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Best Background Check Services of 2019

RecommendationBest for multiple reportsBest for up-to-date contact informationBest for one-time reports
CompanyBest background checkBest background checkInstant Checkmate Review
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Recommendation
Company
Learn more
Best for multiple reports Best for up-to-date contact information Best for one-time reports
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Curious about an old high school friend, new neighbor, or potential date? You might be able to hunt down a few pictures on social media or dig up some basic info with a Google search, but if you really want to get the details, you may need to run a background check.

A background check makes it easier to track down the contact information for your old college roommate or find out if that cute dude from Tinder is who he says he is. A background report can answer lots of questions (or raise new ones), but first you need to find the right service.

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

Best background check services for 2019

Best background check service for multiple reports: BeenVerified

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 for running multiple background checks—especially if you want to look into a specific person and learn more about their family members and associates.

When we ran background checks, 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.

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.

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

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, a normal iOS app, and an Apple Watch app—while a few other companies offered 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.

Click here to read our full review.

Best background check service for getting up-to-date contact information: Truthfinder

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

If you’re looking for someone’s current contact information, we suggest trying Truthfinder. The reports we received from Truthfinder had the most accurate and up-to-date contact information. Some of the other reports we looked at were missing contact information altogether, and others had the right information mixed in with incorrect or out-of-date 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 property ownership information (previous and current), as well as details about sex offenders near the person’s current address—information that’s missing from BeenVerified reports.

Click here to read our full review.

Best background check service for one-time reports: Instant Checkmate

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

Instant Checkmate is our recommendation 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 an extremely inexpensive five-day trial, which makes it one of the cheapest options for getting a one-time report.

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

Click here to read our full review.

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 of 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.

Pros

  • No membership required
  • Inexpensive 3-day trial
  • Lots of information included in reports

Cons

  • No mobile app
  • Less transparency than other services
  • Fee to cancel membership

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

Background check services we researched but don’t recommend

Intelius

Why it didn’t make the cut

Intelius is as expensive or more expensive than the companies we recommended above, but reports include much less information than those companies. Intelius was also less clear about how the information could and couldn’t be used. We’d recommend sticking to a company that is more transparent. You can read our full review here.

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 required 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 middleman.

IntegraScan

Why it didn’t make the cut

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 bit of a red flag. The bigger problem, however, was the extremely sparse search results. Net Detective didn’t find the people we searched for, but every other service found them easily.

Background Check Services FAQs

best background check serviceCan I just do a Google search instead?

Background 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. It might be easy for you to 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.

Can I use this information to hire people or screen potential tenants?

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.

It is illegal to use the information found in a normal background check to make employment decisions, screen tenants, or determine someone’s eligibility for credit or insurance.

Consumer reporting agencies can be used for pre-employment screening and tenant screening. A company must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to qualify as a consumer reporting agency. This particular article focuses on only normal background check companies, but if you need to screen potential tenants or run a pre-employment background check, RentPrep and GoodHire are popular companies with good reputations.

To learn more about how you can and can’t use information from a background check, see our dos and don’ts section later in the article.

When can you use a 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.

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

As mentioned earlier, if you need to pre-employment screening or tenant screening, you should use a consumer reporting agency.

Do:

  • Scope out a potential date, whether you met online or were set up by friends
  • 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
RecommendationBest for multiple reportsBest for up-to-date contact informationBest for one-time reports
CompanyBest background checkBest background checkInstant Checkmate Review
Learn moreView plansView plansView plans
Recommendation
Company
Learn more
Best for multiple reports Best for up-to-date contact information Best for one-time reports
Best background check Best background check Instant Checkmate Review
View plans View plans View plans

A background check can help you protect yourself, find old friends, keep your kids safe, and satisfy your curiosity. What you find may surprise you—just be sure to use the information responsibly.

Have you used a background check company in the past? Did you find what you were looking for? We’d love to hear your stories. Share your experiences in the comments below.

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About Brianna Jensen

Brianna Jensen
Brianna is an experienced copywriter and editor who has written about home security, personal safety, insurance, and much more. She loves doing thorough research, finding objective ways to evaluate options, and sharing what she’s learned with others who are interested in new technology and home security.
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