Employers frequently use background check companies to ensure their job candidates have a clean history. Landlords also use background check companies to verify their tenants’ ability to make rent payments on time. Background check companies do the work for employers and landlords by investigating the background and history of individuals and compiling easy-to-read reports.

Services offered by background check companies vary and can include searching criminal records, financial history, credit reports and driving records. Some background check companies also administer and analyze drug tests.​

Top 10 Best Rated Background Check Companies

Instant Checkmate offers background check services. Users can search a wide variety of databases, including state and federal records, to get information about themselves as well as their friends or relatives.
Spokeo is a service that provides White Pages listings, public records and social media information. This service is intended to help people who have lost touch to find one another again and reach out to restore relationships.
Intelius is a well-known background check service that allows people to do a reverse phone lookup. This service allows users to find out who owns a phone number and whether any public records are associated with that person.
PeopleFinders offers users the ability to search for public records by name, email address or phone number. It also offers special services for businesspeople who want to do a large number of background checks.
Been Verified offers an intuitive background check search for a low price. Users can find out what's in their own background checks as well as check out potential dates or eBay buyers prior to setting up a meeting.
CoreLogic SafeRent helps landlords find out critical information about the people they are renting to. Reports include information such as rental history, criminal background and other relevant details for landlords.
US Search is one of the better-known background check services. Users can search by name, phone number or address to find out what public records exist for a person and to get leads into items that may need more clarification.
PeopleSmart offers users a way to easily search for people by name, email address or phone number. With this service, users can connect with long-lost friends or relatives as well as conduct background searches.
KnowX allows users to quickly and easily run a background check by putting in a person's first and last name. With this service, users can also investigate property values prior to making real estate transactions.
BackgroundReport.com provides instant background reports online. In addition, people can sign up for background monitoring, which lets them know about any changes to the information in their background reports.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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What features matter most?

Credentials

Many background check companies are able to offer background screening services and some have different official credentials than others.

  • NAPBS members: Some background check companies are members of the National Association of Professional Screeners (NAPBS). This means the company complies with all the current rules and laws about background checks and is closely monitored.
  • Word-of-mouth reputation: Review sites like ConsumerAffairs.com offer word-of-mouth reviews from previous customers of background check companies. These reviews are a way to get an unbiased description of a company's reputation from someone who has experience working with them.
  • Unaccredited: Some background check companies don't have official credentials, but they are still able to run background checks on individuals.

Types of checks done

Background screening companies often differ from one another based on the kinds of background checks their company can perform.

  • Credit checks: Credit checks are run to determine a person's financial history and their credit-worthiness. Landlords, employers, lenders, and insurance companies often request this type of screening.
  • Criminal background: Many background check companies research court, police, and other records to determine whether the subject has a criminal history.
  • Driving records: Companies that run checks of driving records can discover things like the number of accidents and DUIs a person has had, and more.

Targeted client type

Background check companies aim their services at different client types.

  • Employers: Some background check companies target their services to employers researching potential employees.
  • Landlords and property managers: Background check companies often target their business to landlords who run background checks on potential and current tenants.
  • People hiring a nanny or housekeeper: Some background check companies specialize in running background checks on housekeepers, nannies and other household employees.

Range of services

Most background check companies run checks for clients, and some companies set themselves apart by offering additional services beyond simply running tests.

  • Strictly testing companies: Some background check companies simply run background checks and compile the results to give to people requesting the test.
  • Full-service companies: Full-service background check companies learn about a company's recruiting strategies and desired employee type, and they help a client understand test results and further develop a recruiting strategy.
  • Testing and consulting companies: Some background check companies run checks on candidates, and offer advice to clients about how to interpret the results and proceed.

Report Type

Background check companies deliver a large amount of information to clients after running checks, and they often vary from one another based on how they deliver this information and in what format.

  • Online reports: Some background check companies run checks online and provide online reports.
  • Printed reports: Background check companies that provide printed reports give clients hard, paper copies of the results they find in their tests.
  • In-person reports: Many full-service background check companies will provide clients with in-person updates about the results of screening, in addition to printed material.

Price

Fee amounts and types vary significantly between companies, often based on the types of checks done and the scope of services required.

  • Base price and fees: Some companies charge clients a base price for their services, in addition to fees for each individual report.
  • Flat fee companies: Flat fee background check companies offer comprehensive background services for one fixed price.
  • Custom fees: Some background check companies can come up with custom fees and payment plans for companies. These plans are particularly common for big companies that need to run background checks often.

What are different types of background check companies?

Household employee background check companies

Household employee background check companies provide background checks for people who are hoping to hire people to work in their households.

Tenant background check companies

Tenant background check companies run background checks for landlords who are looking to investigate potential tenants.

Comprehensive background check companies

Comprehensive Background Check companies run background checks on potential employees, and they offer full reports – including criminal history, driving history, credit history, and more – in their results.

Online background check companies

Online background check companies allow people to check the backgrounds of potential employees and tenants online, and they offer people with fast and immediate, if less comprehensive, results than full-service or specialized companies.

Who's it for?

HR representatives at large companies

HR representatives at large companies often use background check companies to look into new employees. Many HR representatives have close relationships with background check companies, if the employer has a large staff or experiences significant turnover.

Small business owners

Many small business owners use background check companies as well. Small businesses often need to utilize background check companies less frequently than big companies, because they hire fewer people less regularly.

Landlords

Landlords looking to rent a space they own to a prospective tenant or applicant may take advantage of background screening companies. Background check companies can provide relevant financial and personal information before landlords agree to rent to a stranger.

Individuals hiring domestic employees

People hiring an employee who will work in their home, such as nannies or housekeepers, might run a specialized background report to check on that employee's history. Specialized background check companies exist for domestic employers.

People utilizing online dating sites

People who use online dating sites can utilize background check services to learn more about their matches.

Company reviews

  • Instant Checkmate

    Instant Checkmate is considered a search engine for public records, and the company is headquartered in Las Vegas, NV.

    • Comprehensive checks: Instant Checkmate checks over 30 data points, which means they offer a wide range of information about the person under investigation.
    • Unlimited checks for a low fee: Instant Checkmate offers customers unlimited checks and reports for a low monthly fee.
    • Outstanding customer service: Instant Checkmate offers high-quality customer service to clients, via the Internet and the phone. The customer service representatives are all based in the United States, so they have a firm grasp of language and culture and can communicate easily.
    • Utilized by reputable clients: Reputable and trustworthy clients utilize and tout Instant Checkmate.
    • Three membership plans: Instant Checkmate offers three membership levels, so customers can choose how much they want to spend and how often they want to utilize the site.
    • Important Disclaimer: Unlike many “background check” web-based businesses, Instant Checkmate is not a “consumer reporting agency” and does not furnish “consumer reports” as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). This means that it is unlawful for consumers to use Instant Checkmate and the information it provides for (a) evaluating a person for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention (including employment of babysitters, nannies, cleaning personnel, gardeners or other contractors); (b) establishing a person's eligibility for personal credit, loans, insurance or assessing risks associated with existing consumer credit obligations; (c) evaluating a person in connection with leasing, renting or sale of a house, apartment or other dwelling; (d) evaluating a person for educational opportunities, scholarships or fellowships; or (e) any other purpose subject to FCRA. Any such use is strictly prohibited by Instant Checkmate and is strictly prohibited by federal law. Instant Checkmate further prohibits use of its site and the information it provides by businesses or other organizations. As a condition to use Instant Checkmate and the information it provides, a subscriber must expressly agree to these terms and must expressly agree that he or she is acting solely in his or her personal capacity for exclusively personal (i.e., non-business related) purposes.
    • Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
  • Intelius

    Intelius was founded in 2003 as an information commerce company. The company is based in Bellevue, Washington.

    • Specialized screenings: Intelius not only offers people screening options, but also specialized employee screenings, which allow employers to find all necessary information about potential candidates. The company also provides screening services for landlords and employers of nannies, as well.
    • Technologically advanced: Intelius is a cloud-based company, and they offer clients access to the site and their information via a desktop site and mobile application. This means customers can take advantage of services anywhere they have access to the Internet.
    • Community focus: In addition to providing background checks for customers, the company is also philanthropic and generous, donating dollars and time to community organizations.
    • SSN-based search: The company uses a SSN based search, which provides fast, accurate results.
    • Free trial offered: Intelius offers customers a free trial for seven days after sign-up, giving users a chance to test drive Intelius's services.
    • Important disclaimer: Intelius is not a consumer reporting agency as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), and the information in the Intelius databases has not been collected in whole or in part for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports, as defined in the FCRA. This means it is unlawful to use Intelius’s information as a factor in (1) establishing an individual's eligibility for personal credit or insurance or assessing risks associated with existing consumer credit obligations, (2) evaluating an individual for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention (including employment of household workers such as babysitters, cleaning personnel, nannies, contractors, and other individuals), or (3) any other personal business transaction with another individual (including, but not limited to, leasing an apartment).
    • Best for People using online dating sites, people who want to check the background of someone in their lives, and people who want to see what information shows up on their own background check.
  • Spokeo.com

    Spokeo is a company that was founded in 2006. The brainchild of a group of graduates of Stanford, the company is now based in Old Town Pasadena.

    • Commitment to reuniting people: The site touts its commitment to reuniting people who have lost track of one another, and there are many success stories from people who have used the site to find someone they haven't seen in a long time.
    • Easy-to-understand reports: The company provides clean, minimal results reports, which are easy to read and understand.
    • Various payment plan options: Spokeo offers many different payment plan options, allowing customers to pay only for the services they need and use.
    • All public data: Spokeo is dependable, ethical, and trustworthy, and it only uses information from public sources and anything on social media that has not been designated as private.
    • Growing: Spokeo is regularly growing and expanding, attracting new clients and hiring new employees - a strong indication of Spokeo's success.
    • Best for Those who want to check the background of someone in their life and those using online dating sites.
  • CoreLogic SafeRent

    CoreLogic is a background check company geared towards real estate professionals. CoreLogic's SafeRent program acts as an advisor for multifamily property owners, including offer screenings for potential tenants.

    • Eco-friendly: CoreLogic SafeRent is an eco-friendly, completely paper-free program. SafeRent provides property managers and multifamily housing property owners paper-free solutions for everything from background reports to tenant applications.
    • Convenience with cloud-based technology: CoreLogic SafeRent uses cloud technology to store and share data, so clients can access their information from anywhere.
    • Range of services: CoreLogic SafeRent not only runs background checks on potential renters, it also provides leasing solutions, renter's insurance, and a range of services for property managers.
    • Customer service options: CoreLogic SafeRent offers clients many convenient customer service options, including phone-based, online, and snail mail, so landlords can get in touch with the company in the way that is most convenient for them.
    • Speed: Because the tenant screening is completed online, the results can be returned to landlords in a matter of minutes.
    • Best for Landlords.
  • USSearch.com

    USSearch.com is an online People Search service. The company was founded in 1994, and it has served millions of people.

    • Instant results: People who run background checks on USSearch.com can get the results of their checks instantly. Results are delivered online.
    • Regularly updated information: People move regularly, and USSearch.com updates regularly to ensure the information shared is as recent as possible.
    • Range of services offered: Customers utilizing USSearch.com can take advantage of a range of services. The site includes things like criminal background, reverse phone lookup, background check, property records, social networks search and more.
    • Time in business: USSearch.com has been in business and providing people with information for a long time. They have been operating for more than two decades and developed a reputation for accuracy and dependability.
    • Many success stories: Many people have reported success locating lost people using USSearch.com.
    • Best for HR representatives at large companies, small business owners and people utilizing online dating sites.
  • BeenVerified

    Been Verified is a people search site based in New York, NY. It aggregates public records into an easy-to-read report.

    • Affordable plan options: BeenVerified is one of the most affordable People Search services available. The company offers plans starting at $10 per month.
    • Instant result reports: BeenVerified offers several services that can offer results to customers within a few seconds.
    • In-person researchers: For records that cannot be accessed online, BeenVerified employs in-person researchers who can go to places where public records are kept and gather information to report to clients.
    • Seven-day customer service: BeenVerified offers customer support representatives every day of the week to assist customers who need help.
    • Clear guidelines: The rules regarding running background checks can be complicated and fuzzy, but BeenVerified offers clear guidelines, illustrated with cartoons, about what the site can be used for and what it cannot be used for.
    • Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
  • PeopleSmart

    PeopleSmart is an online search engine of public records, and it specializes in reuniting lost friends and family members.

    • FCRA-compliant background checks via GoodHire: PeopleSmart offers background check services specifically for employers via GoodHire.com. The checks are FCRA-compliant.
    • Additional services: In addition to background checks and employer screenings, PeopleSmart also partners with IdentitySmart to offer an identity management tool helping people protect their identities and manage their online reputation.
    • Focus on privacy: PeopleSmart offers a section of its website dedicated to educating customers about privacy so they can more easily understand how to use the information they find.
    • Search services: PeopleSmart allows customers to look up other people via various modes of communication, including name, city, phone number, e-mail, address, and more.
    • Best for HR representatives at large companies, small business owners (via GoodHire.com),, landlords and people utilizing online dating sites.
  • PeopleFinders.com

    PeopleFinders is a Data-as-a-Service company based in Sacramento, CA. The company has been in operation since 1988.

    • Free preview: Clients who are interested in using the service can test it out before they pay. The company offers a Free 4-Step Preview, which lets people enter the name of the person they're looking for and then view the list of results to see if their person appears. Clients must then pay to access customer contact information.
    • Social media searches: PeopleFinders.com includes a nearly instant social media search, which can return all public and free results from peoples' social media sites, including blogs, online bios, and videos.
    • Rewards program: The PeopleFinders Rewards program Is a program customers can sign up for to receive 20 percent discounts on all premium reports, $1 background reports, and a free family safety map, and more.
    • Automatic renewal services: PeopleFinders offers customers the option of having their plan automatically renewed, so they don't have to make payments each month. Customers are initially given the option of opting into auto-renewal and their choice can be updated at any time.
    • Many success stories: PeopleFinders collects true success stories of people who have located people via their site, and they are available read on the company's website.
    • Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
  • KnowX

    KnowX is a background check company created in 1997. It provides customers with access to public records in the U.S.

    • OFAC list check: KnowX offers the ability to check the OFAC List, which can help people identify terrorism suspects, potential drug traffickers, and more.
    • Range of subscription options: KnowX offers clients a variety of subscription options and payment plans, which offer customers different numbers of checks and access to the site based on the amount they pay.
    • Simple to use: KnowX offers a minimalist, clean and simple website that is easy for customers to use as any traditional search engine.
    • Customer service options: Customers of KnowX have several convenient customer service options, which makes using the site easy. KnowX has an online FAQ, an e-mail help function, an online customer service chat, as well as phone support.
    • Reputation: KnowX has been in business for nearly two decades, which means it has a successful reputation for providing public records and background information.
    • Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
  • BackgroundReport.com

    BackgroundReport.com is a comprehensive online background check company. The company is based in Bellingham, WA.

    • Background monitoring services: Customers of BackgroundReport.com can take advantage not only of background checks but also background monitoring services, which continue to screen candidates over time.
    • Instant access: Most of the background check results from BackgroundReport.com can be delivered instantly via digital reports.
    • International background reports: Background Report.com offers background reports of people in various countries, rather than simply across the U.S.
    • U.S.-based customer service: The customer service team at Background Report.com is based in the United States. This means they have a firm grasp of the English language and the U.S. regarding background checks.
    • Additional checks offered: In addition to regular background and criminal checks, the site offers more specialized background checks. These checks include a Social Security Number trace, the OFAC/Patriot Act Terrorist Watch List Check, and a check of the sex offender registry.
    • Best for HR representatives at large companies, small business owners, landlords,, and people utilizing online dating sites.
  • Crimcheck.com

    The Level I package at pre-employment screening specialist Crimcheck.com includes a Social Security number search and a criminal records trace. The company also specializes in due diligence screening, as well as vendor and contractor screening. Its clients have the ability to customize their searches, and Crimcheck.com is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.

    • Recommended services: For businesses not sure where to start, Crimcheck.com lists recommended services such as education verification and a motor vehicle report, especially for hourly workers; its level-five services are tailored toward executive-level applicants.
    • eFetch ease: Batch order processing, with a minimum requirement of five applicants, is particularly useful for audits, schools and camps.
    • Global reach: Crimcheck.com has the tools to investigate records in many countries, not just the United States.
    • Executive summary report: Companies see at an upfront glance whether a candidate passed or failed checks, and where the passes and fails occurred.
    • Verification: Crimcheck.com verifies the accuracy of all information, gets data directly from criminal courts and performs criminal searches at city and county levels.
    • Best for Businesses that need high-level background searches, companies that need to customize searches and businesses that have many international applicants.

11 – 11 Best Rated Background Check Companies