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Hidden costs of a free online background check

Hidden costs of a free online background check

Although a free background check online can seem like a good deal, you’ll often find that the information you really want is something you have to pay for. Read the small print of any site before registering or requesting information as you may find that the service is far from free.

The reason for this is that many searches that you may request must be conducted through a government agency or department and are fee-based services. They simply cannot be done for free.

Another ploy with sites advertising a free background check online is to offer you paid-for tutorials and software on conducting people and public record searches yourself. These services and tutorials can cost about $30 and although you may get lots of tips on conducting your own search the same money could have been spent with a professional agency and the tips picked up for free on other sites.


As with most things you really do get what you pay for when it comes to background checks. Free background checks online are very limited in their search capacity and although you may be able to verify address records, phone numbers and possibly marriage or divorce records there is little else you can check online for free. On top of all this there’s no guarantee that the information received from a free online background check is in any way recent – free checks are often conducted from databases that are not regularly updated and so can easily produce false results.

Accessing criminal records – not on your free search.

The really important information on criminal records, employment history and credit history are all paid-for searches, and for an accurate result you really should pay for a trained researcher to carry out the check.

Costs vary from site to site and suspiciously low costs may be a result of superficial searches on public record systems only. If you’re hoping for a complete search you need to work with a recognized agency that employs trained researchers. Cross referencing information and following up on leads can be one of the most important parts of a background search – but you’ll have to pay for that personal service. For a guide to costs for background check services see our page on that subject