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Best background check services in 2021: Personal and business

background check services
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PRICE
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best background check services allow you to simply and easily verify someone's identity and provide useful information on that person.

Background check services are different to credit checks and police checks in that they simply use public (or sometimes even private) databases to look up information on one or more named persons.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to run such a check, and these products also allow you to search for family or friends you've lost contact with; or indeed you may even want to simply see what data has been made available on you.

However, you can use these background check services to go further and look for information relating to real estate, businesses, or just to look up who might have called you when you didn't recognize their number.

The best thing about these sort of checks is that they are simple and easy to do, and there's no public record of who was searching or who was searched, so there is no harm at all in using such services.

The main negative about these background information check services is that they do tend to be limited, and if you want more than just names, addresses, and telephone numbers, you will need something like a paid-for employee background check service.

In the meantime, these are the best services you can use.

Best background check services at a glance

  1. Intelius
  2. TruthFinder
  3. Instant Checkmate
  4. US Search
  5. PeopleFinders
  6. BeenVerified

(Image credit: Intelius)

1. Intelius

All the essentials plus education

Reasons to buy
+Includes education+Useful visualisations+Subscription and single-report options
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively expensive-Reports aren’t downloadable

Intelius’s background checks are more exhaustive than many. In addition to the usual addresses, criminal history and financial information, it also includes educational history – useful data if you’re trying to use Intelius to get in touch with someone from your past.

We also like the way Intelius shows connections as a graph, making it easy to see how things are related. There’s also a monthly subscription option and with the quality on show from Intelius, it should be worth the expense.

(Image credit: TruthFinder)

2. TruthFinder

A great option for those looking to perform frequent checks

Reasons to buy
+Unlimited background checks+Self-monitoring tools+Impressive people finding capabilities
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap

TruthFinder offers a range of different background check features covering both public and private databases, and the likes of self-monitoring tools – so you can see what other people might find out about you.

Its skills as a people finder platform are impressive, and TruthFinder provides a wealth of information on the person you’re searching for. Another major strength here is the ability to complete unlimited background checks. The main downside is it isn’t a cheap service, but if you’re going to use TruthFinder a lot, it’ll certainly be worth the outlay.

(Image credit: Instant Checkmate)

3. Instant Checkmate

An affordable all-rounder

Reasons to buy
+Good value for money+Accurate and timely data+Great search tools
Reasons to avoid
-Downloading costs -No single-report option-Inconsistent phone data

We’re not sure where the Instant bit of the name comes from: performing a single search took us 10 minutes of incredibly slow progress bars and warnings of “surprising details” and “graphic content”, which seemed a bit unnecessary.

The slow progress bars are horribly reminiscent of ticket resale sites, but unlike that industry the Instant Checkmate prices aren’t horrifying. Pricing comes in two main package options for a single month of unlimited reports, or the option for three months of unlimited reports.

(Image credit: US Search)

4. US Search

Simple, comprehensive and relatively affordable

Reasons to buy
+Affordable reporting+Good search options+Up-to-date data
Reasons to avoid
-No-frills website-Marriage data not always available

In addition to background checks, US Search enables you to travel back in time: the site looks and feels like Yahoo circa 1998. But the lack of web design budget appears to mean that US Search has been able to invest more in thorough search options and excellent price points.

There are various pricing options available, starting with a single report cost, or a monthly subscription available for unlimited searches, or a quarterly package for the same but with a $10 discount.

It may not be pretty, but it’s certainly pretty good value for money, not to mention a robust background check solution.

(Image credit: PeopleFinders)

5. PeopleFinders

Good value where it’s available

Reasons to buy
+Affordable, comprehensive reporting+Uncovers data some rivals don’t+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-No social media data

PeopleFinders is, as the name makes clear enough, a people finder service, and it does a very good job of this. We found its service comprehensive and it uncovered some data that rivals didn’t. For example, PeopleFinders told us about a company owned by one of our targets that other sites didn’t report.

It’s not so good on internet stuff, though, as it lacks social media data, and the website can't be accessed outside of the US. It’s one of the most affordable options, though, if you need to use it over a longer period of time.

(Image credit: BeenVerified)

6. BeenVerified

Good, affordable and accurate

Reasons to buy
+Superb for work history+Affordable subscriptions+Accurate data
Reasons to avoid
-Some data costs extra-Background checks require subscription

BeenVerified covers the usual essentials, but we found it particularly good at uncovering employment history. It doesn’t include property or business assets – that’s an optional extra – and there’s no option for individual reporting. But for a package that does all the basics right, BeenVerified is a fine choice.

You can choose between a recurring 1-month subscription, or pay for 3-months. The results are solid and the subscription fees aren’t too expensive - just what we like from a background check service.

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(Image credit: Image Credit: Rawpixel / Pexels)

Best employee background check services

Employee background checks are an increasingly normal part of the hiring process. While it used to be the case that only references were required to confirm a person's identity and good-standing, nowadays an employer will commonly also want to be aware of any records of criminal behavior, financial irregularities, or even history of drug use. This is all on top of mandatory Form I-9 immigration and eligibility checks.

However, getting the right information isn't always as easy as it sounds. Everything is dependent on background checking companies having access to the necessary data, and ensuring it is correct. Additionally, while it may be easier to get records from one state, it can become more of a challenge for providers to collate data from across the country, and even from abroad, where required.

This is why choosing the right company for making employee background checks is essential, because if the provider cannot produce the records required with the accuracy needed, this can result in risks to both the employer and employees. With that in mind, we've picked out the best employee background check companies for you right here.

Best employee background checks at a glance

  1. Universal Background Screening
  2. People Trail
  3. GoodHire
  4. EBI Inc
  5. Sterling

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(Image credit: Universal Background)

1. Universal Background Screening

Fully accredited background checks

Reasons to buy
+Wide variety of checks available+County, state, and federal checks+NAPBS accredited

Universal Background Screening provides comprehensive employment checks at the county, state, and federal levels, using a combination of government and industry-specific databases. Key checks available include criminal records, employment history, as well as education, and professional accreditation records. Drug testing records, income, and Form I-9 compliance can also be verified.

Inquiries can be made directly through a client portal on the company website, and results are usually provided within two days for criminal checks, or up to three days for other forms of verification. However, there's also the option for ATS and HRIS integration within your HR department, where supported. A wide number of industry checks are available.

Universal Background Screening is an accredited member of National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Checks are fully compliant with state and federal legislation, as well as follow industry best practices for the protection of employers and clients.

Fees vary according to the background checks actually required, so will you need to contact Universal Background Screening for a quote according to your needs.

(Image credit: People Trail)

2. People Trail

Background checks with human guidance

Reasons to buy
+Wide range of industries+Accredited & compliant+Human guidance

People Trail is an NAPBS accredited provider of compliant background checks for employers, covering the areas of criminal records, identity verification, credit records, drug screening, credentials and education. 

The criminal records check can include felonies and misdemeanors and even traffic offenses as required, at the county, state, and federal level as needed. Civil court case records can also be included in any search of court databases.

The company is able to provide checks to the specific requirements of different industries, not least construction, education, finance, government, healthcare, and retail. Background checks provided can be as targeted or as comprehensive as required, and People Trail emphasizes that they provide human guidance to ensure the right areas for information are checked.

Pricing will vary according to the range and depth of any background checks made, so you will need to contact People Trail for a quote.

(Image credit: GoodHire)

3. GoodHire

Data-powered background checks

Reasons to buy
+Search records directly+Mobile-friendly platform+Low dispute rate

GoodHire is another major provider of employee background checks, covering standard areas such as criminal convictions, credit checks, drug screening, and identity verification. 

The company covers a wide range of industries with specific background check needs, not least construction, healthcare, retail, and technology companies.

Where GoodHire differs from other providers is that it stores a lot of data for popular searches, and can provide this through a mobile-friendly platform for customers to carry out their own background checks. 

While some, not least a search of criminal or civil convictions, may still take a couple of days, for other more centralized data such as identify verification turnaround can be instant. Even better, compliance filters result in a dispute rate advertised as low of less than 0.03%.

(Image credit: EBI Inc)

4. EBI Inc

The global background check service

Reasons to buy
+NAPBS accredited+ATS, HRIS, HCM integrations+Global search options

Employment Background Investigations Inc. (EBI Inc) is another large provider of employment background checks, covering the key areas of criminal record checks, Form I-9 verification, drug testing, occupational health, as well as basic identity checks. The company also provides smart integration for use of its data using ATS, HRIS or HCM software, and an API for your own custom integration.

As with other providers, it covers a range of key industry which have compliance demands, not least transportation, education, healthcare, hospitality, and retail. They can also provide tailored solutions for small business, enterprise screening, as well as extended workforce screening to cover contractors and other third-party labor.

The customer portal allows customers to select which checks to actually perform, guided by EBI staff, and while most searches will be at the county, state, or national level, there are also options to perform global checks, where databases and information accuracy allows.

EBI also provides a number of online resources, such as online webinars and free ebook guides. As with most other companies, EBI charge according to the range and depth of services required rather than a flat-fee.

(Image credit: Sterling)

5. Sterling

Background checks for large firms and SMBs

Reasons to buy
+Big brand screening+NAPBS accredited+Small business packages

Sterling is another major provider of employee background checks, covering main areas of criminal and civil court checks, identity verification, drug and health screening, as well as workforce monitoring. They also offer to provide global checks, as well as social media searches, to ensure you hire employees you can trust. The company is NAPBS accredited and a member of the ASA.

The company works with a wide range of industries, not least construction, utilities, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and transportation. Sterling also offers specific services for small and medium sized businesses.

Although the company provides screening for major brands and agencies, Sterling also provides a number of packaged solutions for small businesses in order to make background checking services more accessible and affordable. These small business packages have flat-fee pricing, and cost varying according to the depth and breadth of search required.

However, for most clients a more custom approach to employee background checks will be required and therefore will need to contact Sterling directly for a quote.