Intelius is THE oldest online background check company in the industry. They've been around since 2003 and we wanted to see if having the advantage of time made for a better product with more features then the new comers like Truth Finder. Unfortunately, it looks like the site is still stuck in 2003. While the information was ok, the user interface was dated and somewhat confusing. That's why we've ranked Intelius in the #3 position. Check out our full review or use the form below to begin your search.
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Intelius is one of the oldest background check companies still in operation today. Founded in 2003 in the wake of the dot com bubble, the service broke ground for people who wanted to learn more about their neighbors online. However, just because someone has been in business for a long time, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to offer the best service.
To see if Intelius provided the kind of experience and data I look for in an background check service, I checked to see if it had data on a celebrity I knew had quite a lengthy record: Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. He famously had legal problems and tax issues, so I was curious to see if Intelius could provide me with that data.
Creating an account with Intelius is technically “free.” But there is one, huge caveat with that fact. Signing up is free, but you have to pay for either individual reports or pay a monthly subscription fee if you actually want to see any information.
Helpfully, the particular report I was searching for was right at the top, even though there are multiple people with the name “Robert Downey.”
After you choose a person, you also have to select one of three report levels. Each gives you different kinds of data.
The first is the People Search Report, which contains the following information:
The second level is People Search Plus. It contains all of the People Search report data, plus two additional data categories:
The third level is Background Report plus. It contains everything in “People Search Plus,” plus seven additional data categories:
Because I wanted as much data as possible on Robert Downey, Jr., I went with the highest, “Background Report” level.
The report page is neatly organized. It has a tidy summary of the data at top, and you can click on any section in order to get more comprehensive data. However, the data that it actually offers is lackluster.
Some of the data it provides is accurate and interesting, such as the address and phone numbers. It also lists Deborah Falconer (his wife from 1992-2004) and Susan Downey (his wife from 2005) as relatives. The report says that he was a student at Santa Monica High School and Perry House School, which I confirmed to be accurate.
But things start to get shakier when looking at court records. Shockingly, it claims that Robert Downey, Jr., who famously had multiple run ins with the law, as no criminal records at all in California.
Though, Intelius does list two civil court judgements — liens that stem from his personal tax issues.
However, there is an option to upgrade the report so that it searches for records in all 50 states for an additional $19.99. I thought I might be unable to unlock the additional by paying for that.
But when I paid to access the data, I didn’t see any additional information. In fact, it simply said that there was no criminal records data available for all 50 states.
Overall, the criminal records for Intelius seem to be a bust.
Intelius also drops the ball on social profiles. It wasn’t able to find any, despite the fact that Robert Downey, Jr. has very active Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
In addition to being able to search by name, you can search for people by their phone number. However, how it works is a little wonky. It connects the phone number to a name, then searches for all background check reports with that name. So it might be useful for someone with an uncommon name. But otherwise, it will be tough to narrow down the exact person a particular phone number belongs to.
There is also an option to search people by email address. Though in my experience in trying it out, the database of email addresses is fairly limited.
Strangely, the dashboard of Intelius tells me that reports are viewable for only 45 days after records. If I want to keep them longer than that, it advises me to print them out for my records. It’s unclear why I can’t just keep records longer than that, and why I should have to resort to such a low tech method just to have the records I paid for.
You can buy individual reports, or you have the option to subscribe to a monthly “Premier” membership for $19.95. This gives you unlimited searches for reports that give you basic information.
Intelius gives you have the additional option of upgrading to the Intelius Premier Plus membership for $29.95 a month. In addition to unlimited searches, you also receive one voucher for a full background report a month.
It’s important to note that even this “background report” doesn’t give you 100% of the data that they could possibly give you. Like I mentioned earlier, information such as criminal records from all 50 states are still an extra charge.
If all that sounds complex and needlessly confusing — it is. Trying to figure out which option you actually need and what is the best value for your money feels like doing your taxes.
On the positive side, that some of the most basic data I was looking for was there. If you’re looking for fundamental information, like birth date, address, phone number, and maybe easy to find court records, you’ll find it. But a surprising amount of data just wasn’t available. For example, I wasn’t able to find any of the criminal cases of social media profiles I was looking for.
On top of all that, the pricing system of Intelius is confusing and more complex than it has to be. Most bafflingly of all, the fact that there is a 45 day limit on reports gives users little incentive to renew their monthly subscription.
Overall, other, newer online background check platforms such as Truthfinder and Instant Checkmate provide a better experience and more accurate and comprehensive data. Intelius might have been one of the first services to provide online background checks, but through the course of their many years online they’ve allowed competitors who provide better data and more useful experience to outpace them.