There’s a lot of information that can be turned up using modern technology, but you may still wonder if background checks are really that accurate. After all, acting on incorrect information about someone can have consequences. In this article, we are going to explain just how accurate background checking sites are and which sites to use to get the current information every time.
People run background checks for serious reasons. Perhaps you are looking for a long-lost family member? Perhaps you want to find out more about a new neighbour or your daughter’s new boyfriend? Perhaps you don’t trust the new guy in the office.
Whatever your reason, if you run a background check, it is vital that the information you get back is accurate. Just imagine the consequences if it isn’t.
You could end up traveling across the country to meet someone who isn’t actually your long-lost half-sister. You might accuse your daughter’s new boyfriend of having a criminal record when he hasn’t. You could end up accusing your new colleague of something he hasn’t done.
It doesn’t bear thinking about which is why people are so keen to know which background sites are best at generating accurate results. The truth is that some sites are much better than others. In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know to make sure that if you run a background check it is accurate every time.
What is a background check?
Before we begin, let’s establish exactly what a background check is and why you might want to run one.
A background checking site is an online service which can generate a profile of anyone in the country by pulling together information from hundreds of different publicly available data sources. The sort of information they can find includes things like:
- Criminal records (state, county, and city)
- Employment history
- Work authorization
- Credit history
- Education history (high school and college)
- Driving record
- Licenses held
- Social media profiles
On its own, this information doesn’t tell you very much. But when it is put together, it can paint a powerful and interesting portrait of a person. This can be useful for a number of different reasons:
- Criminal checks – If you are worried about a neighbor or work-colleague a background check can tell you whether someone has a criminal record.
- Employment checks – Before hiring someone, employees often like to run a background check to make sure their CV checks out. (There are specific laws governing this kind of background check.).
- Finding information about someone – If someone in your life is a bit of a mystery and you want to know more, a background check can help.
- Finding a lost family member or friend – If you have lost contact with a friend or relative, a background check can help you track them down.
- Checking for local sex offenders – If the risk of possible sex offenders living in your area worries you, a background check can help you know or put your mind at ease.
- Checking records about yourself – A lot of people are interested in knowing what information about themselves is publicly available. Running a background check on yourself will tell you.
Background checks are useful for all these reasons and more, but only if they are accurate. If they return information which is not correct, this can create far more problems than it solves.
What is the most accurate background checking site
Finding an accurate background checking site is very important, but it is also not as easy as you might think. Some sites are much more thorough than others and while some are just trying to get money out of you at any cost, others are genuinely built by people with pride in the service they offer and a commitment to getting things right.
We have been tested all the top background checking sites to see which ones can produce the most accurate and consistent results. The results are now in and here is our pick of the top two accurate background checking sites:
TruthFinder was another background checking site that proved unerringly accurate throughout our tests. They didn’t put a foot wrong, even with complex queries and limited data being provided to them. The speed of their work was not quite as consistent as some other providers but this did depend on the nature of the search. Nevertheless, their reports were first-class as were both their dashboard and their apps.
TruthFinder also offers a responsive 24/7 customer support on a toll-free number which is great for new users. There is a real sense that the customer is their top priority, which is not always the case with lesser background checking sites.
Instant CheckMate impressed us with the accuracy of their results, and were especially good with vague searches. The speed of their service also impressed us too with results generated faster than every other site we tested.
At $34.78 per month, or with a discount, a three-month subscription for $27.82 per month, they are not the cheapest. But if speed and accuracy are what you need, it might be worth paying a little more.
Instant CheckMate also offers nice apps and a good dashboard. Their customer service was very helpful too and their reports, while detailed, were never too difficult to decipher.
Why are some background checks inaccurate?
There are a variety of different reasons why a background check could turn up inaccurate information. Some of these are avoidable and may be your fault rather than the site, and some are unavoidable no matter which site you use:
- Initial information is wrong – When you start running a background check, you will be asked to input as much information as you can about the subject. Most sites can dig out accurate reports with a bare minimum of information. But if you input something wrong, it could end up with them checking someone else. It is therefore important to make sure all the details are correct and input accurately. If you have any doubt about a piece of information, it is best not to use it and risk a false-positive result.
- An error in the records – Background checking sites source their information from dozens of differently publicly available records. It is not unknown for these records to contain mistakes either due to human error or a failure to update or amend files. If they do, a background check is unlikely to know so this false information could be reported as fact.
- Common details – If a subject has a fairly unique name, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get accurate information. But if they have a common name, like John Smith, it can be harder to differentiate between individuals. Equally, if an address has multiple people with the same name there, mistakes can happen. High-quality background checking sites shouldn’t make these mistakes often, but it can never be ruled out entirely.
- Different sources – Background checking sites will often source information from different places. Some of these sources can be more accurate and up-to-date than others, so this can have a bearing on how accurate their reports are.
- Similarities and coincidences – Sometimes, inaccuracies are just down to bad luck. If someone with a similar name also has a similar social security number or birthday, sites can get mixed up and make mistakes. Again, the best sites, such as the ones we have recommended above, have taken steps to mitigate this risk. But none will claim to be able to offer a cast-iron guarantee.
What to do if you think a report contains inaccuracies
If you opt for any of the two providers on this list, the chances of you finding inaccuracies in your final reports are minimal. But it is possible, so it is useful to know what you can do if you have doubts. Try these three steps:
- The first thing to do is check through the initial information that you input into the site. Make sure you haven’t entered anything incorrectly, which could be affecting the results.
- Next, contact the site’s customer support to ask for advice. All high-quality background checking sites have excellent customer support which can usually be reached either on the phone or through a live-chat service online. They will be able to look into the results you have doubts over and even help you to double-check the source.
- The last step is to check the sources yourself. If a background check has got most things right, but there are one or two results which don’t look right, it is worth going to the source yourself to double-check. It might be that their site is checking an out-of-date or inaccurate version of the records and you may well be able to find the right information yourself in no time at all.
Will free background checking sites return accurate results?
We are often asked why people shouldn’t use a free background checking site rather than paying for the service. Accuracy is one of the main reasons we give.
A free background checking site is unlikely to be using sources that are either up-to-date or accurate. They will certainly not be referencing the same huge range of data sources that a paid-for site does. This inevitably leads to them reporting inaccurate results far more frequently. Equally, the algorithms they use to search through these databases are likely to be far simpler than a paid-for site and this means they will make more mistakes.
We get far more complaints and comments about free background checking sites than we do paid-for ones and our tests back up this feedback. As a rule, if you want an accurate background check carried out, don’t use a free site.
If you pick the right background checking site, you can be fairly confident that it will deliver accurate results. But no site will claim to be 100% accurate. In this article, we have picked out the two sites which our tests found to be the most accurate.
But, as we have explained, there are occasions where even these sites can go wrong. Sometimes their sources contain errors and if you give them inaccurate information to start with, this can also lead to bad results. But the chances are that they will return accurate results far more often than not and we would not hesitate to trust any of them
Have you ever experienced an inaccuratebackground check? What did you do? Do you have any additional tips for our readers?
We always welcome feedback and comments from our readers to help inform others, so why not share your own experiences with us using the comment box below?