PeopleFinders vs Instant Checkmate: Which People Search Site Is Best?

March 25, 2024

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When you need to find someone—whether it’s an old friend, distant relative, or even information on yourself—an online people search service is a great place to start. Two of the most popular options are PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate. But which one is the better choice?

As the Managing Editor at, I’ve personally tested both services extensively. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll provide an in-depth comparison of PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate, evaluating their search capabilities, report quality, user experience, and more. By the end, you’ll have a clear idea of which one best fits your needs. If neither feels like the perfect fit, check out our list of the best PeopleFinders alternatives.

PeopleFinders Overview


Founded in 1999, PeopleFinders is one of the longest-running people search services. They aggregate data from public records and online sources to compile detailed reports on individuals in the U.S.

Key features of PeopleFinders include:

  • People search by name, phone, or address
  • Comprehensive background reports
  • Reverse phone lookup
  • 24/7 customer support


PeopleFinders offers several pricing options:

  • 3-Day Trial: $0.95
  • Monthly Membership: $24.95/month
  • Bi-Annual Membership: $14.95/month
  • Single Report: $1.95
Peoplefinders Membership Plans


  • Extensive database with over 250 million profiles
  • Affordable single reports
  • Easy cancelation process
  • Clean, user-friendly interface


  • Need to wait 3 days for reports to unlock with trial
  • Some reports contain outdated or inaccurate info
  • No mobile app

Instant Checkmate Overview

Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate launched in 2010 and quickly became one of the top people search engines thanks to its comprehensive reports and unique features. They scour millions of public records to provide detailed background info.

Notable features of Instant Checkmate:

  • People search by name, phone, email, or location
  • Deep web searches
  • Reverse phone and email lookup
  • Criminal records search
  • Android and iOS apps


Instant Checkmate has 2 main membership options:

  • 1-Month Membership: $35.12
  • 3-Month Membership: $28.09/month
Instant Checkmate Pricing

They occasionally run promotions for a 5-day trial for $1.


  • Very detailed, accurate reports
  • Special tools like deep web search
  • Convenient mobile apps
  • A+ rating from BBB


  • One of the most expensive services
  • No single reports, membership required
  • Search process slower than competitors
  • Many upsell offers during search

PeopleFinders vs Instant Checkmate: Head-to-Head Comparison

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the key areas where PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate differ. I’ve spent dozens of hours testing both services to evaluate how they stack up. For more comparisons, see our articles on PeopleFinders vs TruthFinder, PeopleFinders vs Intelius, and Spokeo vs PeopleFinders.

Search Options

Both PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate offer standard people searches by name as well as reverse phone lookups. However, Instant Checkmate has a few more advanced search options that PeopleFinders lacks, such as searches by email address and searches for criminal records.

Instant Checkmate Traffic, Criminal And Arrest Records Search
Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate’s deep web scan is a standout feature for finding hard-to-uncover info. It searches anonymized data on the dark web, hacker forums, and private databases. So if your search subject has an obscure online presence, Instant Checkmate is more likely to turn up details.

PeopleFinders does have the advantage of allowing address-based searches in addition to names and numbers. So if you only know someone’s location, it could be the better choice.

Report Quality and Accuracy

I compared reports on the same individual from PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate. While there was a lot of overlap in the basic information like age, relatives, past addresses, and phone numbers, Instant Checkmate’s reports went more in-depth in key areas:

  • Criminal Records – Instant Checkmate reports include a detailed criminal records section with offenses broken down by type (e.g. DUI, violent crimes, sex offenses). PeopleFinders reports are less comprehensive in my experience.
  • Social Media Profiles – Instant Checkmate is better at finding hidden social media accounts and photos.
  • Images – Background reports on Instant Checkmate almost always include a photo of the individual, while PeopleFinders reports do not.

However, one caveat is that Instant Checkmate sometimes includes information in reports that is not relevant, such as a relative that merely shares the same name as a sex offender. PeopleFinders reports tend to contain only directly pertinent info, so there is less to sift through.

As for accuracy, both services pull data directly from official public records. But since these databases update at different times, you may occasionally find outdated info in reports from either service, such as an old phone number or address. In my tests, both were mostly accurate, with Instant Checkmate having a slight edge.

Ease of Use

PeopleFinders has one of the most user-friendly interfaces of any people search service I’ve tested. Searches are lightning-fast, taking mere seconds to generate a report preview. The report interface is clean and modern with information neatly organized.

Peoplefinders Background Report

In contrast, Instant Checkmate’s search process is slower, taking a minute or two. The site also shows endless animations and graphics during the search process which quickly gets tedious. Once the reports load, however, they are mostly well-organized and easy to navigate.

How To Use Instant Checkmate

Mobile Apps

If you need to conduct people searches on the go, Instant Checkmate is the clear winner. They have highly-rated apps for both Android and iOS that include all the functionality of the website. The app is fast and easy to use, with an interface optimized for mobile screens.

Instant Checkmate App

PeopleFinders currently does not offer any mobile apps, so you are limited to using the mobile version of their website on your phone. While serviceable, it’s not as seamless of an experience as a dedicated app.

Pricing and Value

PeopleFinders is one of the more affordable people search services, with a very low-priced trial, budget-friendly membership options, and the ability to buy single reports. Instant Checkmate is on the opposite end of the spectrum—it’s one of the priciest background check services and requires a membership to access reports.

However, Instant Checkmate makes a strong case for its higher price tag by offering incredibly detailed reports, advanced tools like deep web searches, and the convenience of mobile apps. If you only need to look up an individual occasionally, PeopleFinders’ single reports are a great value. But if you need to conduct frequent, in-depth searches, Instant Checkmate is worth the extra cost.

Which Service Is Best for Your Needs?

Both PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate are reliable, reputable people search services. But each has strengths that make them better suited for certain applications. Here are my recommendations:

Employment Screenings

If you’re an employer conducting background checks on job applicants, Instant Checkmate is the better choice. Their criminal records searches are more thorough and they are generally more accurate. However, keep in mind that you must follow FCRA guidelines when using these services for employment purposes.

Finding Relatives

For adoptees searching for birth parents or anyone looking for a long-lost relative, I recommend starting with PeopleFinders. Their address search can help if you have outdated location info and their reports make it easy to identify likely relatives. If you hit a dead end, try Instant Checkmate as a backup to cast a wider net.

Identifying Unknown Callers

Both services offer reverse phone lookups to help identify the person behind an unknown number. PeopleFinders’ phone searches are significantly cheaper, but Instant Checkmate’s provide more detailed background info in the full reports. For basic caller ID, go with PeopleFinders. To dig deeper, use Instant Checkmate.

Dating Background Checks

Online daters often use background check services as a safety precaution before meeting in person. Instant Checkmate is the best choice here. Their reports include details that are critical for evaluating someone’s character, like criminal offenses and social media activity, that PeopleFinders may miss.


How do PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate get their information?

Both services compile their reports from millions of public records, such as court documents, voter registrations, property records, phone directories, and social media profiles. They use web crawler software to continually scan for and aggregate this data.

Are these services legal to use?

For the most part, yes. Looking up someone’s public information is legal. However, you cannot use these reports for certain restricted purposes, like tenant screening, hiring decisions, or determining credit/insurance eligibility. You must also not use the data to stalk or harass someone.

How accurate and up-to-date are the reports?

Reports should be reasonably accurate since they pull from official records. However, public records databases update at different frequencies. Occasionally reports will contain outdated info, like past addresses or phone numbers. Most recent data is typically up to date within 1-2 months.

Can I remove my own information from these sites?

Yes, you can opt out of having your information appear on PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate. Both sites have a process you can follow to request your data be removed, though it is faster and easier with PeopleFinders. Keep in mind that opting out does not remove your info from public records.

What if I can’t find the person I’m looking for?

First, double check that you have their name spelled correctly and try any variations they may use. If you still can’t find them, they may have very little public records footprint. Try searching for family members instead. As a last resort, you can hire a private investigator.

Key Takeaways

  • PeopleFinders is cheaper and easier to use, but Instant Checkmate has better quality reports with more detailed information.
  • Instant Checkmate is better for employment screenings and identifying criminal records.
  • PeopleFinders is better for finding long-lost relatives on a budget.
  • For dating background checks, Instant Checkmate is the way to go.


As you can see, both PeopleFinders and Instant Checkmate have a lot to offer, but they each have strengths and weaknesses. I hope this in-depth comparison has given you the information needed to make an informed choice. Evaluate what type of searches you will conduct most often and what special features matter most to determine which service is right for you.

Whichever one you choose, remember to always use these tools responsibly and ethically. Never use them to invade someone’s privacy or make decisions about employment, housing, or credit. And if you decide either service isn’t for you, take a look at our top PeopleFinders alternatives for other options.