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Published: May 11, 2023 28 min read

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  • Not FCRA compliant; can’t be used for employment, credit decisions, and more. 
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Whether you're hiring, are involved in a legal case or are going on a first date, a background check site could give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

However, it’s important to note that you can't use any site for all searches.

If you're conducting background checks on potential employees, domestic workers or tenants you need a background check site that complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This Act, aimed at protecting consumers’ privacy, places limits on the kind of information that can be obtained on prospective employees and others.

By contrast, you don’t need to use an FCRA-compliant background check site if you want to conduct a search on yourself, a new neighbor or someone you’re seeing.

Read on to learn more about the best background check sites.

Our Top Picks for Background Check Sites

Pre-employment Background Check Sites

People-Search Background Check Sites

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Best Background Check Site Reviews

Pre-employment Background Check Sites

  • Provides info from around the world
  • Customizes reports based on company requirements
  • FCRA-compliant
  • Site does not include information on pricing
  • Difficult to contact customer support
  • Focuses only on businesses

Why we chose it: First Advantage stands out for offering international background checks that include ID verification, criminal records search and financial checks, among others.

First Advantage caters to employers — from small family-run businesses to global organizations — by offering extensive screenings that include criminal background, licenses and credentials, driving records, social media accounts and more.

While some services limit their searches to U.S. records, First Advantage can run searches in 19 countries around the world, making it useful for companies looking to hire international workers. It can also do post-employment criminal record monitoring, a service that will alert you if First Advantage finds criminal or adverse motor vehicle records for an employee after they’ve been hired.

This year, First Advantage announced three new service bundles aimed at simplifying the screening and onboarding process for employers and applicants. All three include background screening, identity verification (which includes the I-9 form compliance check to ascertain employee work eligibility) and drug screening.

One drawback — First Advantage does not list a range of prices on their website. You must fill out a form or call customer service in order to get a quote.

  • Custom packages for various industries
  • Global locations and partners
  • FCRA-compliant
  • Inconsistent customer service
  • Investigation subjects report have reported inaccuracies in reports

Why we chose it: HireRight made our list because it offers screening packages tailored to particular industries such as hospitality, insurance, technology and transportation, among others.

HireRight offers both pre- and post-hire screening services for mid-size businesses and global enterprises. Searches include, among others:

  • Criminal Background Services
  • Identity Services (to help determine candidates’ work eligibility)
  • Verification candidate credentials, employment, and education history
  • Civil litigation and media searches
  • Drug and health screening
  • Driving records checks
  • Post-employment monitoring

As employees of different industries need to comply with different requirements and regulations, HireRight has ready-made screening packages for 14 different industries; however, it also lets customers pick and choose among its services to create a package that fits their needs.

Customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau website show a pattern of inconsistent customer service from people who underwent a background check with HireRight. Job candidates tell how they had to call in customer service on various occasions to dispute inaccuracies or errors in their background reports.

  • Custom pricing for companies that perform over 300 checks a year
  • Candidates can use mobile phones to complete forms
  • FCRA-compliant
  • Some complaints of slow turnaround times
  • Extra charges for some jurisdictions

Why we chose it: As a consumer reporting agency, Checkr is an option for small businesses and enterprises looking to do pre-employment background searches.

Checkr is well-suited for small businesses looking for a high-tech approach to employee screening. Checkr uses AI-powered technology in its searches, which it says can make any potentially adverse findings clearer and easier to categorize, can predict how long the check will take and filters information to comply with local laws.

Checkr’s technological approach is not only used internally. This provider offers a mobile portal where candidates can track their screening process and contact support.

It will also conduct searches of global watchlist records and can provide international background checks along with education and employment verification.

All levels of checks include SSN trace, sex offender registry, global watchlist records and national criminal records. Checkr’s options and pricing are:

  • Basic+ starting at $29.99 for a single check
  • Essential starting from $54.99 per check which includes unlimited county criminal search
  • Professional starting from $79.99 a check adding education and current employment verifications.

Checkr doesn't charge any set-up fees. They do, however, charge customers for searches of courts in certain jurisdictions and DMV records. These fees vary by state.

Customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau site show a pattern of complaints alleging slow turnaround times and difficulties contacting customer service, as Checkr doesn’t list a customer service number on its site.

Custom pricing is available for companies that perform over 300 checks a year.

People Search Background Check Sites

Unlike the FCRA-compliant companies above, these background search sites cannot be used for employment purposes. You can, however, use them to conduct personal searches.

  • Unlimited number of searches
  • Dark web monitoring
  • No option for single report
  • Not a consumer reporting agency

Why we chose it: Instant Checkmate made our list because it offers unlimited reports for subscribers.

Instant Checkmate searches public records and other publicly available data sources to create its reports. Its reports contain date of birth, addresses, contact information, criminal convictions and other public information. Unlike many competitors, its subscriptions include unlimited searches and reports.

Instant Checkmates subscription search types and pricing is

  • Person Reports for $35.12 a month or $28.09 a month for a 3-month membership
  • Reverse Phone Lookup for $5.00 a month

While both subscriptions include unlimited reports, the only way to download these onto your device are by paying a $3.99 add-on.

Upgrading to a Premium Report at $19.99 per report will get you additional info like weapons or hunting permits, properties owned and foreclosures or tax liens.

  • Allows fine-tuning of results
  • Includes dark web search
  • Offers customer support over the phone
  • Additional cost to download reports
  • Not a consumer reporting agency

Why we chose it: We selected TruthFinder because it sources information from federal, state and county records, as well as from social media platforms and websites.

TruthFinder is aimed at people looking to find out more about new people in their lives, find old friends or family members, or learn more about their neighbors.

Its services include people search, reverse phone number lookup and reverse email lookup. Although it offered reverse address lookup in the past their site says this service is currently under maintenance.

TruthFinder’s membership options are:

  • People search with unlimited persons and location reports for $28.05 a month (or $23.28 a month if you subscribe on a bi-monthly basis)
  • Reverse email lookup that includes unlimited person and email reports for $29.73 a month
  • Reverse phone lookup for $4.99 a month including unlimited email reports

For an extra $3.99 a month, you can download reports and monitor them for updates.

For $2.99, TruthFinder also offers dark web monitoring, which alerts you if your credentials appear on the dark web.

  • Extended customer service (6:00 am to 11:30 pm EST)
  • Consumer-focused services
  • Several details provided for one price
  • Limited to 100 searches a month
  • Pricing is not listed on their site
  • Not a consumer reporting agency

Why we chose it: Unlike most other background search sites, BeenVerified provides an app for both Apple and Android devices.

BeenVerified memberships include standard people search services such as reverse phone , email and address lookup, as well as username search, vehicle lookup, criminal records and arrest warrants.

Finding prices for BeenVerified’s services isn’t a straightforward process. Potential customers have to visit its FAQ page and scroll down to current offers where you have to select an option and proceed to checkout. Here is where you can finally see BeenVerified’s membership options and pricing, which are:

  • One-month membership for $22.86
  • Three-month membership for $14.86 a month ($44.58 in total)
  • Seven-day trial for $1.00

The service allows for multiple searches and gives clear instructions on what you can and can't do with the information it collects. For example, it states it’s not FCRA compliant and therefore, you can’t use their services for employment screenings.

Where BeenVerified stands out among competitors is in providing these services through its mobile phone apps. These specialized apps are available for Android and iOS devices and have a 3.7 and 4.6 rating in their respective app stores.

When using the apps, users can not only conduct searches on-the-go, but they can also access reports collected on other mobile devices or on their desktops.

  • One of the most affordable subscription services
  • Results returned within a minute or so for most checks
  • Only covers U.S.
  • Not a consumer reporting agency

Why we chose it: We selected Spokeo for our list because its people search services are more affordable than competitors.

Spokeo is a background check service that helps customers search public records by using a person’s name, email, phone number or street address to create a report. Spokeo describes the service as a 100% electronic process that scours billions of public records and links matching data to create its reports.

Users who need basic information can obtain a person's age, family relationships, city and state of residence for free. For more details like phone numbers, full addresses, or email addresses users must sign up for the membership which costs $19.95 a month.

Spokeo also offers a $19.99 background report upgrade which includes marital status records, bankruptcies, foreclosure and more.

  • Many subscription plans to choose from
  • Data drawn from many public record sources and compiled into one report
  • Reverse phone lookup available
  • Not FCRA compliant
  • Customer service difficult to reach
  • Difficult to cancel

Why we chose it: We selected Intelius because it offers several product trials so customers can try out the service without having to commit to a membership.

Intelius, similar to other background check services for individuals, offers people search, reverse phone lookup, reverse address lookup and other public records searches. What sets it apart from others on the list is that it has several affordable trial periods for people who want or need to do a quick search but don’t want to commit to the monthly subscription.

The first is a $1.99 five-day trial with unlimited People Search reports. These reports may contain criminal records, address history, phone numbers, court documents, mugshots, contact info, sex offenses, speeding tickets, and more.

Intelius also has a $0.95 six-day trial for its reverse phone lookup plus people search with unlimited phone, persons and address reports. The reports may include the name of the phone number’s owner, their address and social media profiles.

The final trial is a seven-day address lookup and people search option for $0.95. Members get unlimited address and persons reports that can include name of the residents, location details, ownership history, property value, evictions and other information about the address.

Intelius also offers the following subscriptions:

  • People Search for $24.86 a month (or $21.13 a month for a bi-monthly subscription)
  • Reverse Phone Lookup (plus People Search) for $34.95 a month
  • Address Lookup (including People Search) for $34.95 a month

Know that if you don’t cancel your trial within the trial period you will be charged the full amount for the membership as per Intelius’ billing terms.

  • Easy to use
  • Occasional promotional offers
  • Good customer support
  • No additional fees
  • Inaccuracies reported by some users
  • Subscription only
  • Not a consumer reporting agency

Why we chose it: US Search offers unlimited searches each month for a flat fee with no additional charges, great if you're looking for straight forward background check services.

US Search, like all people search services, uses publicly available records from across the U.S. to create its reports. The company provides background information along with financial information (such as assets and real estate holdings), bankruptcies, civil actions, and criminal and traffic records. The user interface for its individual accounts is a little clunky, but the results are easy to read.

US Search also provides services for legal professionals who need to do background research for cases. For $59 per month or $599 per year, you can get unlimited reports and unlimited PDF downloads.

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Other background check sites we considered


  • Customer help center available
  • Easy-to-read, accurate results
  • FCRA-compliant
  • Extra charges for some searches
  • Charges a set-up fee not listed on its packages

GoodHire, an FCRA-compliant background check service, offers in-depth searches into an individual’s background, gathering information on credit, education, criminal proceedings and more.

GoodHire offers over 100 employment screening services, including education verification, healthcare sanction checks, identity checks and more. Its basic checks offer a Social Security number trace, sex offender registry search, global watchlist records check and national criminal records check for $29.99. Prices are based on single reports.

Why it didn't make the cut: It was acquired by Checkr and its services will soon fall under the Checkr brand.


  • Easy to contact customer service
  • Offers data useful for sales, marketing and recruiting
  • Built to plug into platforms like Gmail, Hubspot and Salesforce
  • Coverage limited to people in the U.S.
  • Not a consumer reporting agency
  • Desktop version provides less functionality than mobile app

This app-based service is able to conduct six types of checks, including people search, reverse phone lookup, and business-to-business information for sales teams.

A one-month subscription costs $22.86 and three months are $54.83 with a limit of 100 searches per month.

Why it didn't make the cut: It offers similar services to a provider on the list but at higher cost.


  • Updates data daily
  • Separate business division
  • Extended customer service hours
  • Searches limited to people in the U.S.
  • No social media searches
  • Not a consumer reporting agency

PeopleFinders provides searches based on public records for individuals and businesses. Memberships begin at $24.95 a month for reports that may include current and past contact info, reverse phone lookups, addresses, phone numbers, aliases, age, relatives and associates. If you’re looking for arrest records, criminal records, sex offender check or other legal information you must sign up for the $29.99 a month premium membership.

Why it didn't make the cut: PeopleFinders didn’t make the cut because it provides the same services as other providers, but at a higher price.

Background Check Guide

When a business, organization or individual wants information on someone before entering into a professional or personal relationship, background check services are an easy and convenient tool to get it. The following guide explains exactly what a background check is, how it works and the types of information it can turn up.

Table of Contents

What is a background check?

Both individuals and companies can use background checks to gather information that can provide a fuller picture of a person's life.

However, not all background searches can be conducted in the same way.

The federal government limits what background check services can report, for how long they can report certain information and how these services gather information.

When the search is requested by a potential employer or landlord, the process must follow the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which requires background check services to get an individual's signed consent before conducting searches.

Once they have the prospective employee’s consent, these services can obtain credit reports, driving records and other sensitive information. It’s important to note that investigations on prospective domestic workers — including cleaning professionals and nannies — must also follow FCRA provisions.

The FCRA also protects individuals by ensuring they're told if information in their credit file was used against them to deny employment, insurance or credit. Additionally, it gives individuals the right to know what's in their consumer reporting agency file and to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.

On the other hand, people search services — that is, searches on friends, long-lost relatives or neighbors — don't need to be FCRA-compliant. However, since these searches do not require the signed consent of the person to be investigated, they cannot provide you with particularly sensitive pieces of information, such as credit reports or driving records.

How does a background check work?

Individuals can carry out a free background check by doing a basic web search that can provide info about a person or business, but it won't include everything that's on the public record.

Public records include personally identifiable information usually held by the government such as official name, date of birth, address, marital status, criminal records, civil litigation, tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies and whether a person is in the sex offender registry.

Background check services can access these records by checking government databases in the locations where the subject of the investigation has lived. While anyone is allowed to access many of these databases, it can come at a cost or are difficult to find if you don’t know where to look.

When you purchase a background check, you normally get a detailed report of an individual's personal information. However, the details that show up vary according to the report requested.

What do background checks show?

Before going into detail, we must make the distinction between a regular background check and employment checks. Regular background checks are those run by individuals when they want to learn more about a person.

These background checks can reveal publicly available information on a person, including:

  • Birthdate
  • Relatives
  • Past and present addresses
  • Social media accounts
  • Criminal history (if available online)
  • Assets and property owned
  • Civil litigation
  • Tax liens
  • Some judgments
  • Bankruptcies

This information can be found without a signed consent from the investigation subject, however, it cannot be used for insurance purposes or to screen prospective employees, domestic workers or tenants. If that’s the purpose of your search, you must do what’s usually called a pre-employment check that complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What does a pre-employment check show?

Employment checks are those run by employers when screening applicants. Although usually called employment checks, these types of verifications are also used by landlords, insurance companies and lenders.

Since this information is regulated under the FCRA, you'll need to get the individual’s written permission before running these types of background checks.

In addition to revealing the same information as a regular check, pre-employment checks can also show:

Criminal history records

Criminal background checks include offenses committed at all levels: county, state and federal. Background check services can also order in-person searches of court records (as opposed to just what is available online) and often search sex offender registries and global watchlists.

Employment history

Employment history typically reveals a person's past employers, job titles and employment dates so employers can corroborate the information on a prospective employee’s resume.

Driving records

Driving records show traffic violations, accidents, DUIs and other driving mishaps. These records are particularly useful if your organization is hiring a driver. Note that this search requires a signed consent from the subject of the investigation.

Education verification

Education verification is often part of a basic hiring investigation. You may be able to verify this information by contacting schools directly or organizations such as the National Student Clearinghouse which works with universities to gather and provide education data. However, a background check service makes the process easier.

Credit history

Credit history includes bill payment history, level of debt, loans, bankruptcies and legal actions taken, but not necessarily your credit score. Employers must get the investigation subject’s consent to conduct the credit check.

Levels of Background Checks

There are different types of background checks and these can vary widely in depth and complexity. In addition, some jobs require industry-specific education and experience, and some employers will check specific and relevant areas of a person’s history to determine if they’re the right candidate for the job.

Below are the six types of background checks that employers usually carry out:

  1. Identity verification - As the name suggests, this check is to verify your identity by running a social security number trace to corroborate your name, date of birth and address history. This will also confirm citizenship or eligibility for work.
  2. Criminal background check - This verification could involve searches of court records in places where you have been shown to live, as well as sex offender registries. It’s important to note, however, that states have their own laws that regulate what types of criminal records can be reported and for how long.
  3. Credit check - Employers can obtain copies of credit reports provided they have a signed release allowing them to do so. A credit check can yield financial information on the subject such as open lines of credit or loans, payment history, debt-to-credit ratio, bankruptcies and credit inquiries.
  4. Education and employment verification - Education checks confirm a candidate’s degree, the academic institution they attended, the dates of attendance and, in a few cases, GPA and honors the person earned. Employment checks typically involve calls to former employers confirming the candidate’s previous jobs and employment dates.
  5. Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) - This type of background check shows a candidate’s driving record including whether the license is suspended or expired, what class of license it is (private passenger or commercial) and any infractions. An MVR check is especially important for jobs that require employees to drive.
  6. Fingerprint Background Check - This level of check is not the norm, unless candidates need security clearance or will handle sensitive information in their day-to-day. This is a more in-depth criminal check given the fingerprints are cross-checked with those in the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
  7. Civil Litigation - Companies usually also search for any civil lawsuits or legal disputes in which the candidate has been involved.
  8. Tax liens, judgements and bankruptcies - Searching for any tax liens, judgments, or bankruptcies associated with the candidate is another way companies will assess a candidate’s financial responsibility.
  9. Social media check - This type of background check involves searching an applicant's social media profiles to determine whether they have any inappropriate content or behavior that could reflect poorly on the organization.

How to choose a background check company

Choosing the best background check site for you will depend on the purpose of your search.

Individuals who want to learn more about a person in their life can use a regular background check company that offers people search and reverse phone, email or address lookup services.

However, if you're an employer, you need an FCRA-compliant company that can not only provide accurate and timely information but also meet all applicable laws and regulations. Therefore, the main factors to consider when choosing a background check company are compliance, accuracy, cost and turnaround time.

Make sure the company you’re considering complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, especially the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It should also follow best practices for privacy and security given they’ll be collecting and sharing sensitive information.

When researching a company, check to see if it uses reliable and up-to-date sources to provide accurate background checks. Ask prospective companies what quality control measures they have in place to ensure the accuracy of their reports.

Some companies have a pricing page on their website, others prefer you contact them so they can provide a quote. Regardless of the method, the company's pricing should be transparent and competitive, and they should provide a breakdown of their fees so that you can understand the costs involved.

Before you commit to a service, make sure to ask about its turnaround times. This is because delays in the background screening process can result in lost opportunities or increased risk to the organization.

You can also search for the company on the Better Business Bureau website and consumer review sites. These sites are also useful for seeing examples of customer experiences, complaints and to learn how the company handled the situation.

Primary reasons for conducting a background check

Background checks are essential for many organizations' hiring and business practices because due diligence has become vital for protecting the interests of companies and individuals alike.

Due diligence involves gathering all available information on a person to assess their financial and legal standing. The main reasons for conducting a background check include:

  • Pre-employment screening
  • Litigation purposes
  • Personal relationships

Litigation purposes

Background checks may be conducted for legal reasons such as finding out information about parties in a lawsuit, checking the accuracy of financial claims, or ensuring your own background is free of legal actions.

Risk management

Both financial institutions and individual investors can choose to perform background checks on potential borrowers or business partners. These searches can be extensive and complex, and can include searches for assets, litigation and more.


You may want to perform a background check before becoming involved in a relationship, whether that relationship is business-related or personal. People also often use background check services to help find information on biological family members or long-lost friends.

Best Background Check Sites FAQ

How much does a background check cost?


The cost of a background check depends on the type.

Many of the top background check websites provide several different types at a range of price points for people checks (i.e. not a pre-employment screening). These services can run from around $20 up to $60 or more for a monthly subscription. Free or cheap trials are sometimes available, but make sure to cancel before you're charged.

Prices for pre-employment checks are not usually available on company websites. You'll need to contact the company so they can provide a quote based on your specific needs. These screenings can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands.

The final price will depend on factors such as the scope of the check (is it local, national or international), the industry (some require more in-depth information), turnaround time and how many checks you want. Some companies do offer bulk pricing.

How long does a background check take?

As a general rule, background checks from an FCRA-compliant provider can take between one to three business days. However, the depth of the check can affect turnaround times. Many services can provide reports in minutes if they're a simple check, while others, such as FBI checks, can take up to 30 days.

What does a background check show?


This largely depends on the type of background check performed. Pre-employment screenings can show a person's credit history, education, driving records along with public records, such as civil or criminal litigation, tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies and more.

Non-pre-employment background checks — for example, checks that that can be performed on "people search" sites — can show where the person has lived, any criminal records available online, sex offender registry listings, and sometimes tax liens or judgments.

How far back does a background check go?

The FCRA sets rules for consumer reporting agencies about how far back a search can go. Additionally, states may have their own rules. The time period covered by background checks varies according to the type of check. On average, the limits are:
  • Bankruptcy: 10 years
  • Credit history: seven years
  • Criminal felonies and misdemeanors:7 years from when the charges were filed if the person was convicted of the crime. However, this can also depend on the state and the type of infraction involved.
  • Driving records: up to 10 years, depending on the state
  • Education: no limit
  • Employment: no limit

How We Chose the Best Background Check Sites

To select the nine best background check services we considered the following factors:


We looked at whether the background check services delivered their reports in a timely manner.


We looked at costs for each service, including the prices for basic and premium offerings. We also considered whether a service offered prices for individual checks or any extra fees for additional services.

User interface and accessibility

We based our evaluations for each background check service on the ease of navigating the site and reading the information provided.

Extensiveness of background checks

To determine extensiveness, we considered what information each service was able to access and how comprehensive its reports were.

Summary of the Best Background Check Sites of 2023

Pre-employment Background Check Sites

People Search Background Check Sites