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Intelius

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(Image credit: Intelius)

Owned and operated by Seattle-based PeopleConnect, Intelius is a people search service that you can use to perform general background checks and various reverse searches. The company claims to sweep more than 20 billion records during its searches, using information from public and private sources.

Besides that extensive database, Intelius is notable for its intuitive interface. Despite some slightly confusing billing practices, we consider this to be one of the best background check services. Find out more about the platform’s products—which include identity theft protection and reverse phone lookup—in this Intelius evaluation.

Plans and pricing

Intelius offers seven unique background search products, ranging from phone directory lookups to full-scale background checks. No matter which of these you want to use, you’ll need to sign up for a long-term membership to access them.

Confusingly, each plan comes with a similar monthly subscription cost, but initial trial period prices vary wildly. This means that—in some cases—you may be able to save cash by paying for a trial period, carrying out a single search, and then immediately canceling your membership.

Intelius evaluation

You have to subscribe to Intelius to see reports as one-time payments aren’t available (Image credit: Intelius)

For example, if you want to perform a reverse phone search, you could pay $1.99 for a five-day trial and then cancel your membership before you are charged $29.63 for the following month. However, if you do stay subscribed to Intelius, you’ll be able to perform an unlimited number of searches.

Unlimited general background searches cost $22.86 per month or $19.43 per month if you sign up for two months at a time. Subscription costs are the same if you request a straightforward criminal record check.

Be warned, many past customers of the company have reported that Intelius overcharges for their services. During our review, we found numerous reports stating that the platform ignored membership cancellation requests or continued to charge even after an account had been terminated.

How it works

Intelius compiles data from public and private sources, including business records, FBI databases, and phone directories. Most of this information is available online, in many cases for free, but accessing it can be a real headache. The main reason people turn to Intelius is that the company can trawl through these sources of information far faster than you could independently. 

Intelius evaluation

If there are too many people who share the same name as your search subject, Intelius will ask for additional information to narrow down the result (Image credit: Intelius)

To start a search, enter a name and area of residence into the search field on the Intelius homepage. After that, Intelius will begin scanning through its records for your search subject. In some cases, the platform will ask you for additional information before displaying a list of potential candidates that match your query.

Prior to letting you open a report on your search subject, Intelius will display a series of loading screens and prompts about potentially graphic content. However, these appear to be automatically generated and don’t necessarily tell you anything about the information contained in the report.

Features and services

Intelius attempts to differentiate itself from other background check services through extra features and custom database sweeps. This means you shouldn’t be left with a basic check that doesn’t tell you what you want to know. 

To help you find lost family members or better understand the social network of anyone you’re searching for, Intelius offers a detailed People Search report. This includes an interactive grid that shows you how a particular circle of contacts is connected.

When you perform a criminal record search using Intelius, the platform will alert you to federal or state offenses associated with the subject’s relatives. If you want, you can add these records to your report.

A key Intelius feature is the platform’s proprietary data trawling service, which it calls Premiere Search. This is essentially a database of information compiled from different public and private records. Using multiple sources ensures that your final report is as accurate as possible.

Support and customer care

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of support information available through the Intelius website. Instead of searching for an FAQ page, if you have any issues with the platform, you should get directly in touch with the company’s support team over the phone or through email. Members of staff are on hand during PST working hours from Monday to Friday, so your query should be dealt with quickly.

The competition

A downside to the Intelius search service is that you can’t use the product to perform employment background checks. If that’s the reason that you’re looking for a background check service in the first place, consider using People Trail instead. Unlike Intelius, People Trail is an accredited employment screening service.

Another downside of Intelius is that the service requires a monthly membership, and it isn’t possible to pay for a one-time background search. A competitor service worth considering that does employ a straightforward pricing scheme is Sterling.

Final verdict

Unique features, such as a social network viewer and alerts for offenses committed by relatives, help Intelius to stand out in the crowded background check sector. However, overall, this platform could do much better when it comes to being more transparent about pricing and making it easier for customers to cancel their memberships. Intelius also loses points for its artificial loading screens and the misleading prompts that users are subjected to when searching.