Background check companies do important 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.​ The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has certain requirements for companies that do certain background checks, and you should use your own diligence to ensure the company you are hiring complies with all relevant laws.

Top 10 Best Rated Background Check Companies

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.
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.
Established in 2007, BeenVerified has been offering affordable, accessible, and unlimited background checks anytime you want. With over 7,000,000 mobile downloads, BeenVerified is your go-to choice for public data access.
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.
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.
MyLife is a website offering a service for people concerned about information on their background reports. For a fee, MyLife monitors your background report and allows you to enhance or correct publicly available information.
CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions helps landlords find out critical information about their tenants. Reports include information such as rental history, criminal background and other relevant details for landlords.
Founded in 1994, USSearch.com is a people finder website based in Washington. Users purchase public record information including name, address, criminal records and more; fees vary depending on how much information you request.
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.

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 should be considered when hiring a background check company?

Credentials

Many background check companies are able to offer background screening services, and some have different official credentials than others. Understanding what these credentials are and why they matter can help you identify legitimate background check companies.

  • 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.
  • Unaccredited: Some background check companies don't have official credentials, but they are still able to run background checks on individuals. Note that these types of companies might have restrictions for when they can and cannot be used by individuals.
  • Contact information: There are several fake background check companies who are happy to take money from unknowing consumers. To make sure you are not involved in an illegitimate background check, verify that the address and contact information for the company is accurate and current.

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 to determine how likely they are to make payments. Landlords, lenders and insurance companies often request this type of screening. Some employers run this type of check as well.
  • Criminal background: Many background check companies research court, police and other records to determine whether the subject has a criminal history. Background check companies frequently use county and/or state records when conducting criminal background checks. They can also use federal records.
  • Driving records: Companies that hire drivers who need to have a clean record will request this type of check to learn about the candidate’s driving history and ensure their license is current.
  • Litigation records: Some companies may run a check on litigation records to determine how likely a job candidate or tenant is to file a lawsuit.
  • Drug testing: Many employers require drug testing for job candidates and employees.
  • Employment and education check: Many background checks include verification of a candidate’s employment and education history to ensure the candidate has all the qualifications required by their employer.

Targeted client

Background check companies aim their services at different client types. Knowing which type of client you are will help you narrow down your options to find the background check company that can best address your needs. Most background check companies have options for a range of needs. Because of legal implications, employers, landlords and 

  • Employers: Some background check companies target their services to employers researching potential employees. Note that employees cannot use information gained through background checks to discriminate against employees, and they must request the same types of background checks for every job candidate.
  • Landlords and property managers: Background check companies often target their business to landlords who run background checks on potential and current tenants. Note that landlords must adhere to the laws regulated by the FCRA and cannot use information learned from background checks to discriminate against potential tenants.
  • People hiring an in-home 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.

  • Strictly testing companies: Some background check companies simply run background checks and compile the results to give to people requesting the test. These companies generally are run fully online, making them accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
  • 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. Larger corporations that have a high number of job candidates going through background checking may want to utilize a full-service background check company.
  • Testing and consulting companies: Some background check companies run checks on candidates and offer advice to clients about how to interpret the results.

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 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.
  • Price by search volume: Many background check companies offer tiered pricing based on the number of searches required. Larger companies and those who will be asking for multiple background checks at one time will want to look into getting a volume discount.

What are different types of background check companies?

Household employee background check companies

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

Tenant background check companies

Tenant background check companies run background checks for landlords who want to screen 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 fast and immediate results.

Employment background check companies

There are specific laws employers need to follow when they run background checks on potential and current employees. Therefore, employers who want to research job candidates should work with a background check company that specializes in employment background checks.

Who uses background check companies?

HR representatives at large companies

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

Employers

Some background check companies target their services to employers researching potential employees. Employers should verify the background check company they use offers all the different types of background checks they need and follows federal and state laws.

Landlords and property managers

Background check companies can provide relevant financial and personal information before landlords or property managers agree to rent their property.

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.

Individuals

Individuals concerned about their own history may want to utilize a background check company to see what information shows up on their report. This can be useful to know before applying for employment.

Parents

Parents may want to use background check companies to find information on nearby sex offenders and research the criminal history of their children’s neighbors, coaches and/or friends’ parents.

Company reviews

  • Instant Checkmate

    Instant Checkmate searches public records to provide information about DUIs, arrests, driving convictions, sex offenses and other criminal records. Their services cannot be used for employment screening, including household workers or tenant screening. They also cannot be used to assess professional services or determine qualifications for education-related financial assistance, credit or insurance eligibility.

    • 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.
    • U.S.-based 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 use 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 parents, concerned citizens and people utilizing online dating sites.
  • Intelius

    Intelius was founded in 2003 as an information commerce company. They offer businesses cloud-based background check solutions that can be accessed on desktop and mobile devices.

    • Best for people using online dating sites, individuals, employers, those seeking in-home workers, landlords and parents.
  • Spokeo.com

    Spokeo operates as a search engine for people. Individuals and companies can use Spokeo and Spokeo Enterprise to find and validate people, including potential employees. They do not provide financial information, so users cannot use Spokeo to screen individuals for credit checks or insurance.

    • 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 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, which is a strong indication of Spokeo's success.
    • Spokeo Enterprise: Businesses looking for public records can utilize Spokeo Enterprise. This service delivers instant search results that can be shared with an entire team.
    • Best for parents, individuals and those using online dating sites.
  • CoreLogic SafeRent

    CoreLogic provides a variety of services related to the real estate industry, including background checks, property tax management, loan modification, foreclosure audits and more. CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions acts as an advisor for multifamily property owners, including offer screenings for potential tenants.

    • Best for landlords and property managers.
  • USSearch.com

    US Search offers several services, including people search, background checks, criminal record search, social network search, property record search and reverse phone lookup. Individual reports can be garnered instantly for under $3 each. US Search is not a Consumer Reporting Agency and should not be used to make decisions related to employment, tenant screening or other purposes outlined in the FCRA.

    • Best for individuals, HR representatives at large companies, employers 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. According to the laws of the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA), BeenVerified is not a consumer reporting agency. This means there a number of restrictions in the way you can use BeenVerified. Consumers are restricted from using BeenVerified for: employment screening, hiring of household workers, tenant screening, educational qualification, credit or insurance and business transactions initiated by an individual customer.

    • Best for parents, individuals and 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. They also offer reverse phone lookup and access to public records.

    • 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 that has access to public records on nearly every adult living in the United States. They also offer reverse phone lookup services and criminal record search. Based in Sacramento, California, the company has been in operation since 1988.

    • Best for parents, individuals and people utilizing online dating sites.
  • KnowX

    KnowX is a LexisNexis background check company that was created in 1997. It provides customers with access to public records in the U.S. They have options for individuals and businesses.

    • Best for employers, individuals and people utilizing online dating sites.
  • BackgroundReport.com

    BackgroundReport.com is a comprehensive online background check company based in Bellingham, Washington. Their reports do not include credit information or screening.

    • 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.

    • Best for businesses that need high-level background searches, companies that need to customize searches and businesses that have many international applicants.

11 – 12 Best Rated Background Check Companies

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.
NAPBS accredited Crimcheck.com offers a wide range of background check services, including criminal screening, drug tests, data checks and reference checks. Choose from five packages, depending on your industry and needs.