One common misconception many people have about background checks is that they are expensive. It is an understandable mistake to make. After all, background checking companies make use of high-tech research solutions to search through hundreds of different data sets in a very short period of time. These methods yield detailed and accurate reports to customers through either an online dashboard or a dedicated mobile app. It doesn’t sound like a cheap process, to be sure.
The modern reality is, for just a few dollars a month, you can run background checks on just about anyone. Cost is no longer a barrier to finding out more about the people in your life. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to choose a cost-effective background service. As well as the lowdown on how much you are likely to have to pay, we will give you an overview of the sites that we believe offer users the best value for money.
What Is a Background Checking Company?
A background checking company provides a research service which is available to anybody. Such services utilize the latest online research technology to parse massive troves of information sourced from public records. All of this data exists legally in the public domain, with much of it being published by the Federal and State governments (along with their associated agencies). When combined together, this body of data can offer a deep insight into the lives of just about every person in the USA.
Background checking companies help the public to access this information. Manual searches are unwieldy and slow, so they make use of automated systems to pull out the relevant entries from the various repositories. Results can come fast, often within just a few minutes!
Performing a background check will uncover anything from contact details to relationships, finances, employment history, criminal records, driving records, and more. You can expect to gain a compelling insight into virtually any facet of someone’s life you choose, all without breaking the bank.
Why Isn’t Running a Background Check Free?
You may question having to pay to access data that is already in the public domain. The reality is that while these repositories make their records legally open to inquiry, actually accessing and searching through the data isn’t always free. When you run a background check online, this cost is born by the company.
There may be numerous other costs involved, too. Database searching technology isn’t free to maintain and operate, nor are the salaries paid to personnel in the employ of background checking companies. For example, many court records across the country have not yet been digitized, so a runner will be sent to visit these courts and search for relevant records by hand.
Despite these (and other) costs, top-notch background checking companies still manage to organize themselves efficiently enough to offer their full services at surprisingly reasonable rates.
The Risks of Using a “Free” Background Checking Service
You may come across a few sites online which appear to be offering a free service. We strongly advise you to avoid using these sites as there can be a number of risks involved. As we have already explained, running a proper online background check has a number of costs involved. More often than not, free services provide virtually zero real value beyond what can be obtained from a simple Google search.
What’s worse, some free sites might be looking to harvest your personal data (or that of your subjects) sell it to the highest bidder for an easy profit. Others still may attempt to persuade you to download malware-infested software. Given that the most reputable background sites only cost a few dollars a month to sign up with, it really isn’t worth the risk to use a dubious service
How to Judge a Cheap Background Checking Site
The online background checking market is a crowded one, and a quick Google search will reveal scores of different companies. The problem many people face is which site to use? It can be hard to find out the costs associated with different sites at first because many sites do not make their fees immediately apparent on their websites. But when it comes to the best provider on the market, the difference in fees can be pretty minimal.
We would, therefore, argue that, rather than simply choosing the site with the lowest fees, users are better off seeking out the background checking site which offers the best value for money. Sure, it might cost you a dollar or two a month more, but if you are getting a much better service that effectively addresses your needs, then it is clearly worth paying that little bit more.
The Best Value-for-Money Background Checking Services
Prices can vary quite a bit across the market, but the cheapest background checking service is not necessarily the right one for you. It is also the case that the most expensive service is not necessarily the best either. These are the main criteria to consider:
- Comprehensive research – The depth and diligence of research that can be offered by sites may differ significantly. Opt for a service which searches the widest possible range of sources to deliver detailed results.
- Fast results – Generally speaking, the best sites should be able to deliver basic results in just a few minutes, and a more detailed report in a few days.
- Accurate and comprehensible reports – Search results are provided in final reports, which need to be accurate as well as easy to understand and read.
- Search customization – You may not always have a wealth of information on a person with which to begin a search. The best sites are able to run a check based on even the smallest amount of detail with good results.
- Usable dashboard – Reputable services offer the convenience of an online dashboard, where users can manage and view all of their search data. The best services go above and beyond basic functionality to offer an attractive, intuitive user experience.
- Mobile apps – With the advent of mobile platforms such as Android and iOS, the best background checking services will offer an accompanying app for one or multiple devices.
- Good Customer Support – If you encounter any problems with your search or have questions about results, you will need a reliable and helpful customer support service. The best of these can be accessed in various different ways and during long opening hours.
Using these criteria, we have identified the three background checking sites that we believe offer the best possible value for money. We have based this decision not only on the fees they charge but also the all-round service that they deliver. Those three sites are:
Instant CheckMate has a terrific reputation and boasts some enthusiastic customer feedback. Their services come in a two-tiered payment structure. The basic service is priced from $34.78 per month for a one-month subscription (or $27.82 a month for three months), and includes unlimited reports sourced from data as criminal records, marriage and divorce records, details of relatives, address history, and any public social media profiles. For a small extra charge, their premium level service delves into details like financial history, driving licenses and weapons licenses.
CheckMate’s final reports are neat, easy to follow, and packed with information, while their online dashboard is well-designed and straightforward to use. One downside to CheckMate is that it only has an Android app available right now. iOS users have to make do with the online dashboard, but this seemed to function well in the Safari browser. They do offer a good customer support service, which is available around the clock every day of the week. CheckMate is not the cheapest provider out there, but their value for money is nevertheless exceptional.
Truthfinder offers a top-tier service at an extremely reasonable price. Their fees start from $27.78 per month for a one-month subscription but drop to $23.02 per month if you commit for three months. At this price, they claim to offer one of the most comprehensive search services around–and you’d be hard-pressed to disagree when you consider the millions of different data sets they parse. Their research took in criminal and court records, driving records, personal information, and information about known relatives. For an additional fee of $17.47, their premium level research will also look into things like education history, voter registration records, weapons and other licenses held. There is even a unique deep web research service available.
Truthfinder’s final reports are well designed, easy-to-read and crammed with information. Their online dashboard, too, is well designed and intuitive. Unfortunately, Truthfinder only offers an Android app at present, which is a shame for owners of Apple devices. Finally, they offer 24/7 customer support which is available on a toll-free number.
Intelius boasts an excellent reputation along with some of the most affordable prices around. Subscriptions start from $14.95 for one month, dropping to $9.98 for three months and $7.48 for six months. They search through a huge range of sources including a person’s full contact details, address history, criminal records, sex offender register details, financial history, property records, educational history, and much more besides.
Intelius has a sleek and impressive online dashboard and concise, readable final reports, which still deliver plenty of information. They also offer dedicated apps available for both Android and iOS devices, which is a tremendous boon to a large cross section of users. With more than 50 million successful background checks under their belts, there is no questioning Intelius’ terrific value for money.
If you are looking to run a background check on someone, selecting the cheapest option is not the smartest way forward. Some sites claim to do the job for free, but in those cases, there is almost always a catch. Better to do your research and choose a site which offers the best all-round value for money. In this article, we have highlighted the three background checking services which we believe can offer this.
Have you ever run a background check online? Did you find the service you used value for money? Which site did you opt for? Have you ever tried a free background checking service? What was your experience of them? We always welcome the comments and opinions of all our readers, so why not share them with us using the comment box below.
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