People Search vs Background Check Sites [Details & Differences]


Have you ever wanted to find out what your old high school friends are up to these days? Or perhaps you felt tempted to run a background check on your shady new neighbor? These are just some of the situations where people search and background check sites come in handy.

We’re going to show you how these two types of searches are different and help you figure out whether you need a people search site or if you should opt for some of the best background check sites out there.

People Search Sites

The first thing we need to clarify is: what are these sites and how do they work?

Well, people finder sites are (as the name suggests) websites that let you locate an online persona, usually through cross-referencing different online databases.

Apart from online data, these search sites also conduct a database search of any accessible public records.

So, what are the reasons people decide to use these websites? Well, first of all, they may be simply looking to get back in touch with an old friend or relative. Other than that, they may be wondering how to find someone if they only know their phone number or address. These are just some of the services that people finder websites provide. They can differ depending on the website and on how much you are willing to pay. Overall, most people search sites offer the following:

Finding a Lost Friend or Family Member

Even though these searches can now be easily done through social media, sometimes a more detailed search is needed. This is where people finders come in handy, with numerous tools, such as reverse name lookup, etc.

Looking Up the Backgrounds of Potential Employees or New Neighbors

In most cases, people want to be sure that their new employees or neighbors are law-abiding citizens and have no criminal history.

Reverse Telephone Lookup

This service gives you a way to find information on someone if you only know their phone number.

Address Lookup

If you’ve ever wondered how to find out where someone lives, people finder sites can help you with that. Most of them provide this information for free, actually. A reverse address lookup is also a possibility – used if you know someone’s address, but don’t know other basic information about them.

Reverse Email Lookup

This option provides basic information on people if you only know their email address.

People finders are great because more or less anyone can use them and they can provide some very useful information. All you need to know about the person you are looking for is:

  • Their name
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Sometimes it is enough to know only one of the three. Here we need to note that different people finders provide different results – while most of them will reveal the basic civil records of the person you are looking for, only the best people search sites (such as Intelius or Truthfinder) will fill you in on more details, such as their phone numbers, social media accounts, etc. This extra information, however, often comes with a fee.

Background Check Sites

Let’s say you are looking to hire a new employee, but you want to make sure that everything they wrote in their resume is true. If this is the case, background check sites (such as Checkr) are just what you need. Apart from checking someone’s employment history, these websites can help you run any kind of background check on more or less anyone.

Everything you need to know, from education to whether or not someone has a criminal record, can be found through these search sites. Most people use background check websites to check other people’s:

  • Criminal records
  • Education
  • Employment history
  • Other past activities – these may include a variety of things, such as credit history, address records, etc.

Before you decide to use one of these websites, you need to make sure that you are aware of what background sites show and what they can be used for. Most well-known background check websites will ask you for your own personal details, so there is always a possibility that you are held legally accountable if you misuse the information given to you. That’s why it’s important you look for sites operating in strict accordance with FCRA if you want to use them for a tenant check or to look up an employee.

You should also know what information is needed for a background check before you conduct one. This also varies depending on the type of check you need.

Types of Background Check Sites

Depending on what kind of information you need, there are different types of background check websites. Some of the most frequently used are:

Employment Background Checks

These websites are naturally most often used by employers looking for background check information on their prospective employees’ working history – who they worked for, why they left, reasons for contract termination, etc.

Criminal Background Checks

These are often used by employers, but also by landlords. These checks allow you to find out details about anyone’s criminal history. These are very often paid because they require a public records background check in order to compile accurate results.

Professional Licenses Background Checks

These are often used for credential verification, most usually by employers who require specific types of workers. Forging degrees and certificates happens more often than you might think, hence it comes as no surprise that there’s a need for such checks.

International Background Checks

These may come in handy if you want to look at the background check records of someone who spent some time abroad or you are an employer hiring from overseas.

Credit Background Checks

These background check websites are mostly used by banks or other money lending institutions in order to get a full credit check and obtain other important financial information before approving a loan.

What Works Best for You?

Now, it’s up to you to decide whether you need to use a background check website or a people finder website.

To sum it up: if you simply need to locate someone or find some basic information (phone number, address, etc.) about an individual, your needs will most probably be met by a people search website. These sites allow you to get basic information on anyone. All you need to know is their name and the city they reside in. People finder sites can give you more detailed information, such as social media accounts or images and mobile phone numbers, but those will usually cost you a little extra.

Background check sites, on the other hand, would have a little different target audience. These websites should be used with great caution because some of them give access to sensitive information. This is why you should always know what a background check entails before you decide to conduct one.

They are most commonly used by employers and landlords who need to perform background checks on their potential employees/tenants. They can also be used for different types of background reports and verification checks.

Many of these websites offer both people finding and background check services in one place. Some examples of such websites are Truthfinder,, Intelius, and many others.


How to do your own background check?

Basically, you need to enter your own details into a background check site’s search bar and check the results you get. The same way you would look up anyone else. In case the website asks you for your personal information, you can ask someone else to conduct the search for you and share the results.

How do I find personal information on someone?

In most cases, a people finder site would do just fine. The question here is just how detailed the information you need is. If you need mobile numbers or social media accounts, it could cost you a bit.

How can you locate someone?

One of the first questions that brings you to people search sites is “How do I find someone if I don’t know a lot about them?”. Well, with most people finders, all you usually need to know is a person’s name and their last known place of residence. The search engine does the rest.


My eyes rarely take a break from staring at my laptop's screen—I am Big Brother, scanning the web for news and information worth sharing. Full transparency—a substantial chunk of my screentime is also dedicated to watching TV shows, but balance is key, right? Writing is how I choose to share my findings with the world while keeping my love of language and creativity alive.

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