Best Background Check Site - Our Top Picks for 2020

By Dragomir Simovic
Last updated: September 30, 2020

Background checks are a necessity in today’s world. Whether you’re going on a blind date, thinking of hiring someone, or making sure that your tenant doesn’t trash your place, it’s a good idea to do some research. The only thing you need to be very careful about when choosing the best background check site is what type of agency you’re going with. For example, the law mandates that landlords and hiring staff need to use FCRA-compliant agencies and notify the person being checked. But don’t worry; we’ve done the legwork for you and identified one top representative from every field. Take a look.

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1.

TruthFinder
  • Social media coverage
  • Unlimited reports
  • Regularly updated database
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TruthFinder is among the most popular agencies on the market thanks to its vast experience, dedication to high-quality results, and fairly inexpensive service. The pricing plans are subscription-based, but within the package you get unlimited background checks, inclusion of social media, and free alerts for deep web identity theft attempts. The interface is direct and simple, which is a great thing in this niche, and there are plenty of explanations to help you find your way around. There are a couple of complaints you’ll often find in background check companiesreviews, though. You can’t pay for a single report, pop-ups during research can be annoying, and canceling the subscription isn’t as straightforward as getting onboard.

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TruthFinder is among the most popular agencies on the market thanks to its vast experience, dedication to high-quality results, and fairly inexpensive service. The pricing plans are subscription-based, but within the package you get unlimited background checks, inclusion of social media, and free alerts for deep web identity theft attempts. The interface is direct and simple, which is a great thing in this niche, and there are plenty of explanations to help you find your way around. There are a couple of complaints you’ll often find in background check companiesreviews, though. You can’t pay for a single report, pop-ups during research can be annoying, and canceling the subscription isn’t as straightforward as getting onboard.

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  • Interface - Excellent
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Excellent
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Fair

2.

GoodHire
  • Quick turnaround
  • Batch processing
  • FCRA-compliant
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You probably won’t be blown away by GoodHire’s pricing system, as it charges a hefty amount per single report. However, if you own a small, medium, or even large business, you might decide that the sheer number of features and quality of the results might just be worth your investment. GoodHire’s best-rated background check lets you experiment with its API and come up with a unique combination of tools that work best with your company. Batch processing saves a lot of time, as does automation, drastically improving the workflow and making your company more productive. There’s no doubt that GoodHire is an excellent choice for legitimate, official screening.

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You probably won’t be blown away by GoodHire’s pricing system, as it charges a hefty amount per single report. However, if you own a small, medium, or even large business, you might decide that the sheer number of features and quality of the results might just be worth your investment. GoodHire’s best-rated background check lets you experiment with its API and come up with a unique combination of tools that work best with your company. Batch processing saves a lot of time, as does automation, drastically improving the workflow and making your company more productive. There’s no doubt that GoodHire is an excellent choice for legitimate, official screening.

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  • Interface - Excellent
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Excellent
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Fair

3.

Intelius
  • Good prices
  • Extensive searches
  • Single-report option
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While it’s debatable whether Intelius is the best background check company, it sure is among the best known names in the business. The agency offers a solid service at affordable prices through monthly subscriptions and one-time fees for single reports. The results are pretty good, covering social media profiles and education history, among other things. The identity protection feature comes free with the subscription. If you’re in California, you can also opt out of the service and demand that the site doesn’t sell your information. Intelius reviews made by users often complain about the lack of transparency in the agency’s pricing models, so you should be extra careful with that.

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While it’s debatable whether Intelius is the best background check company, it sure is among the best known names in the business. The agency offers a solid service at affordable prices through monthly subscriptions and one-time fees for single reports. The results are pretty good, covering social media profiles and education history, among other things. The identity protection feature comes free with the subscription. If you’re in California, you can also opt out of the service and demand that the site doesn’t sell your information. Intelius reviews made by users often complain about the lack of transparency in the agency’s pricing models, so you should be extra careful with that.

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  • Interface - Good
  • Results - Good
  • Turnaround time - Excellent
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Excellent

4.

Instant Checkmate
  • Extensive results
  • Great criminal background searches
  • $1 trial mode
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Instant Checkmate is the best site for a criminal background check, offering extensive results and a couple of interesting features that will ensure your safety. Every search you make is encrypted and protected by an antivirus program. The interface is intuitive and simple to use with plenty of explanations every step of the way. The service is membership-based, with generous discounts for longer subscriptions and a $1 trial mode for the first five days. Considering the overwhelmingly positive reviews on the web, it would be a shame to miss out on what this agency has to offer.

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Instant Checkmate is the best site for a criminal background check, offering extensive results and a couple of interesting features that will ensure your safety. Every search you make is encrypted and protected by an antivirus program. The interface is intuitive and simple to use with plenty of explanations every step of the way. The service is membership-based, with generous discounts for longer subscriptions and a $1 trial mode for the first five days. Considering the overwhelmingly positive reviews on the web, it would be a shame to miss out on what this agency has to offer.

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  • Interface - Excellent
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Fair
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Good

5.

SmartMove
  • Specializes in tenant screening
  • Uses TransUnion data
  • Pricing transparency
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Some FCRA-compliant agencies specialize in specific fields. That’s why we’ve included SmartMove, which is often dubbed the best background check site for landlords. It gives you extensive results, credit reports provided by TransUnion, and a couple of great features that really make the entire process much easier. You can sign up for free and check out the prices before you decide on anything. The service lets you check someone’s credit score, read through possible eviction history, and identify criminal records. In the same way the service can be of use to landlords, it can also help renters build a good reputation without compromising their security or damaging their credit score.

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Some FCRA-compliant agencies specialize in specific fields. That’s why we’ve included SmartMove, which is often dubbed the best background check site for landlords. It gives you extensive results, credit reports provided by TransUnion, and a couple of great features that really make the entire process much easier. You can sign up for free and check out the prices before you decide on anything. The service lets you check someone’s credit score, read through possible eviction history, and identify criminal records. In the same way the service can be of use to landlords, it can also help renters build a good reputation without compromising their security or damaging their credit score.

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  • Interface - Good
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Good
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Good

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Our Methodology

To help us separate the wheat from the chaff and find the best background check service on the web, we’ve created a special methodology. Here are the five main factors you should consider when making your decision.

Interface

First of all, we have to take a look at the interface. There’s no point having a powerful search tool if the site layout is impossible to maneuver, unintuitive, and simply time-consuming. You want an interface that’s easy to use and logical. We check to see how long it takes to deliver results and how much clutter you have to go through to see it. Of course, it goes without saying that we expect the best website for background check to be bug-free and well-optimized. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at the loading screen after every click of the mouse.

Quality of the Results

This is what it’s all about - the results. Does the service simply google your requested information, or is the process much more intricate? What are the sources? How reliable are they? Is the database regularly updated, or are you always reading through obsolete data? Does the website offer only contact information, or will you also get potential criminal records, marital status, and working history? Agencies can sometimes be shy about their research methods, but usually the most extensive background check websites will gladly show off their skills.

Turnaround Time

How long do you have to wait to get the results? Are we talking minutes, hours, or days? The speed of these background checks often depends on the quality of the search engine, the design of the website, and the type of search. Basic contact information should be delivered in minutes, while more detailed pre-employment check-ups can last up to five days. While keeping all of this in mind, we still expect top background check companies to deliver ahead of schedule without compromising the quality of the service.

Unique Features

At this point, we’ve already determined that the agency we’re reviewing offers a good service. But is there something else that makes it stand out from the crowd? Are there any additional features or a special part of the package that makes the offer irresistible? This is where we pay tribute to the agencies that go an extra mile. Whether it’s the option of integrating the service with an HR program or the inclusion of identity protection, agencies that have a few aces up their sleeves deserve a mention in our reviews.

Price

Lastly, how much are you supposed to pay to get the best online background check? Is it a one-time fee, a subscription, or a combination of both? We support agencies that are transparent with their pricing plans and don’t rely on sneaky hidden fees. After all, there’s nothing worse than paying for a service only to be greeted by another paywall. You’ll find out in our reviews whether the price is worth the service or if you’re just getting ripped off way above the standard industry price.

Best Background Check Services 2020

  • 1. TruthFinder
  • 2. GoodHire
  • 3. Intelius
  • 4. Instant Checkmate
  • 5. SmartMove

Background Check Reviews - Top 5 Companies

Key Features
  • Interface - Good
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Good
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Excellent
Additional Features
  • Dark web scan
  • Optimized mobile app
  • On-site guidance

With more than 17 years of experience in the field, TruthFinder is still one of the most popular online services in the industry. It offers a reliable background search with some of the most accurate data you’ll find online. The interface is simple and user-friendly, with a good number of filters and search options. With a single subscription you get an unlimited number of reports, and you can set it all up through the well-optimized TruthFinder app. If you’re looking for the best background check site with solid sources and no hidden fees, this might be your perfect choice.

Like many other agencies in this niche, the TruthFinder website has a fairly simple, straightforward design. There’s a minimum amount of eye-candy with a fairly pleasant color scheme throughout the layout. You can start the People Search straight from the homepage or switch to a different type of service through the bar at the top. Almost every page on the site will give you detailed explanations so you can understand how it all works.

The basic background check usually takes a couple of minutes. During that time, you can answer a few more questions to help narrow down the results. At the end of the background check, the best results will be displayed at the very top with age, location, and possible relatives. Every item on the list will also include a likeliness match and an option to open the full report. This process will take another 10 minutes, after which you’ll be asked to sign up for an account and opt for a membership.

It should be mentioned that TruthFinder has one fairly annoying element in its interface that it shares with similar online services. Namely, you’ll often encounter clickbaity pop-ups and notifications warning you about the sensitive content you might see. While these scare tactics might be effective for some parts of its target audience, in most cases it just hurts the agency’s reputation as one of the best background check sites on the market.

One of the most interesting features TruthFinder has to offer is its dark web scan, powered by Experian. It notifies you if your personal information ends up on the dark web so that you can protect yourself from identity theft. The agency’s biggest flaw is probably the fact that you can’t perform a single background check. You have to choose one- or two-month memberships that cost $27.78 and $46.04 respectively. If you decide you want to unsubscribe from these background check services, you’ll need to contact the customer support team to ensure full TruthFinder opt out. Some users have mentioned this as a potential problem.

Key Features
  • Interface - Excellent
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Excellent
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Fair
Additional Features
  • Customizable software
  • Pre-integrated hiring tools
  • Numerous add-ons

In case you’re on the hunt for a reliable consumer reporting agency that can help you during the hiring process, GoodHire should be at the top of your list. It is a reliable US-based company founded back in 2013 that mainly focuses on small businesses. One of the main reasons why this is considered the best website for background checks of employees is the fact that it allows for batch processing. Integrate the software with your CRM and you’ve got a fast and easy pre-employment screening system in place.

From the outset, GoodHire’s website gives off a much more professional vibe than the average background check agency you might come across online. Everything is a lot more polished and clean. The registration process is basically a set of questions about your company and your yearly needs to help you pick the right package. It’s fast, direct, and as transparent as possible.

One thing you’ll immediately notice about GoodHire’s best background check service is the excellent user interface. The software is extremely easy to use and doesn’t require any special training. Whether you want to do a criminal background check or verify an individual’s work history, it’s all at your fingertips. The same can be said for the turnaround time – you’ll get your results in a fraction of the time most of the competition can manage. We have to mention the option of batch processing as an extremely useful feature for businesses that need to go through dozens of candidates at once.

GoodHire background check software leaves a lot of room for customization. You can use the software’s API to come up with a couple of different tools, containing only the elements you need. That way you don’t need to pay for the whole package, but simply pick the top background check options you need. This is quite a refreshing approach, as many other companies aim to sell you as many features as possible. 

The agency is pretty open about its prices – it offers three GoodHire pricing plans for businesses that need fewer than 25 checks per year. Anything over that number and you’ll have to talk to the support team to get a custom quote. The cheapest option is the basic one at $29.99 per report. It comes with a one-business-day turnaround and covers Social Security number trace, as well as searches through the national criminal database and sex offender registry. The best site for background check also includes dozens of add-ons like motor vehicle checks and drug screening, which you can pay for separately to create your perfect combination.

Key Features
  • Interface - Good
  • Results - Good
  • Turnaround time - Excellent
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Excellent
Additional Features
  • Identity protection
  • Reverse phone lookup
  • Intelius opt out option

Intelius is easily one of the most recognizable names in this niche, with more than 17 years of experience to back it up. Seeing as it is not a consumer reporting agency, you can’t use its results to screen your potential employees, but it will provide you with the best background check for dating at a decent price. The service is subscription-based, but Intelius also has an option for single reports, which is rather useful for casual users. With a good turnaround time and a couple of handy features, it’s easy to see why Intelius background check could be an excellent choice for you. Let’s see how it works.

As far as the site’s design is concerned, this agency doesn’t stray too far from the industry standard. It’s all fairly minimalistic, with the option to search via name, address, or phone directly from the homepage. The drop-down menu in the top bar gives you a few more specialized searches and information about customer support. Even the best sites for background checks don’t shy away from fake-looking animations during the search process. This is actually an opportunity to ask you a few more questions and narrow down the search.

Intelius people search results are pretty good, but if you want more details, you’ll need to opt for a full report. The reports cover contact information, data about family members, social media profiles, and any other public record available. Throughout the process, you’ll need to click a couple of affirmative buttons to give your consent to graphic content and the possibility of receiving some shocking info. As strange as it may seem, this clickbait practice is quite common among background check websites. It has angered dozens of users by creating a sense of danger and urgency when it’s essentially just a sneaky marketing trick.

The agency offers both a subscription-based service and single reports, so you can take your pick. Intelius Premier gives you unlimited background checks for a monthly fee of $19.95. The single people search option starts as low as $0.95 per search, which puts it miles above the competition. In their reviews, users have often complained about the unfair pricing system, where even a single search might unwittingly subscribe you to the service. At such a low price, there’s no doubt that Intelius is the best one-time background check solution, but make sure you always read the fine print.

Key Features
  • Interface - Excellent
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Fair
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Good
Additional Features
  • Criminal records by state
  • Inmate search
  • Crimewire blog

After a decade, Instant Checkmate still sits at the very top of the industry, with exceptional service and glowing user reviews. The site is well-optimized, so you can use the service from any device you want or make use of the excellent dedicated app for Android users. You get extensive results with a bit more emphasis on crimes and misdemeanors, which is why it’s often considered the best criminal background check software for casual users. Let’s dive in.

First of all, we have to mention the agency’s reputation, as it’s quite often its main selling point. It has an excellent A+ reputation with the BBB and an average score of 4.4 on Consumer Affairs, based on more than 150 Instant Checkmate reviews. In addition to that, the agency has managed to get a 4.0 rating on TrustPilot according to more than 200 positive reviews. We would say this is good enough to answer the question: Is Instant Checkmate a scam? No, it’s a trustworthy, reputable company and has plenty of ways to prove it.

The best background check site has to have a good, intuitive interface that easily responds to user’s demands. Instant Checkmate understands this, which is why you won’t have any problems finding your way around the site. Start the background check directly from the homepage knowing that your searches are protected with 128-bit encryption and Norton antivirus. The top bar lets you switch to people searching or dive into criminal records. 

If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll find links to other interesting features like the sex offender database or inmate search. Instant Checkmate, Inc. lets you search through arrest records or learn more from the Crimewire News blog. With all of these exceptional features, it’s pretty clear why this is the best criminal background check site out there. The reports are quite thorough, covering basic contact information, photographs, criminal records, financial situation, potential bankruptcies, and numerous other details. The site will even provide you with a detailed sample showing you everything that might appear on the report.

When it comes to price, Instant Checkmate also lacks a bit of transparency like many other agencies in this industry. The site will only show you the Instant Checkmate cost when you get your first results, and it might be custom-tailored to your search. In general, the one-month membership for the best online background check site will cost you $22.86. You can get various discounts if you subscribe for a longer period of time. For example, six-month membership will cost you just $9.86 a month. There is no Instant Checkmate free trial, but you can use the testing period of five days for just $1.

Key Features
  • Interface - Good
  • Results - Excellent
  • Turnaround time - Good
  • Customer support - Good
  • Price - Good
Additional Features
  • Billed to landlord or renter
  • Soft-pull checks
  • Huge eviction database

Landlords and tenants have a special professional arrangement that demands proper, legitimate channels when it comes to screening services. What is the best background check site landlords can safely use to look up their (potential) tenants? We would recommend TransUnion SmartMove. It is a FCRA-compliant consumer reporting agency with a good number of features and a transparent, straightforward pricing system. The reports can uncover the renter’s criminal background, eviction history, give you an insight into their income, or present you with a credit score. Here is what you need to know.

One of the best things about TU SmartMove is the fact that there are no hidden fees or dodgy deals. You’ll stumble upon the pricing table right at the start telling you exactly how much each package costs and what you’re getting for it. Besides that, the site dissects its best background check service, offering you an abundance of information about each feature. To start screening, you’ll need to create an account, free of charge. Interestingly, it is also possible to pass on the bill to the renter if they are willing to accept it.

The biggest item on the list is the credit check report provided by TransUnion. It’s a detailed account of the tenant’s financial state that doesn’t hurt their credit score. The document is formatted in a special way to make it easier for the landlords to read through it. SmartMove tenant screening is also the best site to check the criminal background of an individual through a simple and intuitive interface. The service also gives you access to a database of 27 million eviction records that help you figure out if your tenant is unreliable.

However, SmartMove TransUnion isn’t focused exclusively on landlords. The service is also recommended to renters because it increases their desirability when finding a place and ensures that their credit score won’t suffer. In a way, the agency acts as an intermediary, protecting both sides from misuse.

We mentioned prices at the very start of this review. So, how much do you have to pay to make use of the best background checks? The basic package will cost you $25 per screening and includes credit-based resident score and a national criminal background report. SmartCheck Plus for $38 per screening adds a full credit report to the bundle, as well as a national eviction report. The biggest package – called SmartCheck Premium – costs $40 and also includes information about the renter’s income.

FAQ

What websites do employers use for background checks?

Before they can do any background checks, employers need to make sure that they’re using reliable, FCRA-compliant agencies like GoodHire, Employment Screening Resources, or HireRight. Because the employer is legally required to notify the potential employee and ask for consent, many of these agencies will include this in their service. The best background check site for employers will do all the work for you while still going through the proper channels.

What is the best way to do a background check on someone?

The first and the easiest step is to google them yourself. There are many unreliable agencies on the web that will try to charge you money for doing essentially the same thing. You can avoid getting scammed by doing some basic research yourself using the biggest search engine out there. Where you go from there depends on your specific needs. If you’re looking for the best background check site for dating to find out who your potential partner is, you can hire any reputable background check agency. However, if you’re doing it for professional reasons like when you’re hiring someone or renting out your apartment, you need to follow the guidelines and use FCRA-compliant agencies.

Is there a totally free background check?

Most of what you’ll find using a free online service is no different than what you can find out yourself through a simple web search. These are either scam sites looking to earn profit from gullible internet users or a trial version showing you just a fragment of what it can do. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern one from the other. The bottom line is that even the best free background check site won’t give you the service you’re expecting.

Are online background checks reliable?

It really depends on the agency you choose to do the job. Background checks can be reliable if the information in the database is regularly updated and checked for accuracy. It is extremely important that the agency directly uses legitimate, official sources and doesn’t rely on circumstantial guesswork. If possible, try to learn more about the agency’s modus operandi before hiring. Legitimate businesses will rarely scurry away from showing you how it all works. In fact, they’ll proudly mention all of the trouble they had to go through to come up with the results. It’s their badge of honor.

What is the most reliable background check?

Truthfinder is often dubbed the best background check site because it gives you an unlimited number of reports and offers a user-friendly mobile app. However, Truthfinder is not a consumer reporting agency, so you can’t use its findings for business purposes. If you’re looking to do a screening of a future employee, you might try your luck with GoodHire, a reputable agency that specializes in this type of work. It is an FCRA-compliant service with a simple interface and a handful of great features.

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