Instant Checkmate Review: Is It Legit or Just Hype?

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Jul 29, 2020

Instant Checkmate is an online public records search service that promises to let you search anyone in the United States and pull up detailed information on them.

It’s designed to help you reconnect with lost contacts and to identify any red flags in those around you.

The site claims to operate by aggregating public records such as arrest records, addresses, census data, and social media accounts. It then presents this information in comprehensive reports.

Instant Checkmate doesn’t offer true background reports. Rather, this site and all similar ones pull information from the public domain. What you’re paying for is the convenience of getting all this information in one place.

Should you sign up? I’ll go through the details of what you can expect, along with my assessment of whether this service is worth it.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Easy to browse and navigate the site
  • Information is often more accurate than similar sites
  • Detailed sexual offender reports
  • Report information sorted in clear categories for easy searching
Cons
  • All information is publicly available for free elsewhere
  • Confusing pricing strategies
  • Reports may be inaccurate
  • Some customers struggled to cancel their accounts
  • You can’t legally act on the information you learn

Details and Features

Instant Checkmate makes it simple to search anyone in the United States by name, location, phone number, or email address.

Here’s a summary of the information you’ll get, depending on your search:

  • Background Report: Search based on the person’s name, gender, and location to learn their date of birth, current contact information, location history, potential relatives, criminal record, DEA licenses, and more.

  • Reverse Phone Lookup: Seach any 10 digit phone number to learn information such as the owner’s full name, phone information, age, gender, job history, location history, and social media profiles.

  • Email Report: Search any email to learn information such as the owner’s full name, online aliases, location history, employment history, social media profiles, possible connections, and more.

As with all public records services, Instant Checkmate is meant to be used to look up publicly available information on people like your family members, new neighbors, friends you lost contact with, and more.

However, it’s strictly prohibited to use any of the information in ways that go against the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

  • Pre-employment background checks
  • Screen any household workers
  • Assign or terminate leases
  • Assess individuals for professional services
  • Determine qualifications for educational programs or grants
  • Make credit or insurance eligibility decisions

It’s also against the site’s terms of service to the information to stalk, blackmail, or otherwise harass the person in the report.

My Experience Using Instant Checkmate

I started using Instant Checkmate by searching myself by first and last name and current location. I was asked to confirm my age and relationship to my husband before getting a preview of my report.

This included my full name (including maiden name), age, possible relatives, and locations. Three out of six locations were correct for me, as were five out of the 14 listed “relatives.”

Once I confirmed this was me, Instant Checkmate began loading my full report, asking me questions along the way related to my potential criminal history, social media accounts, and more.

I also needed to confirm I wouldn’t use the report’s information in discriminatory ways.

After approximately ten minutes of loading time, I reached a screen where I could activate my account to unlock the report. At this stage, I was finally shown the pricing information. Two plans were offered:

  • One-month of unlimited reports: $34.78/month
  • Three months of unlimited reports: $83.47 ($27.82/month)

Here’s an insider tip—if you stay on the payment screen long enough, Instant Checkmate may offer you a five-day full access trial membership for $1. Unless you cancel before the end of the trial, you’ll then be enrolled at $34.78/month.

Upon signing up, I was immediately shown an offer to download my report as a PDF. The small font at the bottom of the screen indicates this would be a one-time $2.99 administration charge—sneaky! You can skip this step if not interested.

Looking at Instant Checkmate Reports

Finally, I was ready to see my report. It began with my full name, age, date of birth, and current Facebook profile picture—all accurate so far.

Next came my educational and professional background information, which was clearly pulled directly from my public LinkedIn profile.

The site displayed two phone numbers and emails associated with me, 50% of which were accurate. This accuracy level stayed consistent for my known addresses as well, as three out of five were accurate.

My criminal records section came up blank, as did the finances section, which covers bankruptcies, liens, judgments, evictions, and UCC filings.

The social section pulled up my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest profile, though not my Instagram, personal blog, or other places where I spend more time online. I also wasn’t linked to any businesses or licenses, although my home was a listed asset.

Overall, this report seemed comprehensive at first glance because of all the sections it contained, but many were blank, inaccurate, or included only obscure information that wasn’t necessarily valuable.

Someone searching me could have discovered where I lived and would have a 50% chance of contacting me through the correct email or phone number, but they would have learned little else about me that couldn’t be found on my Facebook or LinkedIn account.

And in many cases—as with my probable relatives—the information was completely inaccurate.

This level of accuracy seems consistent for most accounts, as I found similar results when I searched my spouse, friends, and family members.

Instant Checkmate often had correct information listed, but it was sandwiched with details that were out of date or totally wrong.

In a few cases, the report completely omitted businesses owned by my friends and relatives that had come up on other background check services I’ve used.

It was also hit or miss on reporting traffic violations.

Pricing and How to Cancel Your Membership

Here’s a detailed look at Instant Checkmate’s different pricing options and what’s included with them:

5-Day Trial Monthly Membership Three-Month Membership Reverse Phone Search Membership Reverse Email Search Membership
Cost $1 $34.78 per month $27.82 per month ($83.47 total) $4.99 per month $7.99 per month
Basic Background Check Yes Yes Yes No No
Location Search Yes Yes Yes No No
Reverse Phone Lookup No No No Yes No
Email Search No No No No Yes

All Instant Checkmate purchases enroll you in a membership (recurring subscription).

You can cancel your membership at any time from your Membership Settings page or by contacting the company directly at (800) 222-8985.

There is also an option to purchase a Premium Background Report for $19.99 per person.

This gives you supplemental data beyond the standard report that may include information on the person’s civil judgments, corporate affiliations, voter registration, hunting/fishing permits, tax liens, foreclosures, and more.

These purchases are non-refundable.

Analysis of Customer Reviews

More than 500 Instant Checkmate users have left reviews on our website, that average out to 3.4-stars. Here are the main takeaways:

Common Compliments:

  • Site is simple to use
  • Easy to track down pertinent information
  • Works well for reconnecting with people you lost touch with
  • More detailed information than competitors

Common Complaints:

  • Occasionally inaccurate information, including false criminal records
  • Some people received charges after canceling their membership, had to cancel their credit cards
  • Some people struggled to pull their personal information off the site

Popular Alternatives to Instant Checkmate

There are several other popular public information services available, including Truthfinder, SpyFly, and BeenVerified. Here’s how they compare:

Instant Checkmate Truthfinder SpyFly BeenVerified
Monthly Subscription Cost $34.78 $27.78 $29.97 $26.89
Trial Cost $1 for five days $1 for five days $2 for seven days NA
HighYa Review Average 3.4-stars, 62% recommend 3.8-stars, 73% recommend 2.0-stars, 31% recommend 1.3-stars, 5% recommend
Sex Offender Information Detailed reports include photos and current location Tells you if offenders are nearby Possible to search for offenders by address or zip code Possible to search for offenders by address or zip code

Of these four sites, Truthfinder and Instant Checkmate have the best online reviews on HighYa. Many customers found both of these sites to be easy to navigate, though they often found the information to be incorrect.

When I did a personal search on Instant Checkmate and TruthFinder, I found Instant Checkmate shared more comprehensive information about my career and educational background, and that the site had the most up-to-date contact information for me.

It also listed fewer incorrect addresses and social media profiles (though there were still plenty!).

SpyFly and BeenVerified earned a less positive response from HighYa reviews. Some common complaints included that the information within the reports was extremely inaccurate and outdated and that the monthly subscription costs were too expensive to be worthwhile.

Others wrote that they were continuously billed for these services even after they had canceled their subscription.

A public records search company can’t take the place of a traditional background check, and even the best services only earn mediocre reviews from users.

However, Instant Checkmate and Truthfinder both have higher reviews and share more detailed information in the reports.

Based on my personal experience of using these platforms, I believe that Instant Checkmate has the edge when it comes to accuracy.

The Bottom Line

As far as public records search services go, Instant Checkmate seems to stand out from the competition.

It’s easy to sign up for the service and navigate the site, and the $1 five-day free trial offer will likely give you enough time to learn what you need to know.

My personal experience and an analysis of customer reviews also show that this service seems to have a slight edge over the others regarding accuracy and relevancy.

However, Instant Checkmate (and all similar services) shouldn’t be confused for a traditional background check.

The information this site provides is all publicly available, and there’s no guarantee that it is accurate. It’s also illegal to act on these results as if they were from a verified background check service.

Instant Checkmate makes sense for anyone who wants to reconnect with lost friends or family members, verify information about online dates, learn more about a neighborhood before moving in, or see whether there are sex offenders nearby.

The online phone and email lookup can also be used as a way to avoid scams.

However, the service isn’t suited for anyone who wants to perform employment or tenant screening or who wants to make other decisions about eligibility for scholarships, credit, or insurance policies.

Here’s my advice. Start your background search process on Google.

Searching someone’s full name, location, and emails or phone numbers can pull up a lot of public domain information similar to what you’d get in a standard Instant Checkmate report.

If you want to expand your search after that, then it’s time to consider signing up for a membership.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Instant Checkmate Legit?

Yes. Public records search services, like Instant Checkmate, only display information that is in the public domain. The company makes no guarantee about the accuracy of the information it displays.

Is Instant Checkmate free?

No. Monthly subscriptions start at $27.82, though a $1 five-day free trial is available.

Is Instant Checkmate a Recurring Subscription?

Yes. The subscription can be canceled at any time.

How Do You Cancel Your Subscription?

Cancel your membership online through the Membership Settings page or by calling the company at (800) 222-8985.

Can You Remove Your Personal Information from Instant Checkmate?

Yes. Instant Checkmate allows all subscribers to remove specific information or their full profile from the database.

You can start by searching for your name and finding your profile. Once you do, you can select the report you want to be removed. You will then receive an email asking you to confirm this decision. If you approve it, Instant Checkmate will delete your profile within 48 hours.

Note that this doesn’t remove your information from the databases that Instant Checkmate pulled it from. You also might need to make multiple requests to customer service before all your personal information is removed.

Does Instant Checkmate Notify the Person You Are Searching For?

No, all searches are anonymous and those being searched are not aware that the process is taking place.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of Instant Checkmate:
  • 536 Customer Reviews
  • 62% Recommend This Service
3.4 out of 5
5 star: 50% 4 star: 10% 3 star: 4% 2 star: 3% 1 star: 31%

 Our Promise to You

To safeguard you and ensure helpfulness and relevance, our compliance team manually assess every customer review before it goes live.

We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

Sort reviews by:

  • This company is actively collecting reviews from its customers. All reviews submitted are subject to moderation and approval to ensure they meet our Review Guidelines.
  • Background search for a person with multiple arrests

    • By Steve ,
    • Paducah, KY,
    • Feb 21, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    This is a major rip off, with poor records. I have a ex wife with multiple DUI arrests, with children in the car (which are child endangerment charges), and drug charges that go back 10 years, and guess what? None of these records were found by Instant Checkmate. I'm so happy they charged me almost $30, for nothing. Another thing that proves to me that it's a scam, is that the husband's name does not even come up as related. I will be filling a complaint.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Great product

    Overall Experience:

    I used Instant Checkmate to gather addresses for an extended family reunion that we are hosting in June. It was incredibly helpful to have everything in one place, and I was amazed at the results and how much information was available. I plan to continue my membership because I think it will be very useful when I start to send out Christmas cards and also throughout the year when I need to send out birthday presents. The uses are endless!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • works as promised

    • By Alex Howard,
    • San Diego, CA,
    • May 30, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Someone shady was calling my sister and leaving threatening messages. We suspected it was a guy she had a restraining order against. I was able to find out exactly who it was by using Instant Checkmate and the problem is now being dealt with appropriately.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Jun 2, 2017

      Company Response from Instant Checkmate

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for sharing your story. We are so happy to hear that Instant Checkmate was able to help you resolve this scary issue. If you ever have a question or need help with our website, our US-based member care team is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can reach us at 1-800-222-8985.


  • I love Checkmate

    Overall Experience:

    I think this is a great tool to use to check out people. And depending on your job, this tool can be used all the time. Good job. It's nice to be able to see other people's lies and deceit because in the world today you never know who you are dealing with, and that's very scary and intimidating to know there are people out there that you have no idea who they are on the inside. People can deceive you so much these days, and it's nice to know there is a great tool to do background checks on people.

    I love this site and would recommend it to everyone. But I wish it wasn't so expensive per person. It would be nice if it was a little bit cheaper, especially for the information you get because sometimes you don't always get the information that you need.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • I am a genealogist

    Overall Experience:

    This has helped me so much in finding links to missing ancestors when there is nowhere else to turn. For instance, you can find a location that helps you find them especially if they have a common name. If the first address does work, they also give you a history of the residences, which may prove even more helpful. Finding the married name of a female relative is very often also possible using this source.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • If you online date, search Instant Checkmate!

    • By Charm Thomas,
    • Riverside, CA ,
    • Jun 2, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I truly like this site; it helps anyone to pull up a background with just a phone number. Good for people that online date, before you go on that date, just search the number! Quick and easy! I will share this site with people that want background checks on anyone.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    • Jun 2, 2017

      Company Response from Instant Checkmate

      Hi Charm,

      Thank you for the positive review and high rating! We couldn't agree with you more. If you ever have any questions or need help with our website, our US-based member care team is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can reach us at 1-800-222-8985.

      Sincerely,

      Member Services


  • A very helpful resource!

    Overall Experience:

    My name is Robert Raskin, and as a successful business owner in Las Vegas, finding the right people to add to my team is crucial. Instant Checkmate has been one of the most reliable methods of performing background checks that I have used. My only complaint about this service is that I didn't know about it sooner, because it could have spared me a few headaches!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Detailed Specific

    • By Austin Stacy,
    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Jun 4, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Instant Checkmate allows you to know an individual's public records without the hassle of a court house and major charges that correspond with that. It gives a detailed description of every crime committed including speeding tickets. Excellent source.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • I love using Instant Ckeckmate

    • By Tony Schmidt,
    • Tupelo, MS,
    • Jun 4, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I own a Repo company in Tupelo Mississippi. My Repo agents use Instant Checkmate to help find the vehicles. It is very useful, it gives current addresses and previous addresses. We have found several vehicles by using relatives addresses provided by Instant Checkmate. We have used other search sites and I believe that Instant Checkmate is the best.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Instant Checkmate

    Overall Experience:

    I've been using this service for a year and have been very pleased. I have found old friends and deceased friends and relatives. I check it every week and find it very interesting. Several times I've come back and discovered interesting things about people. Once I was hired to find a lost son. There was no contact for 20 years, and it only took a few minutes to find him.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Very useful tool

    • By Alan Dickson,
    • St Catharines, Ontario, Canada,
    • Jun 6, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Instant Checkmate is a great business tool. In today's business world I find there are too many people out there trying to con you, scam you and generally steal from you. Instant Checkmate helps me weed them out. I use it to help me identify my potential customers and find out basic information; where they are, address, etc.

    Instant Checkmate literally "instantly" get this information to you, helping me decide whether to pursue the inquiry or drop it.

    The website is clean and easy to navigate, allowing you the opportunity for more in-depth analysis of the name or phone number, I have not needed to use this yet.

    Instant Checkmate seems to take privacy and security seriously, as I do, and this gives me confidence in using the product.

    Another attribute is that it is not limited to one area, state or city; Instant Checkmate covers the entire United States (maybe you could get more for Canada?).

    All in all, I would not hesitate to recommend this service to other businesses, in fact, I have on several occasions! Gathering accurate information on the people you want to do business with has become very important to keep you one step ahead of the cons and scams.

    The one time I did not use the background information we get taken for $2,000.00! So we use it all the time now. Thank you.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


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