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Best Background Check Services: Free & Paid Options Available

You may want a background check for a variety of reasons – to search for long-lost family members or friends, as a part of due diligence before a relationship gets serious, to vet a possible caregiver for your children, etc.

In the end, it all boils down to knowing the truth about someone and mitigating risk. The information is out there and it’s just a matter of finding it.

Background checks will typically include some revealing information – such as criminal records, court records, education and employment history, previous addresses, social media accounts, and more.

The best background check services will make it easy to conduct a thorough background check. These companies search and scan through public records to find further information on a specific individual.

We’ve reviewed 3 of the top background check services to determine the best options available to you.

The best background check services

Each of these background check companies has a good reputation, delivers accurate reports, and is FCRA-compliant.

Learn more about them below:


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Truthfinder offers a range of different screening services – including background checks, reverse phone lookups, as well as self-monitoring tools for the dark web.

Its extensive search capabilities allow you to uncover loads of information, and ultimately make a well-informed decision about an individual’s identity.

Truthfinder provides screening services that are considered some of the best in the industry, covering both public and private online databases. Their ability to access private records is unique and impressive. Many of the other background check services do not have this feature widely available.

Truthfinder Background Checks Include:

  • First, middle, and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Known aliases
  • Possible pictures and videos online
  • Social media profiles
  • Jobs and education history
  • Possible relatives and associates
  • Personal websites and blogs
  • Contact information
  • Location history
  • Federal criminal record
  • Civil court records
  • Drug screening results
  • Sex offender information
  • Owned properties and/or bankruptcies

Other Features

Criminal search

Truthfinder is known for its advanced criminal search capabilities.

All you need is the person’s full name and this background check service will examine all court records, including at the county, state, and federal levels.

Truthfinder will also scan social media data, as well as dark web and private databases for valuable information.

If anything is discovered, it will be included in your background check report.

Dark web scan

This service also offers comprehensive self-monitoring tools. They will perform a specialized scan to see if any of your information is being sold on the dark web.

This helps to ensure that you do not become a victim of online identity theft.

Once your data, like your credit information or Social Security number, is compromised by cybercriminals it could lead to significant financial loss.

These dark web services are complimentary with any monthly background check membership.


The Truthfinder background check services don’t come cheap.

A monthly subscription costs around $27.78 per month, but you’ll be able to conduct an unlimited number of background checks per month. You can also choose to pay for two months in advance, which costs around $46 for the full two months or $23/month.

There is no option to pay for a single background check report.

Truthfinder typically does not offer a free trial period, although the service will occasionally run promotions that include a 5-day trial for $1. If you’re skeptical about the service, wait until they have one of these promos happening.


  • Thorough background screening with broad criminal search features
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Fast background check results
  • Several search parameters and filtering options
  • Transparent in regards to what their background checks can be used for


  • Monthly subscriptions are expensive
  • No free trial period
  • No option to get a one-off background check
  • Multiple pop-up advertisements on the site


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If you’re looking for background check results quickly, use Intelius. Their background screening reports are completed at lightning speed.

You don’t need a Social Security number to locate the person you’re looking for and access a report. But you will need the person’s full name, city, and state.

You can further narrow the results and get a more accurate background check by answering a few questions from Intelius. They will ask you things like – “Is this person over 30?” and “Has this person ever lived in San Diego, California?”

Plus, your report will be made available to you almost immediately.

While Intelius will give you further insight into someone’s criminal record, it cannot be used for employment, insurance, tenancy, or credit purposes. It’s best to use it as a resource for your own due diligence – for example, if you want to locate a long-lost relative or check out an upcoming date.

Intelius Background Checks Include:

  • Date of birth
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Education and employment history
  • Address history
  • Possible relatives
  • State and local criminal records
  • Arrest records
  • Social media profiles

Other Features

Intelius offers its customers several unique services and features, including reverse phone lookups and reverse email lookups, in addition to their extensive background screening capabilities.

Access tons of public records

All data on the people search engine is constantly being updated to provide customers with accurate information. The site pulls from over 20 billion available public records, enabling access and insight from all areas of the internet.


Intelius offers a subscription plan, starting at $24 per month. This will afford you unlimited searches and background checks.

While there is no option to get a single background check without a subscription, you can enroll in a trial period that costs around $1.99.

If you wish to discontinue your account after the trial, you can cancel online or by calling their customer support team.


  • Instant background checks
  • Low-cost trial period
  • Affordable monthly subscription


  • Some results are outdated
  • Automatic subscription enrollment after the trial period
  • Not FCRA-compliant

Instant CheckMate

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Instant CheckMate is another one of the best background check companies on the market today. The site enables you to get background checks based on the individual’s name, city, and state.

You may have to answer a series of questions before the search results are finalized and the right person is found.

This service uses a people search finder that aggregates data from various records to deliver background checks that are extremely detailed and accurate.

It’s simple to use and can find an impressive amount of information on the person in the question – like criminal records, drug screening results, and contact details.

Although their background checks are not completed instantaneously, as the name indicates, you will get the results in a matter of minutes.

Instant CheckMate Background Checks Include:

  • Contact information
  • Location history
  • Date of birth
  • Social media accounts
  • Financial and professional data
  • Residential public record items
  • Possible criminal records

Other Features

Dedicated Customer Privacy

Instant CheckMate puts the privacy of its customers first, ensuring safety, security, and complete anonymity.

The site will never alert the person you searched that you got a background report and possibly uncovered their details.

All searches are made secure with a 128-bit encrypted connection and Norton-approved verification.

Unlimited Searches

With a paid monthly subscription, you can use the site’s background screening services as much as you want. This means unlimited background checks, people searches, reverse phone lookups, etc.

Overall, you can learn more about your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, dates, roommates, and anyone else’s background you want to check into.

Specialized sources and databases

Instant CheckMate provides results you can trust. The site scours data from the internet and particular sources to give you valuable and accurate information.

Good reviews

With over 70,000 5-star customer reviews and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Instant CheMate is one of the most trusted background check companies.


Unfortunately, Instant CheckMate is one of the more expensive options. For $34 per month, you will gain access to a wide range of data sources and an unlimited number of reports.

You will also be given the option to sign up for three months in advance for $27.82 per month. However, you will need to pay for those monthly fees upfront.

There is no option to buy a single report for one individual.


  • Accurate data that is delivered promptly
  • Impressive search tools and records
  • Unlimited reports with a membership


  • Flashing warnings that criminal behavior was found when it wasn’t
  • No credit checks are available
  • No option for a single report
  • Expensive monthly membership
  • Confusing user interface

Background Check FAQs

What is a background check?

The objective of a background check is to verify that a person is who they claim to be. Screening services that perform them provide an opportunity for someone to check an individual’s criminal history, education and employment background, and other past activities that serve as a form of verification.

What shows up on a background check?

The best background check services will search through all public records and online databases made available to them. Anything found on the searched person will show up on a background report. This can include any criminal records, sex offender status, private social media accounts. etc.

Can I find the information on my own?

You may be wondering whether you can find some of this information yourself.

The short answer is yes. These sites are using resources and databases that are publicly available to everyone on the internet (although many have access to some private records as well).

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It can get overwhelming to do it on your own.

You won’t be able to find everything you’re looking for with a single Google search. You will have to scour over hundreds of websites and documents until you find the correct person.

It’s a lengthy, comprehensive process that will take many hours and multiple searches to complete. And you still might miss a piece of valuable information that could change everything.

Websites like Trithfinder, Intelius, and Instant CheckMate make the process much easier. They can compile a report in a couple of minutes and scan every inch of the internet to ensure nothing is missing.

With the vast search capabilities available to you with a simple subscription, using a background check service is well worth it.

Plus, when it’s something as serious as an individual’s potential criminal background – it’s best to leave it to a professional service.

What are the different types of background checks?

Various types of background checks are used for different situations. While each type is designed to help you get an accurate background screening, the motivating reasons behind these background checks could influence what information is looked for.

Here are some common types of background checks:

Criminal background checks

A criminal background check is used for situations where a person wants to learn more about someone’s criminal history and activity. This could include violent crimes, sexual misconduct, fraud, embezzlement, or even felony charges.

These reports differ from credit checks and employment verification in regards to how the information is being accessed.

Criminal search screenings will sort through various public records, including:

  • Federal and state criminal records
  • Sex offender registries
  • County criminal courts
  • Domestic and global watch lists
  • National criminal records

Employment background checks

Some employers and small businesses will run an employee background check to help mitigate the risk of hiring the wrong candidate. An employee may pose a threat to the workplace and could become a liability to the employer.

An employee background check usually happens after someone applies for the job, but it can happen any time employers think that it is necessary.

To run employment background checks, employers will need the candidate’s name, Social Security Number, date of birth, residential address, as well as employee consent.

But, conducting an employee background screening to determine whether employment is offered or not, can be a dicey process. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires employers to follow specific regulations to ensure the process is conducted fairly.

The background check services reviewed in this article cannot be used for employment purposes. It’s best to use a website like GoodHire for something like that. GoodHire is a background check platform built specifically for businesses.

Which is the best background check service?

Truthfinder, Intelius, and Instant CheckMate all use accurate data and therefore deliver up-to-date background checks. They are also reputable services that are FCRA-compliant.

Sometimes accuracy depends on whether the person has been using an alias. If this is the case, try searching for common names, previous names, and nicknames. Luckily, most of the background check sites can detect aliases as well.


Truthfinder, Intelius, and Instant CheckMate are all reputable businesses that can be trusted for your background check needs. They make it easy to search for information on specific people. Additionally, these sites collect their data legally and provide disclosure information so you can do the same.

Whether you want to reach out to an old friend or check for previous criminal activity, these services make it possible to properly verify someone’s background and identity.

We hope this article can help you on your quest to find the information you’re looking for!

The news and editorial staff of Sound Publishing, Inc. had no role in the preparation of this post. The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored post are those of the advertiser and do not reflect those of Sound Publishing, Inc.

Sound Publishing, Inc. does not accept liability for any loss or damages caused by the use of any products, nor do we endorse any products posted in our Marketplace.

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