We live in a data-driven world; everyone from Internet Service Providers to law enforcement to potential employers and more have access to mountains of personal data, which has been systematically collected by various means. But, there’s no reason they should be the only ones with this advantage.
With the right background checking service and a little know-how, you’ll be able to run an advanced background check on your new neighbor, a suspicious coworker, or even yourself to see if anything might spoil an important upcoming interview.
But with so many providers advertising their service as the very best on the market, it can be hard to know who to trust. Most only go as far as checking someone’s identity, past convictions, credit history, and a few other low-hanging fruit; others won’t go far beyond what a simple Google search can tell you. Today, we’ll go over the difference between run-of-the-mill inquiries and truly comprehensive background checks, present some of the most important criteria in selecting a search provider, go over the legalities of such checks, and make a few recommendations for our favorite services.
What makes a great background checking service?
If you want to carry out an advanced background check, keep the following features in mind before picking a service provider.
- Research depth – for an advanced background check, it’s not enough to look someone up using Google and other basic services. You want to access things like deep web data, criminal records, gun licenses, and more. Look for top providers who conduct deep searches covering items like these.
- Report presentation and accuracy – quality reports should have accurate information, presented in a straightforward, easy-to-read manner. See customer testimonials and past samples to make sure a provider is solid in this department.
- Result speed – an advanced check doesn’t have to take long. Avoid providers who ask for weeks or months to conduct their checks; more often than not, they’re slowing down a process that doesn’t have to be slow at all.
- Custom searches – being able to personalize your searches lets you find the specific information you want quickly and easily. Try to avoid providers that force information you don’t want into your reports and searches.
- Mobile apps – a mobile app makes it so you don’t have to print out your search results or any information you want to highlight. Quality services offer apps for iOS, Android, or both. At the very least, make sure that the service you choose has a quality responsive website that replicates the look and feel of an app.
- Customer support – it can be hard to figure out how any online service works. Quality customer support will help you make sense of your service if you get lost and make sure you get the search results you need, when you need them, quickly. Live support is best.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about some of the specific services on our list!
BeenVerified is one of the oldest and most trusted background check services on the web. It’s intuitive and easy to use; the desktop website’s dashboard is clean and user-friendly, making searches easy. This includes custom searches wherein users can choose the exact data they want to find in just seconds. For mobile users, native Android and iOS apps offering the same functionality are available. There’s even a mobile website that’s responsive, sleek and fun to use. All in all, the service is a delight to use – and if you do find that you need some help, customer support is available during work hours as well as extended hours. As far as basics go, BeenVerified’s hard to beat.
In terms of the actual results, BeenVerified offers a two-tiered service. On the basic level, you get a lot of the information that’s required for any background search. This includes criminal records, financial records, social media information, as well as all kinds of publically available information. In some cases, this will be enough to conduct an advanced search. If you do want more data, you can use the premium tier to access gun records, physical court archives, and more. This also gives you access to runners who go and pull data from physical documents around the country: a rare, valuable service that can reveal otherwise hidden information. All in all, BeenVerified is our #1 overall service so long as you can afford the premium options you need.
TruthFinder is another two-tier service. On a basic level, it pulls information from multiple sources to reveal criminal records, driving records, contact details, possible photos, as well as information about known friends and acquaintances. This lets you build a foundation for your advanced search – and in some cases gives you enough data for the report you need. For a reasonable premium, you can expand the results you get to include education history, voter records, weapon licenses, and professional licenses. Perhaps the best part is that you can also pay extra to have TruthFinder scrape the dark web for data. This reveals data points that are usually invisible to Google and human users, revealing information that’d otherwise be impossible to find.
As far as usability goes, TruthFinder has a wonderful online dashboard and Android app. Both are streamlined, easy to use, and put all the key features you need a click away from the page you’re using. The reports are also elegantly presented and to the point, with all the information you need always a click away. If you’re an iOS user, don’t worry; the responsive mobile website is almost as good as a native app, letting you search and view reports using a simple mobile dashboard. Last but not least, TruthFinder’s customer support is simply outstanding, with 24/7 support from knowledgeable operators available anytime you need it.
Instant CheckMate gathers information from dozens of sources to give you a collection of data ranging from basic to advanced. There are two pricing tiers: basic and advanced. Paying the basic rate, you can view publically available information including known associates and relatives, prior addresses, social media profiles, possible photos, and criminal records. In a lot of cases, this is enough to give an advanced report. When it’s not, you can pay extra to pull up things like financial history, credit ratings, driving licenses, and gun licenses. Finding out many of these is inexpensive, so don’t be put off by the “paying extra” bit (which is standard in the industry).
The service is easy to use for several reasons. First, current and past searches are ready to execute and manage from the dashboard. No IT skills are required; even a beginner will be able to make sense of Instant CheckMate’s interface in a number of minutes. The same applies to the stylish, intuitive ICM app where everything you need is always a click away. iOS users don’t get an app – but the mobile website is so well-designed that this doesn’t matter much. Reports can be easily saved into your smartphone or tablet, as well as printed or sent by e-mail. Last but not least, customer support is available 24/7, meaning you can get the help you need, when you need it, no matter where you happen to be at the moment. The best part is that it’s toll-free inside the US, meaning you pay nothing extra to use it.
The last entry on our list is Intelius. This service has served well over 110 million reports to over 13 million users, so you know it’s got a worthy track record. Intelius reveals gun licenses, criminal records, financial history data points, sex offender registrations, property records, and more. All of this makes it easy to create a single, comprehensive report that presents all the necessary data in an easy-to-read, easy-to-scan layout that packs a lot of information.
One of Intelius’s selling points is its website design. The dashboard is quick to load and easy to use, even for novice-level users. Everything is instantly legible and making the exact search you had in mind is straightforward. The same applies to the Android and iOS apps. They’re a little more sparse in features, but they more than make up for it by giving you the ability to execute searches and store reports on your phone. Given that many background check services only have apps for one device or the other, this can be a big difference-maker. Last but not least, customer support is fast, knowledgeable, friendly, and available 24/7; yet another reason to consider Intelius when looking for a background check provider.
Why do an advanced background check?
The reasons justifying the effort of running an advanced background check are as varied as their specific use-cases, but it all boils down to a single important concept: confidence. Whether you suspect your neighbor of being a criminal, your coworker of being a creep, or even yourself of having something hiding on your permanent record, you don’t want to rely on guesswork in making your decisions. After all, making an assertion about someone’s character based on false or incomplete information opens you up to retaliatory litigation and, in extreme cases, physical harm.
Advanced background checks make sure you can draw from the optimal number of data sources in order to cobble together a more complete picture of someone’s life and history. While you could attempt to handle all of this yourself, digging through various public archives is immensely time consuming. Professional background checking services have made the deals and inroads with all the appropriate archives and agencies so as to make short, efficient work of even the deepest-digging background search. In summary, advanced background checking services equip you with a breadth of data, present it to you in a meaningful format, and allow you to make more confident decisions without spending excessive amounts of time combing through archives by hand.
How are advanced checks different from regular ones?
Most background checking services focus on specific staple information. Landlords will check in on their prospective tenants’ rental history, schools will look at an applicant’s academic record and high-profile accomplishments, while employers will zoom out a bit to include criminal history in addition to employment verification.
An advanced report is a little different. It contains all of the above information, but it goes above and beyond. It can pull up licenses; the two looked for most often are gun licenses and professional licenses, e.g. medical and bar. It can find financial histories, including credit ratings. Perhaps most importantly, a quality advance check can go well beyond the regular Internet. For example, it can scour the dark web, where most users can’t even go, and find all kinds of data that’s usually completely hidden. In addition to that, an advanced background check can involve a P.I. looking for information in the physical world, or at least a runner going to court to collect printed documents on your behalf.
A more complete list of factors uncovered by advanced background checks includes:
- Subject’s full name and contact details
- Previous addresses
- Marriage, family, and relationship details
- Employment records
- Financial records
- Criminal and court records
- Records of any military service
- Driving records
- Details of any licenses held
- Any information posted publicly on the internet or social media sites
How to prepare for an advanced background check
It’s not difficult to use a paid service in order to run an advanced background check to get a baseline of information. But in order to dig deep, you’ll want to make preparations in order to better narrow your search, and to give the results a clearer context. Here’s how to get started:
Collect everything you already know into one document
Even if you feel you know relatively little about someone, every little detail can help shed light on a greater truth. Plus, you may actually know more than you think you do. Towards this end, you’ll want to sit down with pen and paper or at a computer keyboard to compile all the data points you already know. Doing this may allow you recognize patterns as they appear, which might just job your memory to uncover even more information.
Remember, background checking sites do better the more information they have to start with. We recommend you come prepared with some or all of the following:
- Full name
- Known aliases
- Place and date of birth
- Contact details, past or present
- Names and details of any immediate family
- Education and employment history
If you can’t come up with many of these, don’t fret. If you went with one of our recommended background checking services, you’ll still be able to uncover something useful even with scant starting data.
Check out what Google and social media searches have to offer
With the data you collected in the previous steps, it’s possible to use the power of online search via Google, Facebook, or other popular platforms to make some startling discoveries. After all, you should never underestimate just how much data people share of themselves only, either consciously or unconsciously. Other popular sites are LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr and even SnapChat; check one, check them all until you find what you need.
You’ll get your best results by combining the data points above in different configurations. This is especially true if your search subject has a particularly common name. Don’t get discouraged, however, if more specific searches yield little to nothing. That’s precisely the gap advanced background checking services seek to bridge, and they’re readily accessible and affordable.
Now you know where to run an advanced check, which features to look for in the service you choose, and what you can and can’t do as far as the law and concerned. What are you going to do next? Take a minute to let us know below; we love reading your feedback.