Best background check services in 2021

Best background check services in 2021

Person writing on computer, using the best background check services.

(Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash)

The best background check services make it simple and easy to search public records for information on one or more specific people, such as for making contact with old friends, or for verifying someone’s identity.

The best background check services

Background check services are different to credit checks and police checks in that they simply use public (or sometimes even private) databases to look up information on one or more named persons.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to run such a check, such as to search for family or friends you’ve lost contact with; or indeed you may even want to simply see what data has been made available on you.

However, you can use these background check services to go further and look for information relating to real estate, businesses, or just to look up who might have called you when you didn’t recognize their number.

The best thing about these sort of checks is that they are simple and easy to do, and there’s no public record of who was searching or who was searched, so there is no harm at all in using such services.

The main negative about these background information check services is that they do tend to be limited, and if you want more than just names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Businesses looking to verify potential employees will need a more dedicated employee background check service.

In the meantime, these are the best background check services currently available.


Website screenshot for Intelius

(Image credit: Intelius)

1. Intelius

Best background check service for beginners

Reasons to buy

+Includes education+Useful visualizations+Subscription and single-report options+Social network viewer

Reasons to avoid

Relatively expensive

Intelius’s background checks are more exhaustive than many. In addition to the usual addresses, criminal history and financial information, it also includes educational history – useful data if you’re trying to use Intelius to get in touch with someone from your past.

Intelius specially recommends using its service to reconnect with old friends, check someone’s criminal record, and see what appears in your background check. It also allows you to find out who is calling you, review property data on the house you want. The service is quick at getting you the information you want, and all searches are private and confidential and will not show that you searched for that information.

Intelius offers seven unique background search products, ranging from phone directory lookups to full-scale background checks. No matter which of these you want to use, you’ll need to sign up for a long-term membership to access them. Each plan comes with a similar monthly subscription cost, but initial trial period prices vary.

Besides that extensive database, Intelius is notable for its intuitive interface. Despite some slightly confusing billing practices, we consider this to be one of the best background check services. We also like the way Intelius shows connections as a graph, making it easy to see how things are related. There’s also a monthly subscription option and with the quality on show from Intelius, it should be worth the expense.


Website screenshot for Instant Checkmate

(Image credit: Instant Checkmate)

2. Instant Checkmate

Best background check service for data

Reasons to buy

+Good value for money+Accurate and timely data+Great search tools+Unlimited reports with subscription

Reasons to avoid

No single-report option

Instant Checkmate is a people search finder that aggregates data from public records. The service is simple to use and offers a wide range of information, including contact details and criminal records. Results aren’t instantaneous and the service prompts you with a lot of questions and warnings before delivering a report, which can be annoying.

Instant Checkmate enables you to search for someone based on just their name, city, and state. There’s also a reverse phone lookup feature, although this is somewhat hard to find on the Instant Checkmate website. When you run a search, you’re presented with a list of potential matches and you can pull a detailed report for any individual.

The service only checks public records, so there’s no information available through Instant Checkmate that you can’t get elsewhere. However, the platform does cast a wide net and includes details about properties, vehicles past address, family members, marriages, and bankruptcies in its reports. The tool will also tell you if the individual you’re searching is a registered sex offender, if they hold a gun license, or if they have any criminal, arrest, or traffic records.

One of the best things about this service is that you get a huge range of data compared to similar search tools. Running a search with Instant Checkmate can be frustrating since you have to click through more than a dozen pop-ups before you can see the final report. If you can overlook this flaw, though, Instant Checkmate is relatively easy to use.


Website screenshot for TruthFinder

(Image credit: TruthFinder)

3. TruthFinder

Best background check service for frequent checks

Reasons to buy

+Unlimited background checks+Self-monitoring tools+Impressive people finding capabilities

Reasons to avoid

Not cheap

TruthFinder offers a range of different background check features covering both public and private databases, and the likes of self-monitoring tools – so you can see what other people might find out about you.

TruthFinder offers many of the same features that you’d expect to find with other background check services. These include searches that cover both public and private databases plus the ability to identify potential associates and relatives of your search subject. 

The TruthFinder platform also offers self-monitoring tools, meaning you can view your record to see what potential employers, or other people who search for you, will see on the platform. Through TruthFinder, you can even claim a particular record as your own. If you do this, you’ll be able to correct factual inaccuracies on it or hide it from other TruthFinder users.

Its skills as a people finder platform are impressive, and TruthFinder provides a wealth of information on the person you’re searching for. Another major strength here is the ability to complete unlimited background checks. The main downside is it isn’t a cheap service, but if you’re going to use TruthFinder a lot, it’ll certainly be worth the outlay.


Website screenshot for US Search

(Image credit: US Search)

Best budget background check service

Reasons to buy

+Affordable reporting+Good search options+Up-to-date data+Search results are free+Reports include contact information

Reasons to avoid

No option to buy a single report

In addition to background checks, US Search enables you to travel back in time: the site looks and feels like Yahoo circa 1998. But the lack of web design budget appears to mean that US Search has been able to invest more in thorough search options and excellent price points.

You can search people by name, phone number, address, or email address, and US Search will turn up a large list of search results to help you find the exact person for whom you are looking. Unlike other people search tools, US Search doesn’t put up a paywall in front of the search results. You’ll be able to see the list so you can find the right person—you only pay to access the full report for an individual.

The reports contain basic information like the names of family members, past addresses, properties owned, and any criminal records. Helpfully, they also offer any known phone numbers, email addresses, and social media handles so that you can get in touch with the person you’re searching for. That makes US Search particularly useful for reconnecting with an old friend or long-lost relative.

There are various pricing options available, starting with a single report cost, or a monthly subscription available for unlimited searches, or a quarterly package for the same but with a discount.

It may not be pretty, but it’s certainly pretty good value for money, not to mention a robust background check solution.


Website screenshot for PeopleFinders

(Image credit: PeopleFinders)

5. PeopleFinders

Best comprehensive background check service

Reasons to buy

+Affordable, comprehensive reporting+Uncovers data some rivals don’t+Easy to use website+Purchase single reports+Excellent mobile apps

Reasons to avoid

No social media data

PeopleFinders is, as the name makes clear enough, a people finder service, and it does a very good job of this. It’s a straightforward online tool for finding out more about someone using public records, and scours public databases to help you identify someone based on just their name, phone number, email, or address. You can buy a single report or get unlimited access to run as many searches as you want.

PeopleFinders offers several ways to search for someone. You can enter their name and city, phone number, email, or a known address. For name searches with multiple potential matches, PeopleFinders presents you with a list of possible results along with age and known family members to help you narrow down your search. That’s critical, since many similar search tools present you with a paywall before you even know if there are results for your search.

PeopleFinders offers several different pricing options. For a single individual, there are two reports: a search report that includes basic contact information and a background report that includes criminal, property, and court records. You can also access unlimited reports with a monthly subscription.

We found its service comprehensive and it uncovered some data that rivals didn’t. For example, PeopleFinders told us about a company owned by one of our targets that other sites didn’t report.

It’s not so good on internet stuff, though, as it lacks social media data, and the website can’t be accessed outside of the US. It’s one of the most affordable options, though, if you need to use it over a longer period of time.


Website screenshot for BeenVerified

(Image credit: BeenVerified)

6. BeenVerified

Best background check service for property

Reasons to buy

+Superb for work history+Affordable subscriptions+Many input data options+Unclaimed property search

Reasons to avoid

Cannot buy a single reportPaywall before search results

BeenVerified allows you to run an informal background check using public data records to help you find any person in the US. You can search using a name, address, phone number, email, social media handle, or a vehicle identification number (VIN).

The site then presents you with a list of potential matches, and you can download a full report for any individual. The report includes contact details, property records, criminal records, and social media information. However, you won’t get more detailed information about weapons licenses, traffic violations, and other records that some other people search finders offer.

One additional thing that BeenVerified offers that many other people search tools do not is an unclaimed property search. You can search for yourself or anyone else to see if a state has unclaimed money or property in your name. Most states have websites with similar search functionality, but this is a nice added feature if you already have a BeenVerified account.

BeenVerified covers the usual background check essentials, but we found it particularly good at uncovering employment history. BeenVerified doesn’t enable you to purchase a report for a single individual. Rather, you have to sign up for a monthly subscription that offers unlimited reports. You can choose between a recurring 1-month subscription, or pay for 3-months. 

The results are solid and the subscription fees aren’t too expensive – just what we like from a background check service. For a package that does all the basics right, BeenVerified is a fine choice.

Close up of a handshake between two men.

(Image credit: Image Credit: Rawpixel / Pexels)

Best employee background check services

Employee background checks are an increasingly normal part of the hiring process. While it used to be the case that only references were required to confirm a person’s identity and good-standing, nowadays an employer will commonly also want to be aware of any records of criminal behavior, financial irregularities, or even history of drug use. This is all on top of mandatory Form I-9 immigration and eligibility checks.

The best employee background checks

However, getting the right information isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Everything is dependent on background checking companies having access to the necessary data, and ensuring it is correct. Additionally, while it may be easier to get records from one state, it can become more of a challenge for providers to collate data from across the country, and even from abroad, where required.

This is why choosing the right company for making employee background checks is essential, because if the provider cannot produce the records required with the accuracy needed, this can result in risks to both the employer and employees. With that in mind, we’ve picked out the best employee background check companies for you right here.


Website screenshot for Universal Background Screening

(Image credit: Universal Background Screening)

1. Universal Background Screening

Fully accredited background checks

Reasons to buy

+Wide variety of checks available+County, state, and federal checks+NAPBS accredited

Universal Background Screening provides comprehensive employment checks at the county, state, and federal levels, using a combination of government and industry-specific databases. Key checks available include criminal records, employment history, as well as education, and professional accreditation records. Drug testing records, income, and Form I-9 compliance can also be verified.

Inquiries can be made directly through a client portal on the company website, and results are usually provided within two days for criminal checks, or up to three days for other forms of verification. However, there’s also the option for ATS and HRIS integration within your HR department, where supported. A wide number of industry checks are available.

Universal Background Screening is an accredited member of National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Checks are fully compliant with state and federal legislation, as well as follow industry best practices for the protection of employers and clients.

Fees vary according to the background checks actually required, so will you need to contact Universal Background Screening for a quote according to your needs.


Website screenshot for People Trail

(Image credit: People Trail)

2. People Trail

Background checks with human guidance

Reasons to buy

+Wide range of industries+Accredited & compliant+Human guidance

People Trail is an NAPBS accredited provider of compliant background checks for employers, covering the areas of criminal records, identity verification, credit records, drug screening, credentials and education. 

The criminal records check can include felonies and misdemeanors and even traffic offenses as required, at the county, state, and federal level as needed. Civil court case records can also be included in any search of court databases.

The company is able to provide checks to the specific requirements of different industries, not least construction, education, finance, government, healthcare, and retail. Background checks provided can be as targeted or as comprehensive as required, and People Trail emphasizes that they provide human guidance to ensure the right areas for information are checked.

Pricing will vary according to the range and depth of any background checks made, so you will need to contact People Trail for a quote.


Website screenshot for GoodHire

(Image credit: GoodHire)

3. GoodHire

Data-powered background checks

Reasons to buy

+Search records directly+Mobile-friendly platform+Low dispute rate

GoodHire is another major provider of employee background checks, covering standard areas such as criminal convictions, credit checks, drug screening, and identity verification. 

The company covers a wide range of industries with specific background check needs, not least construction, healthcare, retail, and technology companies.

Where GoodHire differs from other providers is that it stores a lot of data for popular searches, and can provide this through a mobile-friendly platform for customers to carry out their own background checks. 

While some, not least a search of criminal or civil convictions, may still take a couple of days, for other more centralized data such as identify verification turnaround can be instant. Even better, compliance filters result in a dispute rate advertised as low of less than 0.03%.


Website screenshot for EBI Inc

(Image credit: EBI Inc)

4. EBI Inc

The global background check service

Reasons to buy

+NAPBS accredited+ATS, HRIS, HCM integrations+Global search options

Employment Background Investigations Inc. (EBI Inc) is another large provider of employment background checks, covering the key areas of criminal record checks, Form I-9 verification, drug testing, occupational health, as well as basic identity checks. The company also provides smart integration for use of its data using ATS, HRIS or HCM software, and an API for your own custom integration.

As with other providers, it covers a range of key industry which have compliance demands, not least transportation, education, healthcare, hospitality, and retail. They can also provide tailored solutions for small business, enterprise screening, as well as extended workforce screening to cover contractors and other third-party labor.

The customer portal allows customers to select which checks to actually perform, guided by EBI staff, and while most searches will be at the county, state, or national level, there are also options to perform global checks, where databases and information accuracy allows.

EBI also provides a number of online resources, such as online webinars and free ebook guides. As with most other companies, EBI charge according to the range and depth of services required rather than a flat-fee.


Website screenshot for Sterling

(Image credit: Sterling)

5. Sterling

Background checks for large firms and SMBs

Reasons to buy

+Big brand screening+NAPBS accredited+Small business packages

Sterling is another major provider of employee background checks, covering main areas of criminal and civil court checks, identity verification, drug and health screening, as well as workforce monitoring. They also offer to provide global checks, as well as social media searches, to ensure you hire employees you can trust. The company is NAPBS accredited and a member of the ASA.

The company works with a wide range of industries, not least construction, utilities, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and transportation. Sterling also offers specific services for small and medium sized businesses.

Although the company provides screening for major brands and agencies, Sterling also provides a number of packaged solutions for small businesses in order to make background checking services more accessible and affordable. These small business packages have flat-fee pricing, and cost varying according to the depth and breadth of search required.

However, for most clients a more custom approach to employee background checks will be required and therefore will need to contact Sterling directly for a quote.

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