Instant Checkmate (opens in new tab) is a people search finder (opens in new tab) that aggregates data from public records. The service is simple to use and offers a wide range of information, including contact details and criminal records. Results aren’t instantaneous and the service prompts you with a lot of questions and warnings before delivering a report, which can be more than annoying. However, the site is worth a look with a claim of over 1.4 billion searches and counting!
- Want to try Instant Checkmate? Checkout the website here (opens in new tab)
In our Instant Checkmate review, we’ll help you decide whether this is the best tool for running a background check or people search.
Plans and pricing
Instant Checkmate only offers subscriptions for unlimited reports. One month costs $35.12, or you can sign up for three months for $28.09 per month when you prepay $84.28 at once. There is no option to just buy one report for a single individual, but we did get a “Trial offer” for just $1, but it is not clear if that included additional searches beyond just the one that we performed, or the length of the trial.
Instant Checkmate enables you to search for someone based on just their name, city, and state. There’s also a reverse phone lookup feature, although this is somewhat hard to find on the Instant Checkmate website as it is all the way on the bottom of the page between “Do’s and Don’ts,” and “Become an affiliate,” which hardly makes much sense. When you run a search, you’re presented with a list of potential matches and you can pull a detailed report for any individual.
The service only checks public records, so there’s no information available through Instant Checkmate that you can’t get elsewhere. However, the platform does cast a wide net and includes details about properties, vehicles past address, family members, marriages, and bankruptcies in its reports. The tool will also tell you if the individual you’re searching is a registered sex offender, if they hold a gun license, or if they have any criminal, arrest, or traffic records.
It’s important to note that Instant Checkmate is not compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. So, you cannot legally use this service for conducting a background check (opens in new tab) for employment or rental applications.
Interface and in use
Using Instant Checkmate wasn’t nearly as simple as we would have liked. Getting started with a search is easy - just enter the information you know about your subject in the search bar on the company’s homepage. You’ll be prompted with several pop-ups that ask you details about the person you’re searching to help refine your results. These include the gender of the individual searched for, and other known relatives.
Along the way, there are multiple stops that indicate that graphic content may be revealed, and have you check the box. This happens multiple times during the search. Call us suspicious, but we postulate that this is done to build up the search, and get users more invested in it- both emotionally and time wise- so that they will pay when finally the pricing is revealed.
After those pop-ups come more pop-ups, though. These warn you about the graphic details you might uncover in an Instant Checkmate report in a way that’s overhyped and annoying. It might be okay if there was just one warning, but we encountered more than five such pop-ups before we were ultimately able to view a report.
It’s also worth noting that in the middle of all this clicking through pop-ups, Instant Checkmate essentially stopped working. The report never loaded, and we had to start the process from the beginning. (It worked the second time around.) We also had to enter our name and email address to proceed before we saw any data from our search, and had to agree to receive Instant Checkmate’s emails (which promptly arrived the next day, and would have undoubtedly kept coming often without a doubt if we did not promptly unsubscribe, which at least was easy to do).
Things get better once you finally arrive at a report. We found that the information we looked at was largely accurate, although there was an occasional inaccuracy around past addresses and licenses. Criminal records are given a likelihood score, which was a nice reminder that Instant Checkmate isn’t guaranteed to be correct.
Instant Checkmate has an Android app, but not an iOS app, which is a miss to not include the other popular smartphone platform. Users in the Google Play Store give it high marks with a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars with praise for the ease of use, and accuracy of the data, with the occasional frustration on logging in, and the lack of depth of info found.
Instant Checkmate offers support by phone and email from 10 am to 10 pm Eastern Monday to Friday. If you’re having trouble signing up for the service or finding a report, you can turn to the online help center for tutorial videos and answers to common questions. One thing we liked is that it’s easy to cancel your Instant Checkmate subscription at any time.
We also would have preferred some other support options. We did not find an option to email, to chat, nor a support portal.
It’s also worth noting that Instant Checkmate makes it easy to remove yourself from its search database. Most other ‘People search’ tools hide this option, but it’s right in the footer on the Instant Checkmate website. Typically, your data is removed within two days after you submit an opt-out request.
Instant Checkmate’s website is secured with Norton Symantec and all payment data is transferred using 256-bit encryption. Since all of the data on the site is available through public records, there’s relatively little emphasis on keeping reports secure. The connection is also a secure SSL (opens in new tab) connection that uses “A private and safe 128-bit encrypted connection.”
Instant Checkmate is one of the more reliable people search tools available. However, it’s a bit pricey compared to competitors like US Search (opens in new tab). US Search costs just $19.86 per month for unlimited reports. We’d recommend Instant Checkmate if you can afford it, though, since we found the information to be much more accurate than what you get with US Search.
If you need a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant background check, consider another service like GoodHire (opens in new tab) or Checkr (opens in new tab). Both of these platforms are significantly more expensive and charge on a per-search basis, but the data can be used for employment and rental application decisions.
Instant Checkmate is an affordable people search finder that provides relatively accurate information. One of the best things about this service is that you get a huge range of data compared to similar search tools. Running a search with Instant Checkmate is quite frustrating since you have to click through more than a dozen pop-ups before you can see the final report- even as a paying subscriber. For those that can overlook this uber annoying flaw though, Instant Checkmate is otherwise relatively easy to use with comprehensive results.