What You Can and Cannot Do on Online Background Check Sites
Want to check up on someone renting your apartment via Airbnb? Need to find out if your new nanny is who they say they are? Or what about doing pre-interview screenings on potential employees? Well, unfortunately, you can’t do that via an online background check website.
Most background check websites are NOT a consumer reporting agency. This means you cannot use their website for reasons created by the FCRA – the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
You can use background check websites to:
- Check out new neighbors
- Get the 411 on a new beau
- Find out if someone living in your neighborhood is a sex offender
- Locate long-lost family members and distant relatives
- Make sure your kids are in good hands with their friends’ parents
- Figure out if new friends are worthy of your trust
- Find old friends and former classmates
- Beware of potential online scams when buying or selling items
- Do a reverse phone lookup on a mystery number
- Get the latest celebrity gossip
- See what is available about YOU online
Here’s what you can’t use online background checks for:
- Screen potential employees
- Research domestic workers before you hire them
- Sell, assign, terminate, or sell a lease for commercial or residential space
- Hire professional service providers (like tutors, coaches, nurses, personal trainers…etc.)
- Determine if a person is eligible for an educational scholarship or grant, as well as financial aid
- Verify an individual’s credit history for loans and/or insurance
What sets TruthFinder apart from the rest of the background check websites is the incredible amount of information that it can find. It starts off by offering the same functionality you’ll find across all of the leading background check sites:
- Home addresses
- Criminal records
- Social media profile search
However, that information is just where TruthFinder starts. In addition to all these standard things, it will also allow you to go incredibly in-depth with additional data such as:
- Educational information
- Weapons permits
- Current or former roommates
- Deep web search
Bottom line, no matter what type of information you are looking for, there simply is no other service that can match TruthFinder for comprehensiveness.
And despite being so thorough, TruthFinder still manages to be easy to use. Its interface is one of the most intuitive out there, and only requires you to input the bare minimum of information about the subject of your search to generate comprehensive and easy-to-use reports:
- Last name
Altogether, TruthFinder offers up all the information you need in a way that is quick and easy to understand.
Read more about TruthFinder in our extensive review.
If you are looking to do a search on a family member, Instant Checkmate is one of the best options out there. When you are searching for someone, you can also take advantage of the family search functionality. By adding the names of family members to your search, the feature allows you to:
- Keep tabs on a child or spouse
- Search for adopted parents
- Find long lost relatives
Another great, unique feature Instant Checkmate offers is “Report Watcher.” Searching for someone on most background check websites will simply pull up a snapshot — a moment in time that reflects what information was out there when you did the search. However, important information can surface after you’ve done the search. Report Watcher allows you to stay up to date with this information in a number of ways:
- Text alerts that will be sent directly to your phone
- Email alerts that you can have sent to a secure inbox far away from prying eyes
- Instant updates to your Instant Checkmate account, notifying you of a change
Instant Checkmate’s notifications offer you peace of mind that you are always up to date with the latest developments for everyone important to you.
Read more about Instant Checkmate in our extensive review.
One of the most common reasons that people run a background check is to check for a potentially dangers criminal past, and US Search offers one of the most comprehensive criminal database searches you’ll find. It conducts one of the most thorough criminal records searches available anywhere, which includes:
- Case numbers
- Offense details
- Arrest details
Given the importance of having this information when necessary without any delay, US Search has also gone to great pains to create a system that returns results instantly. This ensures that not a single second is wasted that might put you or those you care about in danger.
In addition, US Search’s property market functionality is incredible. All the information you could want about a property is available, such as:
- Current market valuations
- Comparable property sales values
- County records
- Plot ownership history and details
If you are worried that you might miss something while doing a title or any other kind of property search, US Search puts the tools you need at your disposal.
Read more about US Search in our extensive review.
One of the most dynamic and affordable background check report services available, Intelius offers plans that allow you to get all of the capabilities you need, without having to pay for anything you don’t:
Premier ($19.95/mo) & Premier Plus ($29.95/mo): Offer comprehensive search features including:
- Criminal records
- Drug trafficking
- Tax evasion
- Securities fraud
If you don’t need such comprehensive information but just want to zero-in on one or two key pieces of data, there are additional, ad hoc reports available as well:
- Current phone and address lookups ($7.95/report)
- Federal and nationwide county criminal checks ($19.95/report)
Intelius also offers a very thorough civil court records search service due via its “on-site” service. This feature allows you to dispatch a professional court records researcher to the physical courthouse where the information you are looking for is kept. A number of different documents can be found including:
- Judgment amounts
- Deposition dates
- Sentencing information
It’s an excellent option for those looking to get at records that do not exist online.
Overall, Intelius offers comprehensive, pinpoint searches both online and off. The price flexibility for a service that returns such thorough records is welcome, and really sets the site apart.
Read more about Intelius in our extensive review.
Spokeo makes the list of top background search sites due to the exceptional value it offers to customers. Many other services will offer various types of membership plans, but Spokeo goes above and beyond to offer a full year membership for just $8.95/mo. That price point is nearly a 66% discount on what you will see other leading background check sites offering for their services. There simply isn’t a better offer anywhere when it comes to value for your money.
Of course, we wouldn’t be touting its price if this wasn’t also a powerful background check service in and of itself. It pulls information from a dizzying number of data sources, including many places where others don’t such as:
- Business websites
- Marketing surveys
- Public records
- Social media profiles
- Reverse email search
More than any other company, Spokeo knows that people run background checks for intimate and important reasons. It shows this sincerity and commitment to help not only through its incredible pricing structure but also through various recognition and rewards programs.
The most prominent of these is the “Search Angel” awards, which gave special thanks to searchers who had helped families come closer together through the power of background checks.
Read more about Spokeo in our extensive review.
There are a lot of background check services available, but only a precious few that you should trust to give you the most comprehensive and complete information available at a fair price. Sticking to those that we have covered here on this list will ensure not only that you find what you are looking for, but also that you have an excellent experience in the process.