Use our expert insights and customer reviews to research and compare popular background search services to understand which one is right for you.
Getting Started with Background Check Services
Let’s say you’re about to meet up with an online date in the real world for the first time, but are starting to feel concerned about whether there’s anything sinister hidden in their past.
Or maybe you’re tired of getting mystery phone calls from the same numbers and want to finally learn who’s on the other end of the line.
And just possibly, there are a few old friends in your past that you’ve lost touch with that you’d love to reach out to again.
If you fit these situations, then you’ve likely considered signing up for a people search website. These aggregate sites compile data from public records across the web to give you a comprehensive assessment of the person in question.
While these sites vary in the specifics, you can expect to gain access to the following kinds of information:
Full name and contact information (phone numbers and email addresses)
Past and present home addresses
Relatives and close acquaintances
Education and work history
Sex offender status
Social media profiles
Some of these sections will have more information than others, depending on how much information is publicly available for the individual in question.
Note that people search sites can NOT be used as a background check. Per the regulations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can’t use the information you find out in potentially discriminatory ways. This means that employment, insurance, renting, and similar decisions are strictly off-limits.
The people search industry suffers from the problem of overselling and underdelivering. You’re likely to get access to less information than you expect on each report, and everything you see can be found online for free in other places.
Likewise, there’s usually no way to guarantee the information you see is accurate.
The value of the people search sites is convenience. You’re paying for easy access to the information all in one place, rather than exclusivity or accuracy.
So long as you keep your expectations realistic, they can offer a lot of value for learning more about the people that intrigue you.
Which Service Should You Use? Our Top Picks
Best Overall: TruthFinder and Instant Checkmate
Both of these sites offer comprehensive data reports with a higher level of accuracy than is often found in the industry. Each also offers a five-day trial offer for $1 that lets you explore without a subscription commitment.
Best for Most Accurate Information: Instant Checkmate
This site tends to have the most comprehensive reports per search, and personal experience shows that the information tends to be slightly more accurate than the competition.
Best for Sex Offender Checks: Any
Each of the sites we looked at offered the option to see comprehensive lists of sexual offenders based on different area codes. If this is your primary motivation for using a people search website, the one you choose is unimportant.
Best for Bargain Hunters: TruthFinder
Not only can you try out this service for $1 for five days, but this plan offers one of the lowest prices per month at a starting price of $27.28.
Best to Avoid “Scare Tactics”: PeopleLooker
If you want a simple signup process and prefer to avoid any promises of learning “shocking, sinister details” in your background checks, then PeopleLooker delivers.
Tips on Getting the Most from a Background Check Service
Before you decide whether you should enroll in a people search service, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:
How do I plan to use this information? People search sites can be limiting in their functionality. Do you want the information to decide whether you should hire someone or let them rent your apartment? Then you will need something like an employment background check service.
Do I want to monitor my own information? One benefit of many people search sites is that you can use them to track your personal publicly available information. As a subscriber, you can request your data be taken down (though this doesn’t remove it from the places where the company first found it).
How many reports do I want? Though most people search sites cost between $20–$30 per month of membership, a few, like Truthfinder, Instant Checkmate, and Spyfly offer trial discounts where you can gain three to five days of unlimited access for a few dollars. If you only have a few people to check up on, this could be the way to go.
Reviews of Popular Background Check Services
Now for the hard questions—how can you choose which site to subscribe to? In the following reviews, we’ve analyzed the claims of each service and assessed their value statements.
We put them through an unbiased testing process to see whether they deliver on their promises, and where they fall short.
You can also read user reviews to learn what the customer response is to each of these companies.
BeenVerified acts as a people search service to let you get similar information to a background check for a subscription rate. However, this company has limitations, primarily regarding the accuracy...
Kids Live Safe is an aggregator that provides information on sex offenders in your area, in addition to email alerts and other features. The service is good but there are free ways to obtain the same...