Best Background Check in 2023: 3 Services for a Comprehensive People Search
If you’re seeking to verify someone’s identity and history, you may want to use one of the best background check sites to do so. Using an online background check service is more reliable and thorough than doing your own digging, and it’s generally more affordable than hiring a private investigator. An online background check allows you to perform employment verification, assess criminal records, look up education information, and more.
These days, there are a lot of background check sites to choose from, but some are far more thorough and accurate than others. Since you’re likely going to make decisions based on the information turned up by these background check reports, you definitely want to use the best service available to you. To help you make a wise choice, we reviewed the most popular online background check services, and found three of the best background check services out there.
Best Background Check Services – Quick Summary
Overall Best Background Check Service — Truthfinder
Best for Criminal Background Checks — Instant Checkmate
Best for Personal Use — Spokeo
These are three of the best background check sites because they are easy to use and pull information from dependable, up-to-date sources. Any of these background check sites would be a smart choice if you want to conduct comprehensive background checks on a new acquaintance, a friend, or even a family member.
There are, however, some differences between these services in terms of the information they turn up and how they structure their fees. So, one may be a somewhat better fit for your situation than another. That’s why we chose to feature three background check sites — we wanted to make sure we included a service to suit every type of potential customer.
Top 3 Best Background Check Services for 2023
1. Best Overall — Truthfinder
What we love:
In our opinion, Truthfinder is the overall best background check service because of the company’s long track record of success. This background check site also turns up a very thorough summary of information based on public record searches.
We were impressed to learn that Truthfinder conducts a deeper and more thorough search than Google. They even search the dark web for information that is not indexed by popular search engines.
Truthfinder recommends using their services to look up estranged family members, find out more about potential dates and friends you’ve met online, and to learn more about your neighbors. They also suggest conducting a background check on yourself in order to help manage your own online reputation.
Information turned up by Truthfinder may include birth and death records, criminal records reports, traffic violations, past and present social media profiles, and current contact information. The service can also show you a list of possible relatives to the person you’re searching for.
Truthfinder operates as a monthly subscription service, and they offer three different membership options:
Reverse phone lookup membership: Provides unlimited searches of phone reports. The reports generated may also show information including social media profiles, location history, employment history, educational history, and photos.
People search: Allows unlimited searches of person and location reports, including criminal records
Reverse email search: and gives access to unlimited person reports and email reports which may include educational, employment, and location history.
Truthfinder also offers some add-on services for existing members, like a dark web monitoring service. Or, you can add a PDF and report monitoring service which allows you to download reports for later, offline reference.
Truthfinder was founded in 2015. The company’s search tools scan county, state, and federal records along with other information and social media data in order to turn up the most detailed report possible. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they use 256-bit encryption to keep your data secure.
Truthfinder has a mobile app to make background searches even more accessible. They also make it easy for customers to cancel their memberships at any time — you can do so on their website or over the phone.
All in all, customers are reportedly very satisfied with their Truthfinder memberships and feel that they get a lot of helpful information for the cost of a monthly membership.
We saw lots of glowing reviews from customers who use this background check service to learn more about potential dates before meeting in person. Being able to review their date’s criminal records and employment verification helps users feel safer and more confident when meeting someone new.
Truthfinder is also popular among those who are searching for estranged family members. Several reviewers mention having used the service to find a loved one’s current contact details, which helped them get back in touch after many years.
The dark web monitoring add-on service receives especially positive reviews. Some customers use this tool to monitor the information shared about them on the dark web. Being able to monitor their own online reputation in this manner gives them a greater sense of security and safety.
- Multiple monthly membership options
- Unlimited searches
- PDF downloads of reports available
Website can be cumbersome to navigate
Learn more about Truthfinder today
2. Best for Criminal Background Checks — Instant Checkmate
What we love:
Instant Checkmate is certainly one of the best background check sites for criminal history records. The company has specifically built their search tools to scour traffic and criminal records from every state in the U.S.
Their reports turn up arrests, misdemeanor charges, felony charges and convictions, and more. You’ll not only see the crime that was allegedly committed, but also where that person was charged with the crime. An Instant Checkmate criminal background check will also tell you where they lived at the time they were arrested, charged, and/or convicted.
Instant Checkmate yields detailed reports that are very organized and easy to read. In addition to searching criminal records, this background check site also offers searches for demographic data, property records, and census data. You can discover a person’s current — and previous — address and phone number, their sex offender status, and more.
Instant Checkmate recommends using their service to learn more about your new neighbors, to search for sex offenders living in your area, or to track down estranged family members. They also recommend their service for parents who want to learn more about the parents of their children’s friends, or want to track down old classmates.
Note that since Instant Checkmate is not a Consumer Reporting Agency, you cannot use their services for any purpose governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act – such as running a background check on a potential tenant or employee.
In addition to their standard Person Reports, Instant Checkmate also offers phone records searches and dark web monitoring. If you ever decide to cancel your service, Instant Checkmate makes it simple — you can cancel at any time through their website.
About Instant Checkmate:
Instant Checkmate has built their search technology with customers’ needs in mind. They are always honing their search criteria and adding new information to their databases. The company also has one of the best customer services teams in the industry. If you are unsure of how to use any of their search tools, you can call their Member Care team, and they’ll walk you through it.
Instant Checkmate also believes in giving back to the community. They are a proud sponsor of Together We Bake, an organization that provides training and employment services for women in need.
Instant Checkmate is quite popular with those seeking to verify the criminal records of friends, neighbors, family members, and acquaintances. Several reviewers mention using this background check site to check criminal records for people who have recently moved into their community. Some check the criminal records of fellow parents before allowing their children to visit their homes.
Reviewers are generally impressed by how thorough the reports from Instant Checkmate are. Several mention being shocked to learn about arrests and convictions that occurred decades in the past. A few customers also mention using these reports to find contact details for former classmates. They use this information to reconnect and rekindle old friendships.
- Searches criminal records in every U.S. state
- Includes a search of sex offender registries
- Easy to cancel
- Add-on Dark Web search services available
Must pay additional monthly subscription fee for reverse phone lookup
Learn more about Instant Checkmate today
3. Best for Personal Use — Spokeo
What we love:
Are you interested in finding out more about a potential date, a new friend, or someone who moved in down the street? We recommend trying Spokeo, a company we believe is the best background check site for personal use. We were impressed to learn that Spokeo not only searches public records like property records, social networks, and court records, but also business records.
Reports generated by Spokeo include almost everything you could want to know about a potential date or new friend. They list location history, wealth data, and even family members and associates.
The reports will also direct you to the person’s social media accounts – even those that are hard to find with a typical Google search. Spokeo will show you a person’s criminal and arrest records, too, although they do charge an extra fee for this information.
Another great thing about Spokeo is the fact that their reports are updated as new information becomes available. For instance, if someone you previously searched opens a new social media account, it will be added to your updated report.
Spokeo recommends using their service to stop unwanted calls and texts. You can use a reverse phone lookup to get in touch with them directly. They also recommend using their search to learn more about online sellers before agreeing to purchase from them.
Spokeo first opened in 2006 as a social network aggregator, and in 2008, they expanded as a social search engine. After several additional expansions, the company now organizes more than 12 billion records and answers 500,000 searches per day.
Spokeo has been featured in Forbes, the New York Times, and on CNBC and ABC. They are continually taking customer feedback into account in order to improve their searches and reporting. They take pride in skillfully adapting to an ever-changing marketplace.
Customers say that Spokeo’s background check services help them feel safe in a world where it has become harder to trust people. Lots of customers use Spokeo to learn more about people they’ve met through school or clubs.
They feel more confident building a relationship once they know more about the person’s employment history and credit history. Several reviewers mention learning that an acquaintance was lying about their wealth or field of employment after using Spokeo.
Reviewers are often impressed by how comprehensive Spokeo’s reports are. They like that they can see if a person has opened a business, and what real estate transactions they may have conducted through that business.
- Finds “hidden” social media accounts
- Sources information from billions of records
- Wealth data is included in reports
Must pay an additional fee to search criminal records
How We Found The Best Background Check Services
As the demand for background check services has risen, many new background check sites have opened up. However, they do not all offer the same level of service or the same level of protection for your personal information.
Finding the best background check sites can take a lot of reading and research – but we hope to make it easier for you. We weeded through a bunch of other background check sites before settling on our three favorites. Here are some things we looked for in the best background check sites:
Good brand reputation
In our search for the best background check site, we created a long list of all of the generally reputable companies offering this service. Then, we visited each background check site to learn more about them.
We eliminated any company from the list that did not have the following characteristics or services:
- Encryption technology to protect users’ personal information
- Ability to cancel your subscription at any point
- Data obtained from multiple sources, including public records
- Ability to conduct a criminal background check
Positive customer reviews
Background check sites that did meet these requirements continued on to the next round of our search. In this round, we read lots of reviews to get a sense of what former and current customers think of each of these background checks.
We looked for reviews that mentioned what kind of information the user was seeking, whether they were able to obtain that information through the background check service, and how having that information benefited them.
We were especially impressed when we saw reviews from people who used a background check site to find an old friend or relative. We also liked to see customers mention learning about criminal history. Customers often use such information to keep themselves and their family members safe. If a background check service was able to provide that level of safety, we moved it up our list of best background check service providers.
Finally, we put each of the top background checks. Our testers signed up for each website and conducted a few of their own searches. They noted which sites were the easiest to use, and which background checks turned up the most detailed information. These notes were the final information we needed to select the three best background check sites featured above.
Things to Consider When Looking For Background Checks
While we think most people would be satisfied using any of the three background checks listed here, we still encourage you to do your own research before picking a service. Here are the key factors we advise you to consider when comparing and contrasting background checks:
Types of information provided
The best background check service providers tell you exactly what kinds of information they are — and are not — able to obtain. Review this list, and make sure it lines up with your needs. For example, if you are planning to do background checks on neighbors, you will probably want a service that includes criminal history. If you’re running employment background checks, you’ll likely want to choose one that actually delivers information about employment history.
Common types of information delivered by the best background check services include:
- Death certificates
- Past arrests and convictions
- Former addresses
- Phone number lookups
- Credit history
- Employment history
- Educational history
- Marriages and divorces
- Family members and their addresses
- Properties owned
- Businesses owned
Types of records searched
It’s also important to consider where these background checks are obtaining their information. The best background check services comb a wide variety of sources. These may include social media accounts, public advertisements, and a variety of public records including:
- Tax records
- Court records
- Death and birth records
- Real estate sales records
- Prison records
- Sex offender registries
- Bankruptcy records
- Weapons permits
Some information is protected under the Privacy Act and can therefore not be shared by certain organizations. However, there are a lot of exemptions under the Privacy Act, which means background checks often turn up more information than you’d assume.
Affordability and payment model
Make sure you are comfortable with the way the background check site structures their payments. Many companies operate background checks through a monthly subscription plan. That means you pay by the month and can conduct as many searches as you want within that month. If you do choose a company with this payment structure, make sure they make it simple to cancel your service when you no longer need it.
Some companies offer discounts for customers who pay for three or six months at a time. If you plan to conduct lots of background checks on an ongoing basis, it’s often worth looking for a deal like this.
If you’re just looking for one or two key pieces of information, you may not care whether you can download the reports from your background checks. On the other hand, if you plan to keep and reference the information turned up in a background check, you should be sure to use a company that allows customers to download and keep copies of their reports.
What Kinds of Background Checks Are There?
Most of the best services conduct multiple types of background checks all at once. Here are some of the most common types they run:
Criminal History Check
This is one of the most common and important types of background checks. A criminal history background check will reveal whether someone has been arrested, charged with a crime, or convicted of a crime.
Usually, these background checks will give you details such as mug shots, the date of the arrest, the judge who presided over the case, and whether a fine or jail time were issued.
Education and Employment Check
If you’re wondering whether someone truly attended school where they claim to have attended, or whether they are being honest about their employment history, you’ll want to run these types of background checks.
Note that the background check companies featured here cannot be used to determine a person’s eligibility for employment because they are not accredited by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, they can still be used to verify someone’s employment and educational history as needed for personal reasons.
Sex Offender Registry Check
If you just moved into a new place, you might be wondering whether or not you can trust your neighbors. Background checks that review sex offender registries can deliver this information.
Social Media Check
You can learn a lot about a person from their social media accounts. Some of the best background check companies do a deep social media search and will show you “hidden” profiles. You can then visit these profiles for yourself to look over photos and posts that the person has shared.
Business and Property Ownership Checks
Are you unsure of where a person really lives? Maybe a potential date told you they own a business, and you want to find out whether or not they were telling the truth. A background check usually includes a review of business records and property purchase records, so it will tell you what the person you’re searching for owns and is involved in.
What Are Background Check Services Used For?
Once you sign up for a background check service, you may be surprised by all of the different ways you can use it. Here are a few suggestions:
Learn About Neighbors
A background check service can be really helpful when you first move into a new neighborhood, or when new people move into yours.
If you run a background check on your neighbors, you’ll get a better sense of who you can truly trust around your kids and whether there are any sex offenders in your area. Learning little tidbits, such as where your neighbors work, can also make it easier to start conversations and connect with them.
Learn About Potential Dates or Friends
The world of online dating has made it hard to know who you can trust. Many online daters, after all, admit to lying or exaggerating when making their profiles. The information turned up by a background check can help you decide whether to go on a date with someone – or whether to keep dating someone you recently met.
If the background check shows, for example, that your date lied about owning property and has a secret alias on social media, that might be a red flag.
Check a Seller’s Reputation
Are you looking to buy a used item from an independent seller? Use a background check service to look them up and make sure they are someone you feel safe meeting. Information like a history of arrests may prompt you to reconsider your decision to buy from them.
Find Old Friends or Family Members
If you are trying to reconnect with an old friend, classmate, or estranged family member, conducting an online background check can be a good first step. The background check may give you information such as their physical address, email address, or phone number, which you can use to contact them and start a conversation.
Check on Your Own Reputation
Maybe you’re wondering what information is available about you and your history. Does a formerly expunged arrest show up on your records? Can someone find out where you live based on real estate sale records?
Conduct a background check on yourself, and you’ll see what information others can access. You can then start approaching various organizations and asking them to privatize your information, if desired.
Are Free Background Check Services Legit?
There are free background check services that are legit in the sense that the information they turn up is reliable and has been obtained legally.
However, the information delivered by a free background check is not usually that comprehensive or complete. You often learn a lot more about a person by paying for a more complete background check.
For example, a free background check may give you the person’s address or tell you that they were arrested at some point in the past. But if you want more information, such as what they were arrested for, you’ll generally need to pay for it.
This is because searching various sources for this information takes time and technology. The background check company has to pass the cost of that time and technology on to their customers.
Note that if you are on a tight budget and do not want to pay for a background check, there are a lot of public records that you can access on your own, free of charge. For example, you can search social media sites for profiles for free. You can comb through various tax records and court records for counties and towns where your person of interest has lived.
However, this approach tends to be time-consuming, and it’s not easy to know which records are worth checking. For this reason, the services of a background check company generally offer a good value if you can afford them. It’s worth paying to know that the information you’re being given is complete.
Is the information delivered by a background check company reliable?
If the background check site you use searches through official, public records, then yes, the information they deliver is reliable. At least, it is as reliable as the records that are searched.
Publicly available information, such as criminal records, is delivered to you in the same way it is presented on the official records — it’s the same information you would find if you were to search those records yourself.
It’s not unheard of for there to be errors in public records. For example, sometimes a date may be listed wrong or someone’s name will be misspelled. However, this is an error on the part of the organization keeping the records, and not on the part of the background check site.
What should you look for when conducting a background check on a potential date?
If you’re using a background check to determine whether or not you should go on a date with someone you met online, the first thing to review is their criminal history. Have they ever been arrested? Have they ever been convicted of a crime?
If the crimes the person has been charged with or convicted of concern you, this may be a reason not to date them after all.
You can also look over the person’s education and employment records to see whether they line up with what that person has told you about themselves. Someone who lies about their employment may also be lying about other things.
Finally, look over any social media profiles that the background check turns up. If there is information on those profiles that is different from what the person has given you, that could also be a red flag – or at least something to discuss with the person before your date.
What if you find wrong information about yourself in a background check?
If you run a background check on yourself and some of the information that comes up is not correct, check to see where that information came from. You should be able to see where the background check company obtained it – like from court records, tax records, or so forth.
Contact the organization responsible for those records, and ask for the information to be corrected. For example, if the date of your home purchase is listed incorrectly on your county’s real estate transaction records, contact your county and alert them to the discrepancy. Some of the best background check companies will do this for you if you make them aware of incorrect information in their reports.
Whether you want to learn more about a neighbor, locate an old classmate, or see what information about you is available on the web, the best background checks can really streamline the process. The companies mentioned here all scan multiple sources of data and public records to create reports that are helpful, complete, and comprehensive. We recommend signing up for one of them and running a few searches. Once you start conducting background checks, you’ll be amazed how much safer and more secure you feel around the people you choose to interact with.
Best Background Check Companies: A Summary
Overall Best Background Check Service — Truthfinder
Best for Criminal Background Checks — Instant Checkmate
Best for Personal Use — Spokeo