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. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) has certain requirements for companies that do certain background checks, and you should use your own diligence to be sure that the company you are hiring complies with all relevant laws.
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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.
|Read 3059 Reviews|
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.
|Read 439 Reviews|
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.
|Read 10 Reviews|
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.
|Read 319 Reviews|
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.
|Read 15 Reviews|
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.
|Read 57 Reviews|
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.
|Read 130 Reviews|
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.
|Read 5 Reviews|
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.
What features matter most?
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.
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.
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 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.
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 was founded in 2003 as an information commerce company. The company is based in Bellevue, Washington.
- 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 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 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.
- Best for Landlords.
USSearch.com is an online People Search service. The company was founded in 1994, and it has served millions of people.
- Best for HR representatives at large companies, small business owners and people utilizing online dating sites.
Been Verified is a people search site based in New York, NY. It aggregates public records into an easy-to-read report.
- Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
PeopleSmart is an online search engine of public records, and it specializes in reuniting lost friends and family members.
- Best for HR representatives at large companies, small business owners (via GoodHire.com),, landlords and people utilizing online dating sites.
PeopleFinders is a Data-as-a-Service company based in Sacramento, CA. The company has been in operation since 1988.
- Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
KnowX is a background check company created in 1997. It provides customers with access to public records in the U.S.
- Best for People utilizing online dating sites.
BackgroundReport.com is a comprehensive online background check company. The company is based in Bellingham, WA.
- Best for HR representatives at large companies, small business owners, landlords,, and people utilizing online dating sites.
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.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
11 – 11 Best Rated Background Check Companies
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.