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Best Background Check Services of 2019

#1. Best for multiple reports
BeenVerified Logo
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Court runner service
  • Multiple ways to search

BeenVerified

4.13

#2. Up-to-date contact information
Truthfinder Logo
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Unlimited reports with membership
  • More information included than other brands

TruthFinder

4.00

#3. Best for one-time reports
Instant Checkmate Logo
  • Android app
  • Unlimited reports with membership
  • Inexpensive 5-day trial

Instant Checkmate

3.86

We researched and tested the most popular background check companies to find out which ones are best. You’ve got lots of options—keep reading to find the best background check service for your needs.

The best background check services of 2019:

Note: It’s illegal to use normal background check services to screen tenants, evaluate someone for employment, or approve credit.

If you’re a landlord evaluating renters, a parent hiring a nanny, or an employer checking out a potential job candidate, you’ll need to use a consumer reporting agency. Most of this article focuses on regular background check services, but you can jump to our consumer reporting agency section.

1. BeenVerified | Best overall

Overall rating

4.13/ 5

BeenVerified is our favorite option for running multiple background checks.

User experience

Price & value

Transparency

Accuracy

BeenVerified is our favorite option for running multiple background checks.

Pros

  • iOS and Android apps
  • Court runner service
  • Lots of info about associates/family members
  • Multiple ways to search
  • Transparency about legal uses of information

Cons

  • Mandatory membership
  • No trial option
  • Less information than Truthfinder reports

What we like about BeenVerified

BeenVerified is a good option if you want to run multiple background checks. It’s especially helpful if you want to learn more about a specific person’s family members and associates.

In our test, BeenVerified turned up the highest number of connected people, especially family members. And since a monthly membership lets you access 100 background reports, you can investigate someone’s immediate family, extended family, and maybe even their neighbors, depending on who turns up in the initial report.

If you’re looking to reconnect with an old friend or trying to reach a distant family member, this extra info can make you more confident that you’ve found the right person before you reach out.

Speaking of the monthly membership, BeenVerified offers one of the least expensive monthly memberships in the industry, which is another reason it’s a good option if you plan on running multiple reports.

Court runner service

Another reason we like BeenVerified is that it offers a special court runner service, since some public records can be accessed only at local courthouses. If you use the court runner service, BeenVerified will send someone to retrieve documents that you can’t get online. None of the other companies we researched offer this perk.

Diverse apps

And that’s not the only unique thing about BeenVerified. This company has taken extra steps to be as mobile friendly as possible. Many companies don’t offer a mobile app, but BeenVerified offers an Android app, an iOS app, and an Apple Watch app. While a few other companies offer mobile apps, we didn’t see any others that had smartwatch apps. A watch screen might not be ideal for scrolling through a detailed report, but it does make it easy to run a quick report if you meet someone new while you’re away from home.

>>Read our full review on BeenVerified.

2. Truthfinder | Best background check service for getting up-to-date contact information

Overall rating

4.00/ 5

Truthfinder is our favorite option for tracking down recent contact information.

User experience

Price & value

Transparency

Accuracy

Truthfinder is our favorite option for tracking down recent contact information.

Pros

  • Up-to-date contact info
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Transparency about legal uses of information
  • Multiple ways to search
  • Unlimited reports with membership
  • More information included than BeenVerified or Instant Checkmate reports

Cons

  • Mandatory membership
  • No trial option

What we like about Truthfinder

The reports we received from Truthfinder had the most accurate and up-to-date contact information. Some other services we looked at were missing contact information altogether, and others had the right information mixed in with incorrect or outdated data that made it hard to find the best phone number or email address.

Another benefit of using Truthfinder is that it includes more information in reports than BeenVerified. For example, reports include previous and current property ownership information, as well as details about sex offenders near the person’s current address—information that’s missing from BeenVerified reports.

If you’re running a check on yourself to see what turns up (and what others see about you), this is the kind of comprehensive information you’ll want.

>>Read our full Truthfinder review.

3. Instant Checkmate | Best background check service for one-time reports

Overall rating

3.86/ 5

Instant Checkmate is our favorite option for running one-time background checks.

User experience

Price & value

Transparency

Accuracy

Instant Checkmate is our favorite option for running one-time background checks.

Pros

  • Inexpensive 5-day trial
  • Up-to-date contact info
  • Android app
  • Transparency about legal uses of information
  • Unlimited reports with membership

Cons

  • Mandatory membership
  • No iOS app
  • Less information than Truthfinder reports
  • Fewer search parameters than BeenVerified and Truthfinder

What we like about Instant Checkmate

We recommend Instant Checkmate for people who want to run a background check once but don’t plan on using a background service often. Like BeenVerified and Truthfinder, Instant Checkmate requires a membership, but you can sign up for a super cheap five-day trial, which makes it one of the most affordable options for a one-time report. That works just fine if you’re chatting with someone online and want to double-check before meeting up with them for drinks.

Instant Checkmate reports aren’t quite as detailed as the reports from Truthfinder, but they still include all the basic information you’d get from a normal background check. In the checks we ran, the information was current and accurate.

>>Read our full review on Instant Checkmate.

Other background check companies to consider

We weren’t as impressed with PeopleFinders and US Search as we were with the companies mentioned above. But both these companies let you run background checks without signing up for a monthly membership—something you can’t get from any of the top three companies listed.

PeopleFinders

Pros

  • No membership required
  • Inexpensive 3-day trial
  • Lots of information included in reports
  • New mobile app for on-the-go use

Cons

  • Less transparency than other services
  • Fee to cancel membership

US Search

Pros

  • No membership required
  • Lots of information included in reports

Cons

  • No trial option
  • No mobile app
  • Less transparency than other services
  • No contact info included in report

Top five background check companies—a recap

Tenant and preemployment background checks

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Trade Commission enforce laws that are in place to prevent employment discrimination. It is illegal to use the information found in a normal background check to make employment decisions (hiring, firing, promotions, etc.), screen tenants, or determine someone’s eligibility for credit or insurance.

Consumer reporting agencies can be used for preemployment screening and tenant screening. A company must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to qualify as a consumer reporting agency.

RentPrep | Best tenant screening service

If you’re a landlord, you want to find tenants who will respect your property and pay their rent on time. RentPrep can help you quickly vet applicants, whether you need a basic background check or a credit check.

GoodHire | Best employee screening service

GoodHire is a great option for small businesses looking to screen applicants. It’s well reviewed online and has a solid reputation among other background check reviewers like PCMag and Business News Daily.

eNannySource | Best nanny background check service

eNannySource makes it easy to find the right caregiver for your family. You can purchase an all-inclusive background check or an à la carte package with just what you need. eNannySource even offers personality assessments to help you determine whether a candidate will work well with your children.

Background check services we researched but don’t recommend

Intelius

Why it didn’t make the cut: Intelius is as expensive as the companies we recommended above, but its reports include much less information than those companies. Intelius is also less clear about how the information can and can’t be used. We’d recommend sticking to a company that’s more transparent. If you’re still interested, read our full review on Intelius.

SpyFly

Why it didn’t make the cut: You have to sign up for a SpyFly membership if you want to run a background check, but if you want to cancel that membership, you have to call and talk to someone—there is no option to cancel online. The companies we recommend all have simpler and easier cancellation processes that require little to no time or interaction with sales reps.

SeekVerify

Why it didn’t make the cut: In our opinion, SeekVerify asks for too much information before you run a search. You can’t run a background check without giving them your phone number. None of the other companies we looked at require that information, and we don’t think it should be mandatory.

PeopleSmart

Why it didn’t make the cut: PeopleSmart uses BeenVerified to get all the information in background reports. You might as well just stick with the original source instead of adding a go-between.

IntegraScan

Why it didn’t make the cut: To use IntegraScan, you have to know the person’s phone number to run a partial background check, and you have to have the SSN to do a full check. Almost every other service lets you run a check with a first name, last name, and city.

Net Detective

Why it didn’t make the cut: Net Detective’s online interface is extremely out of date, which is a red flag. The bigger problem, however, is the sparse search results. Net Detective didn’t find the people we searched for, but every other service found them easily.

Background check service FAQ

Can I just do a Google search instead?

Woman searching internetBackground search companies get their information from public databases and records, so in theory, you could track down a lot of the same info by yourself. So why pay someone else?

To save time and get more information.

A background check company can quickly get hard-to-find information and condense it all into one convenient report. You might easily find someone’s LinkedIn profile, but it would take a lot more work to find information about property ownership and criminal activity.

Instead of spending weeks tracking down details, you can spend a few minutes typing in a name and a city and let the pros do the work for you. That way you can make sure you feel comfortable before you send your kid to a friend’s house or pick up furniture from a Craigslist stranger.

What information is included in an online background check?

Background reports vary dramatically from one company to the next, and all of them rely on public records, so even the best services won’t be perfectly accurate. Some of the services we tested included up-to-date contact information, property ownership details, and criminal background info, while others didn’t even have a correct phone number.

When can you use a normal background check service?

As mentioned earlier, there are some things you can use a background check service for, but there are other things that are illegal unless you go through a consumer reporting agency.

Don’t:

× Screen someone for employment
× Make decisions about promotions or employment terminations
× Screen potential tenants
× Evaluate household workers like nannies, cleaners, landscapers, etc.
× Determine eligibility for credit or insurance
× Decide whether to give someone a scholarship or admit them to an educational program

If you need to complete a preemployment screening or tenant screening, you should use a consumer reporting agency.

Do:

Scope out a potential date
Make sure you’re comfortable before sending kids to a neighbor’s house
Run a check on yourself and make sure nothing weird shows up
Investigate a stranger before selling or buying something online
Track down extended family members
Find contact information for old friends
Check out potential roommates
Find out who has been making spam phone calls

Our recommendation

BeenVerified is our top background check service pick for most people because it costs less, it’s easy to use, and it turned up accurate information.

BeenVerified

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13 responses to “Best Background Check Services of 2019”

  1. I agree, Tom. Total waste of money and, worse, breached my safety. Relying upon reports I assumed were accurate, I went forward with a relationship that turned into a total nightmare. Meanwhile, the truth of who the EX was shows up in the police records. Obviously, BeenVerified doesn’t dig deep enough as I found out a little too late.

  2. Great question! Although these background check websites obtain their data from the same source, I believe they vary due to the algorithms each company chooses to use.

  3. Curious…. Since the article states all these background check websites obtain their data from the same source…. THEN HOW IS THERE SUCH A VARIANCE IN ACCURACY!?

  4. A quick Google search advised that you plug their name into the search bar, look through the obituary of local newspapers (you can find many online) or look through online public records. I hope this helps. Best of luck.

  5. I had a yearly subscription to Beenverified I used it to look up myself, and according to their website, I was currently serving a two year sentence in TDC (Texas Department of Corrections) prison! This was not correct, not only have I never been to prison, I’ve never been convicted of a crime that could land me in prison. I called them, emailed them, and was told that all they do is put in what the ‘reporting agency’s’ give them. I called TDC, I called Travis County, Austin, TX, and all of them said they had nothing in their records to show I had A) been convicted of any crime, or B) was there any record of me being in prison or serving time, currently or otherwise.
    That being said, I called and emailed customer service at Beenverified back and they said they would not change the data on my report, even though I had verified it was incorrect. Where Beenverifed gets their verification or how their process works is beyond me, but I was surprised they refunded my entire yearly fee.
    I have had a hell of a time getting a job since noticing that. I can only assume, that this prison sentence is a typo or mistake, but what can I do!? It is amazing how your life can be turned upside down by something like this, or by identity theft via the Internet, but it is what it is, I suppose.
    Anyhow, I would not recommend Beenverified, because even when you verify their information is incorrect, they don’t even seem to think it’s worth ‘verifying’ to check, and this is to a person paying around $120/yr for a membership!!
    After reading through these reviews, I still don’t see one company I think the information can be trusted.

  6. A shame companies won’t give credit for non biased reviews. Which of course makes a consumer leary of them all. I appreciate what you said about Instant Checkmate (which pops up everywhere) giving the buyer an option. I’m also really interested in, I think it was KnowX with the free tips. Who doesn’t like that? However, with the entire world being so ADHD now, it’s true we want tips, and simplicity, which equals longevity as a customer. Or it does for me.
    Thanks for the review.

  7. I’ve used private investigator services in the past. I’ve used US Search and more recently People Smart. I was with the latter for at least a year. I felt that I wasn’t getting good data and the monthly cost applied whether I was searching one person or a handful, which I thought was unfair. And there were limits to the number of people I could search for (just basic information) at a given time. When I indicated I wanted to cancel my subscription, they offered to reduce the price from $19.95/month to $4.95/month. Do you think this was a “good deal?” To me it indicated that they were gouging their customers since they obviously were making money at the lower price! I quit! But I am looking for a reasonable service that will allow me to find phone and address, or reverse lookup, and email addresses on a regular basis, and for criminal information (court records) occasionally. Also, from time to time, I need an address history. I appreciate your analysis. It gives a good starting point to check out these services.

  8. I’ve used private investigator services in the past. I’ve used US Search and more recently People Smart. I was with the latter for at least a year. I felt that I wasn’t getting good data and the monthly cost applied whether I was searching one person or a handful, which I thought was unfair. And there were limits to the number of people I could search for (just basic information) at a given time. When I indicated I wanted to cancel my subscription, they offered to reduce the price from $19.95/month to $4.95/month. Do you think this was a “good deal?” To me it indicated that they were gouging their customers since they obviously were making money at the lower price! I quit! But I am looking for a reasonable service that will allow me to find phone and address, or reverse lookup, and email addresses on a regular basis, and for criminal information (court records) occasionally. Also, from time to time, I need an address history. I appreciate your analysis. It gives a good starting point to check out these services.

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