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Background Check Services: Intelius Review

Pros

  • Free mobile app with two-day trial
  • Seven-day free trial for Intelius Premier Plus membership
  • Multiple services: people search, background check, criminal check, reverse phone lookup

Cons

  • Higher price than other services
  • No refunds or credits
  • Lack of transparency regarding pricing and cancellation fees
  • Outdated or missing information from reports
  • Casual treatment of FCRA information and caveats

If you’ve ever looked into getting a background check done on someone, you’ve likely heard of Intelius. Intelius is an online people search service that provides background checks in addition to all kinds of other personal information. In spite of being a fairly well-known service, however, Intelius is not one of our top three recommended background check services. We’ve got all the information you need to understand why.

What Intelius is

Intelius is primarily a people search service, but it also provides background checks, criminal record searches, and a reverse phone lookup. To do a people search, you can search for someone by name and location, phone number, email, or address. If the information is available, you see the person’s contact information, social network links, family members, education, and work history. Background checks and criminal record searches add information about things like a person’s criminal history, lawsuits, bankruptcies, and court case information.

All this information is on public record, which means you could take time to search it out for yourself. But using a background check service like Intelius means you don’t have to invest the time, energy, and hassle to find the information you’re looking for.

What Intelius isn’t

Intelius is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). That means it’s illegal to use Intelius to determine a person’s eligibility for credit, insurance, housing, employment, or any other purpose covered by the FCRA. Intelius has a disclaimer that communicates this information, but it isn’t prominently displayed or emphasized on the website. This is one strike against Intelius—we prefer companies with obvious transparency and accountability.

Prices and packages: More expensive than competition

While you can pay for individual services from Intelius, it’s cheaper to sign up for an Intelius Premier Plus membership for $29.95 per month. That price is pretty comparable to that of similar services, and it gets you unlimited people searches and one background check voucher per month.

Tip: Make sure to use that voucher each month, because it expires at the end of the month if you don’t use it.

The voucher model is different from other services, most of which include multiple background checks in their monthly membership fees. While Intelius’s monthly fee is not too much higher than other services, the lack of multiple background is a big strike against the company. Intelius also makes it more comparatively expensive to purchase services à la carte, making Intelius more expensive overall.

When you sign up for an Intelius membership you get a seven-day free trial. If you cancel at any time during those seven days, you will be charged a $7.95 cancellation fee. You also can’t use your background check for free during your free trial—if you use it, Intelius will charge your account and sign you up for a paid membership. Intelius doesn’t offer refunds or credits, regardless of when you cancel your paid membership.

Not only are these strict policies not customer-friendly, they are also not made clear on the website except in the fine print. In addition to being more expensive than other services, Intelius is not up front about its pricing, policies, or fees, and that lack of transparency is a huge downside.

Features: Basic and limited

Intelius offers several different services that typically report on the same information, with some variation. In general, we found that the information in an Intelius report is basic and less extensive compared to the reports from many other services, including our top three choices—BeenVerified, Truthfinder, and Instant Checkmate. That difference, especially in combination with the more expensive services, is why Intelius is not one of our top recommended background check services.

Here’s a rundown of what you get with each Intelius package:

People SearchPeople Search PlusReverse Phone Lookup24-Hour People Search PassBackground Check
Price$0.95*/$3.95$6.95*/$9.95$0.95*/$4.95$19.95$39.95*/$49.95
Full name & aliases
Age & birthday
Contact information (address, phone)
Relatives
Employment & work
Social networks
Email addresses
Statewide criminal check
Bankruptcies
Lawsuits
Marriages & divorces
Additional fee for current contact information$4.95$9.95$7.95
Price
Full name & aliases
Age & birthday
Contact information (address, phone)
Relatives
Employment & work
Social networks
Email addresses
Statewide criminal check
Bankruptcies
Lawsuits
Marriages & divorces
Additional fee for current contact information
People SearchPeople Search PlusReverse Phone Lookup24-Hour People Search PassBackground Check
$0.95*/$3.95$6.95*/$9.95$0.95*/$4.95$19.95$39.95*/$49.95
$4.95$9.95$7.95

*Price with Intelius Premier Plus membership

  • People Search and People Search Plus: A basic People Search gives you all the available basic information about a person, including full name and aliases, phone number, past and present addresses, age, date of birth, and relatives. People Search Plus adds social network information and email addresses. And while you can purchase other services without a membership, when you run a People Search, Intelius automatically signs you up for a Premier Plus membership.
  • 24-hour People Search Pass: This pass gives you an unlimited number of people searches for 24 hours. The report gives you only the basic People Search information and charges an additional fee of $9.95 to find out which phone numbers and addresses are current.
  • Reverse phone lookup: You can enter a phone number to find out who owns it and to see that person’s basic contact information. Again, there is an additional fee of $4.95 to find out if a phone number is current.
  • Background check: A background check includes the contact information of a People Search and adds a state criminal records check, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, lawsuits, and marriage/divorce records when available. Without a membership, a background check costs a whopping $49.95. Again, if you want to know which phone numbers and addresses are current, you have to pay another $7.95. To add a federal and nationwide criminal check, it’s an additional $19.95.
  • Criminal records check: You can order a criminal record check separately from a background check on a statewide ($14.95/$19.95) or nationwide ($29.95/$39.95) level. Criminal checks locate criminal records such as felonies, misdemeanors, DUIs, etc., and may include offense dates, court names, case numbers, outcomes, and more.

Mobile access: Better prices

Intelius ReviewA great feature of Intelius is that it has an app (for iOS and Android) that adds a few features to the Intelius services. One of those features is caller ID, which is essentially the reverse phone lookup feature but easier to access from the call log on your phone. You can also use the People Search, regular Reverse Phone Lookup, and background check features from the mobile app once you create an account.

The app is free to download and gives you a two-day trial with unlimited access to the People Search and Reverse Phone Lookup features. After the first two days, basic search features are free but all other searches and background checks are not.

You can also sign up for a $9.99-per-month mobile-only membership, or a $19.99-per-month membership with mobile and web access. Prices are generally lower from the app—one background check costs just $19.99 and three background checks cost $49.99 (which is essentially the cost of one background check through the Intelius website).

Our experience: Good but not great

While our experiences with Intelius and its services were generally positive, Intelius didn’t have any standout features or impressive experiences. The Intelius website doesn’t specify how much things cost until you are checking out, and then there are all kinds of extra services you can add on. We were particularly disappointed to see that you have to pay extra money to find out which phone numbers and addresses are current; that seems like a basic feature that should be included.

The mobile app is straightforward with the basic services readily available from the home screen. We were consistently underwhelmed by the available information, however, and noticed that quite a bit of it was outdated or incorrect.

User reviews: Disappointing

There aren’t a whole lot of positive customer reviews for Intelius services. Many users complain about the lack of information from the Intelius reports and the lack of transparency about the cost of using and canceling the services. The few positive reviews we found mostly focus on users’ success in locating people.

Positive reviews

“I used Intelius to find someone I was looking for! I tried one other service but they didn’t have current information on that person. Intelius helped me find the person I was looking for so 5 stars.”—Paul, Trustpilot, 4/8/2016

“We have found many people through Intelius over the years. They mention the person’s age most of the time, which really narrows the search. The information is always accurate. One time the information could not be located after I had paid, and Intelius refunded the charge instantly without any problem. We will continue using them.”—Carrie, Consumer Affairs, 3/20/2016

Negative reviews

“What a rip off! I was searching for by person, by phone number and never found the right person after paying $39.95. Then I upgraded to premier membership for $29.95 and got nothing. What a rip off! Don’t know how Better Business Bureau can give this company a ‘A’ rating. Shameful! Look at all the negative complaints on this company.”—Dale H., Better Business Bureau, 12/3/2017

“This website is a joke. They provide very little information. The phone app does not give any info for any incoming calls. Don’t waste your money. Do not sign up, not even for a trial. They make it nearly impossible to cancel. Even when on the site your membership is listed as cancelled they will still charge you. Completely disgusted by this site.”—Aaron G., Better Business Bureau, 10/20/2017

Our recommendation: There are better options

If you are going to pay for an ongoing service, we think you should get as much from it as possible. Intelius doesn’t provide as much information as other background check services do, yet it consistently costs as much as or more than other services. The lack of pricing transparency and the cancellation policy are concerning, and the vast majority of customer reviews say that better background check services are out there—and we agree.

If you want a comparable background check service with more up-to-date information, we recommend Truthfinder.

Have you used Intelius or another background check service? What was your experience?

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