Instant Checkmate Review 2024: The Bottom Line Up Front

March 26, 2024

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Instant Checkmate is a popular online background check service that aggregates public records data about individuals in the United States. While not a consumer reporting agency, the platform allows users to look up information like criminal records, contact details, social media profiles, and more about almost anyone.

After extensively testing and analyzing Instant Checkmate, our expert review found that it is a legitimate service that provides accurate and detailed background reports, albeit at slightly higher prices than some competitors. The interface is user-friendly and the criminal records search functionality is a standout feature. However, the lengthy search processing times can be frustrating.

Overall, Instant Checkmate is best for those willing to pay a small premium for an easy-to-use, feature-rich background check service for personal use. It’s an effective tool for vetting online dates, researching new neighbors or acquaintances, and locating long-lost friends and relatives.

Key Takeaways

  • Instant Checkmate aggregates data from millions of public records sources into comprehensive background reports on almost any person in the U.S.
  • While more expensive than some other background check sites, an Instant Checkmate subscription provides unlimited searches.
  • It should only be used for personal reasons (like online dating), not for tenant or employee screening.
  • With an intuitive interface and detailed criminal records data, Instant Checkmate is a powerful yet accessible tool for the average user.

What Is Instant Checkmate?

Instant Checkmate

Founded in 2010, Instant Checkmate is an online service that enables individuals to search for and view public records about people in the United States. The company collects data from various federal, state, and county databases, compiling it into comprehensive reports that may include:

  • Names and aliases
  • Contact information
  • Criminal records
  • Sex offender status
  • Social media profiles
  • Professional licenses
  • Property ownership
  • Relatives and associates

Users can search for almost anyone by name, phone number, email address, or physical address. However, Instant Checkmate is not a consumer reporting agency and its reports cannot legally be used for purposes like employment or tenant screening.

Instead, the site is primarily used by individuals who want to research people for personal reasons, such as:

  • Online dating and relationships
  • Researching a new neighbor or acquaintance
  • Locating long-lost friends and family members
  • Uncovering information about one’s own online presence

The platform has several key features that make it popular with users, as well as some limitations. Let’s take a closer look.

Instant Checkmate Features

Instant Checkmate offers an array of search options that allow users to uncover a wealth of public records data:

  • People Search: Look up nearly anyone in the U.S. by name, with options to filter by city and state for more accurate results.
  • Reverse Phone Lookup: Enter a phone number to find any available information about who it belongs to.
  • Criminal Records Search: Access a database of arrest records, court dockets, sex offender registries, and other criminal records.
  • Social Media Search: Scour nearly 100 online platforms for any social profiles associated with the searchee.

The interface has an intuitive search engine-style design. After entering your query, Instant Checkmate searches its databases and compiles any matching records into a report, which you can unlock with a subscription.

Reports are cleanly laid out and easy to navigate. They include detailed background information along with quick-reference highlights like location changes and criminal record overviews. Premium reports may also contain additional info like financial histories, professional licenses, weapons permits, voter registration data, and more.

Additionally, Instant Checkmate offers a mobile app for Android devices, allowing subscribers to access reports on the go. The app has an overall rating of 4.0 stars on Google Play.

Instant Checkmate Pricing

Instant Checkmate takes a subscription-based approach to pricing. Rather than charging per report, users pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to reports. At the time of writing, there are two membership options:

  1. 1 Month Membership: $35.12/month
  2. 3 Month Membership: $28.09/month
Instant Checkmate Pricing

There’s also a 5-day trial for $1 if you want to test out the service before committing to a full subscription. Be aware that the trial automatically converts to the 1 month plan after 5 days.

The lack of one-off report purchases may be a downside for users who only need limited searches. However, if you anticipate looking up multiple people over a period of time, the Instant Checkmate cost can prove to be economical and convenient.

Instant Checkmate Pros

Comprehensive Reports: Instant Checkmate reports are thorough, presenting data in a clear, skimmable format. You can find detailed records on everything from arrests and sex offenses to relatives and social media profiles.

User-Friendly Interface: Both the website and app have an intuitive, modern design. It’s easy to run a search, scan a report, and manage your account settings.

Unlimited Searches: A subscription gives you the ability to run background checks to your heart’s content. This is a major benefit if you need to research multiple people. Many other services charge per report.

Helpful Customer Service: Based on our experience, Instant Checkmate provides responsive, knowledgeable customer support. Representatives are available by phone and email to assist with billing issues, technical difficulties, opting out of having your info appear on the site, and other concerns.

Instant Checkmate Customer Service

Instant Checkmate Cons

High Membership Costs: Instant Checkmate prices are on the high end compared to similar background check platforms. If you only need a one-time search, there are more affordable options.

Lengthy Search Processing: Background searches can take several minutes to process results, which may be frustrating if you need info quickly. Compiling millions of records is complex, but Instant Checkmate could improve wait times.

No Individual Reports: Currently, the only way to access reports is to purchase a subscription. The lack of a one-off report option may deter those who don’t want to commit to a monthly plan.

Cannot Be Used for Employment/Housing Decisions: This isn’t necessarily a con, but it’s important to emphasize that Instant Checkmate reports are not FCRA-compliant and therefore cannot be used for employment, tenant screening, or other official purposes. Only use it for personal searches.

How to Use Instant Checkmate

Getting started with Instant Checkmate is straightforward:

  1. Go to instantcheckmate.com and select the type of search you want to perform (people, phone, email, etc.).
  2. Enter the requested information and hit Search. Instant Checkmate will compile any available records into a report.
  3. Follow the prompts to create an account and purchase a subscription to unlock the report.
  4. Review the report, using the menu to jump to different sections like location history, criminal records, and social profiles.
How To Use Instant Checkmate

If you want to perform additional searches, simply go to the search bar at the top of the page and enter a new query. You can create PDF versions of reports to save for later reference.

As mentioned, Instant Checkmate should only be used for personal searches, not employment or tenant screening. Violating the platform’s terms of service can result in account termination.

What Do Customers Say About Instant Checkmate?

Instant Checkmate reviews from customers are generally positive, with many users praising the detail of the reports and the platform’s ease of use. On Sitejabber, the company has an average rating of 4.5 stars based on over 200,000 reviews. Trustpilot shows a similar average of 4.2 stars across nearly 20,000 reviews.

Common pieces of positive feedback include:

  • “Great service. Easy to use and was able to locate someone that I haven’t seen or talked to in years.”
  • “I’m so impressed with the information I received and how easy it is to navigate the website.”
  • “I have to admit I was very skeptical at first but they proved to be very thorough and accurate.”

However, some customers do have complaints, mainly around the high subscription cost, lengthy search processing times, and lack of individual report options. These align with the cons we identified in our own analysis.

Additionally, some users have expressed displeasure with the automatic subscription renewal process. To avoid unexpected charges, be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions and keep track of when your plan is set to renew.

To cancel a subscription, you can contact Instant Checkmate’s customer service by phone. While some reviewers have complained about long wait times, this seems to be improving based on more recent feedback.

Is Instant Checkmate Legit or Is It a Scam?

This is one of the most common questions about the service—and rightly so, given the sensitivity of the information involved. No one wants to get scammed when it comes to their personal data.

The short answer is that yes, Instant Checkmate is a legitimate background check service. It is not a scam. The company has been in business since 2010 and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

However, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Instant Checkmate is not a consumer reporting agency. Its reports cannot be used for employment, housing, or credit decisions.
  • The platform sources its data from public records, meaning most of the information it provides can be found elsewhere. You’re paying for the convenience of having it aggregated into one report.
  • As with any online service, it’s important to read the fine print before signing up. Be clear on the subscription terms, renewal process, and cancellation policy to avoid surprises down the road.

There have been some complaints about Instant Checkmate’s billing practices, with some customers reporting difficulty canceling subscriptions or receiving refunds. However, these issues seem to be the exception rather than the rule, and the company does offer a $1 trial to let you test out the service before committing to a full subscription.

All in all, Instant Checkmate appears to be a legitimate, reliable background check service—as long as you use it for its intended purpose and understand what you’re signing up for.

Instant Checkmate Alternatives

While Instant Checkmate is a solid background check service, it may not be the right fit for everyone. Here are some of the top alternatives:

  1. BeenVerified: Like Instant Checkmate, BeenVerified offers comprehensive background reports sourced from public records. It has a similar pricing structure, with options for a 1-month or 3-month subscription. However, it also offers a less expensive reverse phone lookup option. Additionally, BeenVerified provides more transparency around data sources. Read our full BeenVerified review.
  2. TruthFinder: TruthFinder is another popular Instant Checkmate alternative that provides detailed background checks. Its reports are very comprehensive and nicely laid out. The platform also offers some unique features like a self-monitoring tool. Pricing is comparable to Instant Checkmate. Here’s our in-depth TruthFinder review.
  3. Intelius: Intelius is one of the longest-running background check services, having been founded in 2003. It offers various types of reports, including a less expensive people search option if you only need basic information. However, the interface is a bit clunky compared to Instant Checkmate. Check out our complete Intelius review.

If you’re considering other background check options, you may want to see our comparison of Instant Checkmate vs PeopleFinders.

Instant Checkmate Review Frequently Asked Questions

Is Instant Checkmate free?

No, Instant Checkmate does not offer a free version. The cheapest way to access reports is to sign up for the $1 5-day trial. After that, you’ll need to purchase a subscription starting at $34.78/month to continue using the service.

Can Instant Checkmate be used for employment?

No, you cannot use Instant Checkmate for employment screening. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that consumer reports used for this purpose meet strict accuracy and privacy standards. However, Instant Checkmate is not a consumer reporting agency, so its reports are not FCRA-compliant.

How far back does Instant Checkmate go?

Instant Checkmate collects historical data from public records, so in some cases, reports may contain information going back several decades. However, it ultimately depends on what has been recorded by government agencies and made available in databases.

Does Instant Checkmate show warrants?

Yes, if a person has an active warrant, it should show up in their Instant Checkmate background report. The criminal records section typically includes details on warrants along with other data points like arrest records, misdemeanors, felonies, and sex offenses.

Why does Instant Checkmate charge so much?

Instant Checkmate has higher prices than some other background check services because it focuses on providing comprehensive reports rather than basic people searches. The company invests in aggregating data from a huge array of public records databases, which can get expensive. However, a subscription does give you unlimited reports. If you only need a one-off search, there are cheaper options.

Will the people I search know they’ve been searched?

No, Instant Checkmate does not notify individuals if someone looks up their information on the platform. The company simply aggregates data that’s already available in public records databases. If you want to perform searches discreetly, you can. If you’re concerned about your own privacy, note that you can opt out of having your information appear on Instant Checkmate.

The Bottom Line on Instant Checkmate

So, is Instant Checkmate worth it? Based on our extensive research and testing, we believe it is a solid option for personal background checks. While Instant Checkmate cost more than some competitors, the platform offers in-depth, user-friendly reports and a powerful overall user experience.

Just remember that like all background check services, Instant Checkmate is intended for personal use only, not for employment decisions or other official purposes. As long as you understand these limitations and are comfortable with the subscription model, Instant Checkmate can be a valuable tool for researching the people in your life.