling the truth when you see the information you uncover matches up with what they’ve told you. Instant Checkmate is dedicated to gathering information from public records online, presenting it to you in a well-organized background check report, and safeguarding your personal information.
How It Works
You can order a background check report after entering those three crucial pieces of information, and Instant Checkmate will immediately begin scanning their federal, state, and county data sources. That’s right, even if the person has started over in a new city, this service accesses wide-reaching records to make sure you learn everything there is to know. If you have additional information, such as the person’s current location, you can use it to narrow down your search. This just helps their algorithms work more efficiently but if you don’t know much about the city, you can skip over it (you’ll miss out on some important information though so try to do your homework ahead of time).
As you’re instructed to give more information, keep an eye on the progress indicator. You may be prompted to answer if the person you’re looking for is connected to anybody with a similar name, and you can answer yes, no, or I’m not sure. Again, these questions are only asked because one helpful answer can aid in the overall accuracy of your report. If you know the person’s age you’re looking for, Instant Checkmate will inquire if they’re 40 or older, to which you can respond yes, no, or continue answering the questions if you don’t know. Simple pieces of information that you may not have thought to hold heavy importance can make the difference between finding the right person or having to sift through pages of “John Smith” background checks. Especially if you’re searching for a common name, try to bolster your search with some extra information.
Why You Need to Try It
After you’ve double-checked the basic identifying information, you can move on over to open the report. Instant Checkmate retrieves accurate, current information like social media pages, the content the person is interested in, criminal history, contact information, and any relatives and relationships the person may have right away. During the couple minutes when the progress indicator appears on your skin and you’re prompted to answer a few extra questions, Instant Checkmate is retrieving and organizing the information they uncover so you can satisfy your curiosity. In just a few minutes, you’ll get a comprehensive report with crucial data points. Just make sure you don’t refresh, close, or hit the back button on your browser while the report is downloading. Don’t disturb the process! Simply relax, watch those records fly across the screen, and let Instant Checkmate deliver the perfect background check report.
What You’ll Learn
Instant Checkmate allows you to look up traffic records, criminal records, and arrest records of anyone you’re interested in learning more about. Most people tend to hide pieces of their past that they’re ashamed about. This could be as simple as a traffic infraction but could also be as serious as a felony. This service is designed for people who want to find out if someone they know has any criminal history. If you’re going out with friends and dates online, this information is very important. It’s an act of self-protection to look into the past of new acquaintances—you can never be too trusting. People frequently misrepresent themselves, and the best method to learn more about their background is to conduct a background check through one of the best background check services.
Instant Checkmate searches public records across the country to find the criminal records that connect the person to a crime. You’ll be able to see a person’s criminal history, including prospective offenses, dates of offenses, and any current status connected to illegal behavior. You’ll learn right away if the charges were filed recently or if they were something that occurred long ago. People can change and work toward restoring their lives, even after they’ve made mistakes. This can be helpful information in deciding whether you want to give someone a chance to be in your life. You’ll find records ranging from minor traffic violations to more serious offenses such as felony charges and sex offender information. Some crimes, of course, are unforgivable. Knowing what a person has done can keep you safe.
You may learn about someone’s criminal history, including if they have been charged with vandalism, embezzlement, fraud, robbery, or even murder in the past. Some past actions are easy to overlook while some past actions, like embezzlement, especially when you’re considering doing business with someone, are simply too much of a risk. Sometimes, people are discharged from prison early after committing heinous crimes. And just because a crime was committed decades ago doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know exactly what went down.
3. Spokeo – Honorable Mention
- Simple to understand report format
- Award-winning background check service
- Track any phone number with ease
- Personal and enterprise use capabilities
- You’ll need to subscribe for a membership to access background checks, though you can easily cancel once you’ve pulled the background checks you need
Why This Service
One of the best features of Spokeo is that you can conduct real-time background checks. This means that the instant you run a background check, you’re opening the door to any details on that stranger (or friend!) on the internet. This implies that you will receive any new information obtained from public records at no additional expense. Okay, so—say you pulled a report last month, but it was too close to the date of an important event. Spokeo keeps scanning for updates on that report and you can check back to see any updates for events that have occurred between the date you pulled the report and the current date. If you’re looking into a person’s criminal records and they haven’t been updated yet, Spokeo will keep you informed of any new information coming across their databases. If it’s new social media activity, Spokeo will pick it up. They not only conduct the investigative work upfront, but they also have you covered with any other information floating around the internet regarding the person you’ve searched for.
About the Company
The best part of Spokeo is that you don’t have to be a subscriber to do a background check. For some people, it’s a total bummer when background check sites require a subscription for a monthly membership to access background check results. Instead, Spokeo tries a different model and lets you buy individual background checks! This is perhaps why so many of Spokeo’s users consider it to be one of the best background check companies. They don’t require your commitment upfront but if you sign up for a membership, you will be able to access background checks at any time during the month. When you’re looking to uncover information about a group of people, you may be better off with the membership option that lets you conduct multiple searches. You can get a lot more information by pulling many background checks rather than just one. However, if you’re set on just one person, the ability to pull just one report may be the most attractive feature!
How to Start
Spokeo, like the other best background check sites described here, makes finding information straightforward. To get started, you only need a name, an email address, a property address, or a phone number. They work with whatever your starting point is. Use whatever resources you have, and Spokeo will handle the investigation. Whether you’ve already conducted your search with your investigative skills or are relying on Spokeo to take care of all the work, the process is easy. Simply click the “search now” button after using their search box, and Spokeo will begin working to gather all the details from their databases to supply you with the information you require right away.
How It Works
With a Spokeo’s service, you may learn about criminal records, probable relatives, associates, social media records, and even personal hobbies. It’s fascinating how much information you can uncover about someone when you run a search like this! Through official records, you can discover everything about a person’s income, employment history, social media connections and any other information that is available, such as contact and location information. Depending on the reason for your search, you may be satisfied with just a few important details. But for those of you who want to know everything, you’ll love how thorough Spokeo background check reports are.
Why You Need to Try It
Spokeo’s award-winning customer service team is US-based and always willing to lead you enthusiastically through your search. They’re available Monday through Sunday from 5 AM to 8 PM Pacific Standard Time. Spokeo also has a list of guides that can help their customers find out information on how to track a phone number, how to find someone’s cell phone number by name, and plenty more to get you acquainted with the many wonders of background check searches. Take the time to review their customer reviews as well, to discover how Spokeo has helped people from across the nation.
You’ll find that Spokeo has come in handy, and has even come into the save the day, depending on the person’s reason for inquiry. Clients have been able to stop harassing calls, they’ve been able to learn more about online sellers before meeting in person, and they’ve been able to reconnect with long-lost loved ones. Everyone has a story and a reason for using these types of background check services, and you may come across a story that resonates with yours.
How Did We Choose These 3 Background Check Sites?
We had to conduct some research to get this list of the best background check sites written out so clearly. Just type in “best background check” on any search engine, and you’ll discover that several different companies provide the best background checks accessible. But are they just trying to draw you in, or can they deliver? We’re not fans of false promises—and neither are you. We selected each background check service based on the following factors:
- Deep Dive Reporting
When you’re conducting a background check on someone you want to learn more about, you should obtain not just the easy information like their name and address, but also the kind of information only a deep dive can deliver. Whether you’re looking for criminal records, court records, social media activity or job records, you should be given a complete picture in a simple format that gives you the details you didn’t even know you needed.
Let’s be honest. We’ve all grown accustomed to easy one-click processes and instant gratification. We chose the best background check services that make finding information on the internet simple. You can start with whatever information you have on hand, and the services take on the brunt of the work to deliver background checks in clear, detailed reports.
- Customers Who Are Happy
Reading reviews is half the fun. And the actual measure of a background check service’s success is the number of satisfied customers. We examined their reviews and testimonies to get a sense of what the customer experience is like, from the beginning of a search to the kind of information they discovered, and how it changed their lives.
- Quick Response Times
It may not happen often, but there are situations when a background check is required within a short time window, and you have to hustle to get the information. When you’re in a hurry, having access to a background check service with quick return times is invaluable. We chose background check services that not only provide detailed reporting but also supply the background checks you require immediately.
When Should You Use Background Check Services?
Background check services are awesome because you decide when you want to use them. It’s a smart tool to have available for anyone who has people around them—and unless you’re living off-grid somewhere in the forest, that’s you. There will always be occasions when you meet someone new. You could connect with a new co-worker, discover you have personal interests in common with a neighbor, or you could have recently relocated to a completely new town or city. People are everywhere and each one is walking around with a host of truths and secrets locked away in their minds. While these services can’t read minds, you can definitely learn more about how a person functions in society when public records are pulled.
Now, these services are only meant to be used for personal reasons. The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits how these services are used, meaning you cannot use the information you find to make tenancy decisions or for employment background checks. These services are for personal use only and should be handled as such. Look for the disclaimer toward the bottom of the websites for any of the services listed above—you’ll see that they are not considered consumer reporting agencies as defined by The Fair Credit Reporting Act. When pulling a report, it is expected that you understand these restrictions and use the information you find responsibly.
How to Choose the Best Background Check Service?
The best way to choose a background check service that works for you is to understand their deliverables. We highlighted what you can expect to uncover from each service—some are geared toward criminal pasts, while others provide a better look into social media, personal interests and hobbies, and possible relationships. It’s also important to consider whether you prefer a membership for multiple checks or if a one-and-done option is better suited for your needs.
What Does a Background Check Show?
There are all sorts of background checks available. The best background check is one that is tailored to your exact requirements. Depending on the service you choose, you’ll get information geared toward a specific purpose. But you’ll find the majority of the information below is contained in a single report.
Checks for criminal records are included in background checks.
Information about a person’s criminal history is included in background checks. The services comb through a range of public databases, including national criminal databases, county criminal court records, and even domestic and international terrorism watchlists, to find information. They search far and wide so even if you’re dealing with someone on the run, they’re bound to be found (don’t forget aliases!). Information on a person’s criminal history includes facts about any previous offenses and convictions, as well as information about sexual offenses (a must-know piece of information, especially when dating!).
Background checks on traffic infractions and driving.
Any information about traffic accidents, driving record points, the state of their driver’s license, any DUIs, and other traffic law offenses falls under the heading of driving and traffic information. Trusting a friend to be a designated driver who has a history of DUIs may not be the best choice. But if they don’t tell you, how do you know? If you participate in a carpooling program or entrust your kiddos to other adults when it comes to sleepovers, this information is extremely useful. Knowing a person’s driving record might help you feel more comfortable, especially if you’re leaving yourself or a loved one in their care on the road.
Previous employment information.
Previous job information is often included in background checks. Learn if Debbie from the laundromat really is a practicing family law attorney or if the hot barista you’ve been chatting up has a background in finance. Background checks highlight confirmed places of a person’s former employment in the same manner that previous employment is included on a resume. You’ll get the real details on a person’s employment history, without having to fall for their exaggerated stories. This knowledge can assist you in determining whether or not someone is telling you the truth. It could be someone you’ve just begun dating or a new friend who may be trying to impress you. You can validate that what they’re stating is true with a background check.
Background checks for sexual offenders.
If a person is on the sexual offender registry, it will appear on a report that checks backgrounds right away. This is the type of information that can save lives and protect children. These unfortunate details are made available for the sake of public safety and may be useful wherever you are. Look up the people around you whenever you relocate to a new housing unit, especially if you are or live with women (and children). Furthermore, everybody you bring into your life should be checked to guarantee they do not have a criminal record of this kind. Like we’ve said, you just can’t be too trusting. Sometimes, the most charming people have the most torrid, unimaginable pasts.
Previous education information.
Education information may be included in a background check. Some people like to fluff up their education history the way they do their resumes, but a lie is a lie. And where there is one form of dishonesty, there is bound to be another. Keeping your eyes peeled for little actions that turn into big actions can save you heartbreak.
How Long Does a Background Check Take?
Just a few minutes! You’ll watch the progress bar once you run the search and once the report is created, you’ll be able to sign up, enter your email, your payment method, and gain access right away. Live reports, like Spokeo’s, will continue updating so you can access the most up-to-date details. Any other reports you pull will be stored under your account—just download the PDFs once they’re ready and save them to a secure location on your desktop or laptop.
You may not even have thought to use a background check site, but we hope that with the information provided here, you can see the value in it. Court records, criminal records, and personal information can help you make better decisions about the people in your social circle and your professional network. A background report is designed to empower you and pulling a background report on yourself can help you clean up your online image too. Select from the best background check services above to start your search today.
This article was supplied by Green Living, a paid advertiser. Content has not been independently verified by Los Angeles magazine.