Have a first date coming up? Looking for an estranged relative?
Instant Checkmate is a background check service that aggregates into a single report all the information about a person available in public records—email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, social media profiles, criminal records, and more. Any of this information could be found by searching individual databases, but Instant Checkmate takes out all the tedious legwork and does it all for you in a single, simple search.
Most background check companies do the same things and pull information from the same sources, so there’s not much room for variation. What makes Instant Checkmate different from the rest are its $1 five-day trial period and easy user experience.
- Easy-to-navigate user interface
- Extensive public information in a single search
- Affordable $1 five-day trial
- Multiple search method options
- Slow report loading at first
- No mobile app
- Phone or email search costs extra
How Instant Checkmate stacks up
All these informal background check services have access to the same data available in public records and on social media, so the quantity or accuracy of the information doesn’t differ much from product to product. The main differences among companies are in pricing, user interface, and bonus features.
Instant Checkmate’s monthly pricing is a just bit higher than most of its competitors, but it’s the only one to offer a $1 five-day trial period, making it the best deal out there if you have only a few searches to conduct—just make sure you cancel your membership before you’re automatically billed for a full month.
Instant Checkmate has an exceptional user interface. It’s good looking, easy to navigate, and reliable. One of my favorite features is the ability to look up a person by their email address or phone number. This is important for people wanting to research individuals they meet on dating apps or classifieds websites, since it’s easy for people to create profiles under fake names. Before you meet in real life, enter their phone number in Instant Checkmate and find out their real name and whether or not they have a criminal record. This isn’t a foolproof method, but it’s a step or two further than most tricksters are prepared for.
Perhaps less safety-oriented but more fun is Instant Checkmate’s horoscope compatibility lookup. That’s right—at the end of a person’s report, you can check your sign against theirs and find out if your stars are aligned.
What’s in an Instant Checkmate report?
Instant Checkmate does not guarantee any minimum amount of information per report, and when I ran my test searches, the quantity of data points varied quite a bit from person to person (I’ll say more on that later).
Here’s what may be included in a standard report from Instant Checkmate:
- Visual timeline of record contents including address records, social media account creation, email address registration, education information, etc.
- Personal information including full name, aliases, and photos pulled from social media
- Related people, usually possible relatives, and the option to view their reports
- Contact information, including landlines, cellphone numbers, and multiple email addresses
- Location information displayed in a map, plus multiple addresses associated with the name and corresponding dates of residence
- Criminal records, including date of offense, charges, source of record, and extensive details about the charges
- Social media accounts, including Facebook, Amazon wishlists, TripAdvisor, and more
- Professional licenses, such as FAA pilot’s licenses and DEA controlled substance licenses
- Sex offenders living in close proximity to the person’s last known address
- Horoscopes and astrological compatibility search
According to Instant Checkmate, premium reports may include the following:
- Civil judgments
- Corporate affiliations
- Concealed carry permits
- UCC filings
- Properties owned
- Old phone numbers
- Additional email addresses
- Tax liens
- Professional licenses
- Hunting permits
- Weapons permits
- SSN issuance date/location
- Aircraft owned
- Business associates
Again, none of these data points are guaranteed—it all depends on how much of this information is available in public record, and that varies quite a bit from person to person.
Instant Checkmate pricing structure
Instant Checkmate offers monthly and one-time report options. Most users will be interested in a standard report membership, which allows you to search by name or location. Here’s a summary of all Instant Checkmate’s pricing:
|Service||1 month unlimited standard reports||3 months unlimited standard reports||Premium report||PDF versions of reports||Unlimited phone number|
|Unlimited email reports|
|Pricing structure||Per month||Per every 3 months||Per report||Per report||Per year||Per month|
|1 month unlimited standard reports||3 months unlimited standard reports||Premium report||PDF versions of reports||Unlimited phone number|
|Unlimited email reports|
|Per month||Per every 3 months||Per report||Per report||Per year||Per month|
For standard report memberships, your credit card or PayPal account will be billed automatically at the end of each agreed-upon period. For example, if you sign up for the three-month subscription, after the first three months are up, you’ll be automatically billed another $83.47 for the next three months.
However, if you hang around the site long enough, you’ll be offered a $1 five-day trial membership. This is a great way to test out Instant Checkmate’s services without a major financial commitment. If you don’t cancel your membership before the end of the five days, your credit card will be automatically billed $34.78 for a one-month membership.
Once you get through the paywall and run a report, you have the option to purchase a premium report, which gathers data from a larger pool of sources, for $19.99 or a less-expensive PDF version of the report for $2.99. While these PDFs are a cleaner way to keep track of records, taking a screenshot (for free) will serve most users just as well.
If you don’t know a person’s name (or want to verify it), you can search by phone number or email address. These search options are separate from the unlimited standard reports package—you can purchase both, or you can purchase just one. You can get 12 months of unlimited phone reports for $23.40 or one month of unlimited email reports for $7.99.
How can I use this information?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that Instant Checkmate or any similar service is not an official channel from which any legal decisions can be made and will not hold up as evidence in a court of law. Any information uncovered in these reports should be double-checked and verified against official records (such as criminal offenses).
So before you sign up, make sure you don’t need to use Instant Checkmate for anything that would require Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliance, including decisions about the following:
- Consumer credit
- Tenant screening
- Household help (nannies, etc.) screening
This information can be used for personal research, like for the following examples:
- Finding contact information for long-lost friends and relatives
- Researching potential romantic partners
- Researching your kids’ friends’ parents
- Finding sex offenders in your neighborhood
Getting the most out of Instant Checkmate
I took advantage of the $1 five-day trial and ran several different types of searches in order to test its accuracy and experience the full array of features. I searched my own name, people I know a lot about, people I only know a little about, and people who have a criminal record. The information turned up by each search was fairly accurate, but it’s a good idea to cross-check any data points before jumping to conclusions.
Here are my two main takeaways from the search experience:
- A person with several social media accounts associated with a single email address will have more information available than a person without social media accounts or who uses different email addresses for those accounts. Because of this, the reports for younger people tend to be more thorough than for non-digital natives.
- The service isn’t good at differentiating between two people with the same name. I looked up a few pairs of fathers and sons with the same name and all their information was mixed together in the same single report. I expect the same is true of people with common first and last names, like “Sarah Smith.”
When I decided to cancel my subscription, the process was remarkably easy. I simply went to my account settings and clicked a button that said “cancel my subscription.” There was no form to fill out, I just selected a reason for canceling and confirmed the action. I immediately got an email from PayPal saying Instant Checkmate had even refunded my $1.
What do customers have to say about Instant Checkmate?
Instant Checkmate has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and customers generally have good things to say about the site—both about the information they discovered and the website interface. Complaints are usually left when the customer was charged after canceling their account, so be sure to follow up after cancellation to confirm your card won’t be charged.
“Great Service and very big help to make sure you’re doing business with ethical and honest professionals. We were also able to Check our OWN records and remove some large inaccuracies. I have been also able to locate former Army and Work associates with whom I have lost touch.” -Mike, Consumer Affairs 10/2/17
“Thank you! This is a great system and I love the slick, well laid out user interface. Easy to use, comprehensive data results. Only wish that the premium data was based on monthly flat rate fee vs per case. Has social media links that other websites do not have. Also seems to have more data up front after the initial search to help you identify the correct person to click on for a details report.” -Michele, Consumer Affairs 8/27/17
“I just realized, I’ve been ‘donating’ each month to Instant Checkmate, I forgot to unsubscribe. I am currently waiting on-hold, to cancel. As expect, they are not answering. So, ‘Customer Service’….. please, answer your 24/7 hotline!” -Bonnie, Better Business Bureau 6/15/17
“Service is a waste of money. Information provided is very generic and some of it is inaccurate. They hook you in and then offer “more information” for signing up for a premium package. Would definitely not recommend this company and their business practices and messaging seems deceiving.” -Jay, Better Business Bureau 3/20/17
Do we recommend Instant Checkmate?
We recommend Instant Checkmate for basic people research. The company is just as reliable as other similar services and makes finding out about a person so much easier. Instant Checkmate does have some nice features that set it apart from the competition:
- Its $1 five-day trial is the lowest introductory price out there.
- Its phone number and email lookup is ideal for online dating and Craigslist transactions.
Instant Checkmate is also valuable to those who are trying to get in contact with a long-lost friend or relative because it pulls all available mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses from public records, giving you multiple channels for connection. It’s just important to have appropriate expectations—the information can’t be perfect or complete. People who are difficult to find in Google searches may still yet be elusive in a service like this because they’re either good at covering their tracks or there’s little data on them in digital records.
Despite these inescapable information gaps, Instant Checkmate is a reliable and simple way to find who you’re looking for.
Looking for someone? Start your first search.