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Best Do-It-Yourself Online Background Check Website

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

After much research and analysis, we recommend BackgroundReport.com as our 2019 pick for the best online DIY background check website. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can view our methodology, as well as a comprehensive list of background check services and websites, on our best picks page.

BackgroundReport.com is an affordable, do-it-yourself online service that provides instant results and complies with federal background check laws. Its costs start at $19.95.

What separates BackgroundReport.com from many other online background check websites is that it complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which makes the site legal to use for pre-employment job screenings.

Unlike websites that don't follow FCRA laws, BackgroundReport.com actively involves the job candidate in the screening process. With this site, candidates are notified by email that a background check is being conducted and are given a copy of the report to review when the check is finished.

Employers also must get each job candidate to sign a consent form before conducting a background check. BackgroundReport.com doesn't need to see the consent form, but the company encourages employers to save the form in their files.

Many of the websites we investigated allowed you to run instant searches on anyone, without their consent. Not only are such searches illegal to use for employment screening, but the information obtained is often inaccurate, and the job candidate has no chance to refute what's found. With BackgroundReport.com, if any adverse information is discovered, the job candidate has the opportunity to provide an immediate explanation.

Additionally, websites that aren't FCRA-compliant have specific wording in their terms of use specifying that the service should not be used for pre-employment screening. If you take the risk and use one of these services, and a job candidate finds out, you could face a lawsuit.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on background check services? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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BackgroundReport.com  offers two types of employee-screening packages:

The basic plan costs $19.95 per report. It includes:

  • Social Security number validation
  • Social Security death index check
  • Nationwide, instant criminal convictions search. (This is a nationwide, multijurisdictional criminal records search that looks for criminal incidents in a variety of databases, including the state administrative office of the courts, state departments of correction, National Criminal Search Index and county criminal courthouses, where available.)
  • Sex offender check
  • Terrorist watch list check

The premium plan costs $29.95 per report and includes:

  • Social Security number validation
  • Social Security death index check
  • Nationwide instant criminal convictions search (see above)
  • Sex offender check and terrorist watch list check
  • Address history
  • Alias names
  • Phone number history
  • Eviction records
  • Bankruptcy records
  • Lien records
  • Judgment records

BackgroundReport.com offers one optional service: Representatives from the site will conduct in-person county criminal searches. Those start at $9.95 each. Since not all county courthouses make information available to online searches, the in-person search provides a more in-depth look.

Unlike some of the other services we examined, BackgroundReport.com does not have any registration or monthly fees.

The BackgroundReport.com website is very easy to use. First, you select and pay for the basic or premium plan and provide some information on the job candidate, including their name, Social Security number and email address. The job candidate is then sent an email with a temporary password for the website. 

Candidates log in to the system to verify their identities. Once they have done so, BackgroundReport.com runs an instant background check. Within minutes, the candidate is alerted that the report is ready for review on the website.

Unlike other sites on which employers view the report first, this service allows job candidates to have the first look, so they can add any notes and explanations about what was discovered. This gives candidates an opportunity to provide immediate context about what was found before employers have the chance to form any initial conclusions.

Once the candidate has reviewed the report, employers are sent an email notification that the background check is complete.

BackgroundReport.com's reports are simple to understand and navigate. In addition to the candidate's basic information, the first page of the report has a summary of the results that includes how many aliases were found, the previous addresses that were discovered and how many criminal records were revealed. 

You can then scroll through the report to find more information on each item. For the criminal records, the report provides as much detail as was found in the databases that were searched. This can include the charge, whether the offense was a misdemeanor or felony, if there was a guilty plea and what the settlement was. You can view a sample report on the BackgroundReport website.

We were pleased with the customer service that BackgroundReport.com provided. To test the level of support offered, we called the company multiple times posing as a small business owner interested in pre-employment screening services.

During each of our calls, customer service representatives were helpful and friendly. They never tried to rush us off the phone and didn't try to pressure us into signing up for the service. Instead, they took the necessary time to thoroughly answer all of our questions.

The representatives from BackgroundReport.com gave us the impression that the service was more legitimate than other services we considered. Some DIY services we spoke to gave evasive and unclear answers to some of our questions, which left us with concerns about the reliability of these companies.

Out of all of the background check services and websites we analyzed, BackgroundReport.com was one of the few that offered help on a Saturday. You can reach customer service representatives by phone or email, between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PST) on Saturdays.

While BackgroundReport.com doesn't have a Better Bureau Business rating, its parent company, E-Renter USA does. The company is not accredited by the BBB and has a B rating. As of July, there had been six complaints filed against the company within the past three years. You can read more about the nature of each complaint on the BBB website.

The biggest downside to BackgroundReport.com is that it relies mostly on online databases, so it can't provide some of the more thorough searches that a full-service background check provider offers. However, paying for an in-person county court runner increases your chances of finding something that hasn't been digitized and entered into any databases.

Additionally, this website doesn't offer the ability to verify past employment or education. Those verifications are often crucial in helping to determine if a candidate would be a good fit for your company. If you want these more in-depth searches, we encourage you to consider our choices for the best background check service for small businesses or best background check services for very small businesses.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on background check services? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need.

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Ready to choose a background check service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.