Is There a Totally Free Background Check?

Written By
I. Mitic
July 10,2023

There’s no doubt that using a background check service is a smart idea - especially if you’re looking up whom you’re about to go on a date with. You can’t be safe enough when meeting someone new. People do background checks for many reasons, and today many services offer to run a check for you, although at a cost.

But what if you don’t want to spend any money on a background check? Is there a totally free background check at all? The answer is... sort of. In this article, we will cover some alternative ways to do background checks, all of them completely free, but also compare these free methods to paid services. Read on to find out all about it.

How Background Checks Work

A background search is a process of investigating someone’s history as a method of verifying whether they truly are who they claim to be.

The exact details of what is included in a background check will vary depending on the country, state, or organization involved, but they typically involve some combination of criminal record checks, reference checks, and credit checks. In some cases, additional steps such as arrest records or psychological evaluation may also be included.

The goal of a background check is to gather information about an individual so that you can make an informed decision about them.

While it is legal to conduct a free criminal record check, it can also be against the law to share the information you find. Furthermore, some US background check cases, such as pre-employment and tenant screening, are now restricted under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

This specifically means employers mustn’t use the results of background checks to discriminate against the applicants. You’ll often see this disclaimer on background checking apps and sites, too.

It’s important to note that background checks are not always accurate. Public records can be incomplete or out of date, and credit reports may contain errors. As a result, someone can be denied an apartment or job even though they don’t have a criminal record or bad credit.

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to double-check the results of a background check before making any decisions.

Is There a Totally Free Background Check?

A background check is a process that could take away many precious hours if you would conduct it by yourself. That’s why many companies offer background checking services, at a fee, of course.

Private investigators can also help you complete a background check on a person. It should go without saying that no private investigator will work for free. So, the question is clear - is there a free people search tool or a service?

You’ve probably heard about the websites that offer background checking services. Maybe you’ve seen some of them offering free service or even claiming that you can run full, detailed searches without spending any cash. But, there’s always a catch, and you’ll probably have to pay a fee to get access to full reports.

These free background check services typically only give you limited information, such as a person’s criminal history, with the rest sitting behind a paywall.

Luckily, there are some ways to still get that information that won’t cost you a dime.

Performing a Background Check on Your Own

There are methods for performing a free people search that don’t involve any services usually associated with this action. Some of them don’t even require an internet connection, making them a great starting point when you want to look up someone’s information.

In this section, we’ll go over several ways to look people up and conduct background checks. All of the tools and methods mentioned here are absolutely free but with varying success rates.

Public Records

A common way to get someone’s background information is to check the public records. This can include criminal records, bankruptcy filings, and property ownership information. Most of this information is available online, but some of it may only be accessed through your local courthouse or county clerk’s office.

After all, this is what most background checking services use as a starting point, so why wouldn’t you do the same.

Looking for people using criminal databases can be an effective way to find out more about them. Keep in mind that, despite this method being a totally free criminal background check, the databases are not always accurate and up-to-date.

They may only include information on people who have been convicted of a crime, not those who have simply been arrested. Furthermore, not all crimes are included in these databases - many traffic offenses will not appear in a criminal database. 

Of course, just because someone appears in a criminal database does not mean they are necessarily a bad person. There may be extenuating circumstances that led to their inclusion in the database. Therefore, do treat people with respect and dignity, regardless of their criminal history.

Social Networks

Social media websites can also be used for conducting searches and background checks. A lot of people post information about their personal lives on social media, which can be used to get a better idea of their character.

Social networking platforms allow you to search for people by their email address or phone number. This can be a good way to find someone’s social media profile if you don’t know their full name.

Some of the platforms you can use for free people check are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • LinkedIn

One big caveat for this method is that people need to have their profiles set to public and, well, actually post any personal information on these platforms. If they hide any information from unregistered users, which is quite common nowadays, or don’t post very frequently, you probably won’t have much luck using this method.

The most popular search engine can be your friend when you’re looking for people and initiating a background check on them. A simple Google search can reveal a lot of information about someone. Try searching for their name, email address, phone number, or social media username. If they have any online presence, chances are search engines will find it.

In some cases, you might get lucky and find the person’s home address, place of work, or even a phone number. This can be helpful if you want to contact them in person but don’t have their contact information. Not bad for a free background checker.

Other Background Check Methods

Another way to get background information on someone is to simply ask around. Talk to friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances to see if they know anything about the person you’re interested in. You’d be surprised how quickly you might find the information from your connections and friends.

Free vs. Paid Background Check Sites

Now that we’ve looked at how to run a background check without spending any money, let’s compare that to the services that do charge a fee.

Free online background check methods have several potential downsides. First, the accuracy of the information contained in these reports can be incomplete. In addition, many free online services do not include a comprehensive range of information.

For example, they may only include data from publicly available records. As a result, individuals who use such methods to look up people may not be getting the complete picture.

Finally, free background check apps often require users to provide personal information, such as their Social Security number or date of birth. This information can then be used for identity theft or other malicious purposes. For these reasons, be aware of the potential downsides of free online services before using them.

Paid background check services also have access to databases that free sites don’t. This means they can provide you with information that is precise and recent. On top of that, paid services will do all the legwork for you. This includes searching through public records and databases and contacting people who may have information about the person you’re interested in.

That’s why more and more people are turning to paid background check services. For a small fee, these companies will comb through public records to find out if someone has a criminal history, has been evicted from a rental property, or has had any other red flags in their past.

While it’s no guarantee of safety, using a paid service can give you peace of mind when making important decisions about the people in your life.

There are also some potential downsides to consider. One of the main concerns is that paid background checks can be expensive, particularly for small businesses. A background check, free or paid, can take a considerable amount of time to complete, which can be problematic when you don’t have much time.

Finally, there is always the possibility that background checks will miss something important. While this is unlikely, be aware of the possibility. Overall, paid background checks are a valuable tool, but they should be used with care.

So, while you can find some information by running a background check on your own, you’ll likely get more accurate and comprehensive results by using a paid service.

There are a number of popular free tools available online, aside from the methods we mentioned earlier. While each one has its strengths and weaknesses, they all offer a valuable service for those looking to check someone’s background.

One such site is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The NCIC is a computerized database of criminal justice information maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). An absolutely free background check can be performed on any individual by using the resources available on this website. The NCIC does not provide personal information about an individual unless it’s determined there is a legitimate law enforcement interest in doing so.

Another popular checker is the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the FBI. The CJIS Division provides support services to law enforcement, intelligence, and homeland security communities.

One of the services offered by the CJIS Division is a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that can be used by firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective buyers. To use the NICS, you must have a Federal Firearms License (FFL).

The last free background check app we’ll mention is the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). The NSOPW is a searchable database of registered sex offenders. The website allows you to search for sex offenders by name, location, or other identifying information. You can also sign up for email alerts that notify you if a registered sex offender moves into your area.


To summarize, there are ways to run a free background check, but they’re time-consuming and require a lot of manual labor. You’ll probably end up with all the data you were looking for, but instead of a few minutes, it may take hours or even days of work. That’s why many people prefer using services dedicated to this type of task.


Where can I see criminal records for free?


There are several ways you can access criminal records for free. One way is to check the public records at your local courthouse or county clerk’s office. Another way is to search for the person online using a social networking platform like Facebook. You can also try doing a Google search of the person’s name. However, keep in mind that the information you find using these methods will probably be limited.

Is there a website for free background checks?


Several websites do offer such a service, albeit in limited scope. For instance, some sites might only provide information that’s already in public records. Additionally, the information you’ll receive from a free site is likely to be less recent and accurate than what you would get from a paid service.

What app is free for a background check?


Social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be helpful in finding more information about people. Of course, the quality of that data completely depends on whether the person you’re looking for has been keeping their information updated or even set their profile to public.

What is the most thorough background check?


Paid background check services will typically provide you with more accurate and comprehensive results than free sites. This is because they have access to databases that free sites don’t. Is there a totally free background check, then? Yes, free services exist but don’t expect as comprehensive results as with premium services.

About author

For years, the clients I worked for were banks. That gave me an insider’s view of how banks and other institutions create financial products and services. Then I entered the world of journalism. Fortunly is the result of our fantastic team’s hard work. I use the knowledge I acquired as a bank copywriter to create valuable content that will help you make the best possible financial decisions.

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