- User-friendly report format
- Easy searches
- Block calls via smartphone app
- Affordable prices
- No data on assets or liens
- Lacks report clarification
There’s any number of reasons why you might want to use a background check service, but being able to reunite with people is perhaps one of the quirkiest. Spokeo is one such tool, a background check and data organization service where the miracle of information gathering is utilized to bring people together. The site was founded by four Stanford University graduates who in the early days only pulled data from social media sites, but as time went on they upgraded the search engine piece by piece, and now members have access to a full portfolio complete with criminal records, a family tree and even property values.
In order to help people better accommodate themselves into Spokeo the company has made the whole experience user-friendly, which is one of the reasons why over 18 million people have decided to subscribe to the service. On top of all that members can enjoy the benefits of a smartphone app that recognizes unknown numbers or sends push notifications whenever their subject’s profile is updated with new information.
As a background checking service Spokeo aims to inform its members about numerous aspects of their subject’s life, however there are two particular features that distinguish it from other sites of this sort. First is how Spokeo offers an alternative search method that mirrors a phone book. Here you can alphabetically browse through the family names of millions of U.S. residents, which is very helpful if none of the standard searches have revealed satisfying results.
The second noteworthy feature is tied to the smartphone app of Spokeo, which grants subscribed users the ability to identify unknown numbers of incoming calls by cross-referencing it in a database. This way you’ll already know who is on the other end of the line, even if it’s the first time they try to contact you. Not only that but identified numbers can be pre-emptively blocked, too.
Spokeo gathers information from more than 50 offline and online sources, including public records. The data is organized into a comprehensive data sheet about your target, closely resembling an in-depth CV. The list starts with key pieces of information such as name, birth date, age, current location and a photo if it’s available – a necessity for checking whether or not you’re looking at the right person.
But Spokeo can also go into detail, starting with the subject’s extended contact info. It’s interesting that the site has the capacity to collect the net worth of someone’s past and current properties and even the name of other residents that have occupied the building, which are all valuable leads when trying to find someone in particular. Unfortunately, that’s the only relevant asset you’ll find in the report because cars or investments aren’t listed.
The next section is probably the most interesting one as it shows the person’s court records, although Spokeo warns users that the information might not pertain to the person in question. Sadly, the report doesn’t go too deep into the cases, mentioning only the nature of the crime, the country where it happened and the sources from where the records originate. The court ruling and whether the sentence was served isn’t listed.
The service wraps up the report with the subject’s relatives, social media platforms and a neat feature that marketing experts will surely welcome called insights. This is where Spokeo’s fabled organization method comes in, as they present a whole library of miscellaneous information about the target, mined from a vast number of sources. It’s possible to learn what kind of hobbies the person has, what their favorite types of sports are and what their income range is, to name just a few. Whether you’re interested in scouting someone for the purpose of marketing analytics or seek to reconnect with an old schoolmate, this is a treasure trove of information.
The site encourages everyone to test its search engine, which is considered to be free to use. A search bar is featured at the bottom of the main page where the various parameters for the search algorithm can be set. Users are able to find someone by entering the subject’s name, email, phone number or address. The first option is straightforward, but it’s possible that you’ll end up with multiple results. The good thing about searching with an email address, however, is that this might retrieve the target’s social media accounts that are cross-linked too. Interestingly, doing an address based search has a chance to bring up valuable details about the house or even highlight any sex offence charges from the neighborhood, meaning that Spokeo can be used to verify the price of a house that you intend to buy.
Ease of Use
The user interface isn’t overcomplicated and first-time visitors won’t find it a problem to accommodate themselves. The main search bar is the first thing you’ll see on the site and only a little digging will reveal the option to do a reverse search. If you are curious as to what Spokeo has up its sleeve and wish to have a sneak peek into a complete background report, then you’ll find a template for a fictional account that helps to get an idea of what the service is all about.
The same level of convenience awaits those who use the website on their smartphone thanks to a dedicated app. Even though browsing the reports is far more efficient on a larger screen, Spokeo compensates users with the option to block incoming calls from subjects that you’ve completed a search on.
Spokeo pulls data from multiple sources both online or offline, but it still only mines data from public sources such as social media pages, marketing surveys and real estate listings. The site is confident enough in the data reliability to offer the service for businesses and large teams too.
Despite insisting that the background reports on offer don’t constitute as credit reports and that the information cannot be used for employment screenings, the data gathered by the search algorithm could still be very useful for marketing agencies or house hunters. Nevertheless, it’s important to stress that the presented data may not be 100% accurate or up to date. It’s also highly likely that most results won’t mirror the sample profile in terms of the richness of data.
Security & Privacy
The site’s business model allows customers to search the database without an upfront payment or a dedicated account, however access to any information other than someone’s name, age or location requires a premium subscription. Upon signing up there’s a choice between a solo membership or registering as an enterprise, with the former promising unlimited access to the database and the latter grants business owners the option to check out a specific number of reports dictated by the subscription plan.
As a private individual there are two choices on offer: the casual plan grants one month of membership for $13.95 while the moderate user plan provides full freedom for three months by charging $7.95 per month. The basic business plan costs $35.95 each month and in exchange a whole team can view up to 200 reports. There are two higher tier enterprise plans, though, with more expensive plans also raising the number of reports that can be viewed, up to a maximum of 1,000 reports.
There is the added option for a refund should the service not be satisfactory, though there are no specific stipulations under which this is available – instead Spokeo insists that you must get in touch with customer service to request the refund directly and discuss any issues you have with the service.
Spokeo has received a stellar A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, a testament to the strength of the relationship it has with its customers. The helpdesk assistants are available every day of the week during workhours and staff members are dedicated solely to helping out those who wish to prevent their profile from popping up in searches.
The customer service team awaits any question over the phone or via email, but it’s possible to also request a chat call for opting out of the searches. The site maintains a considerable activity on Facebook and Twitter, too, and it has even established a YouTube channel where it shares inspirational videos on how people have been helped to reunite with their loved ones through the service.
Spokeo is a special kind of background check service that focuses on a smooth user experience, a comprehensible search system, and presents a well-organized, easy-to-read report. At it its core the site is only really best utilized by those wishing to reconnect with an old friend or check the credibility of a new neighbor since the end results lack information about the subject’s financial or loan status and also fails to provide a necessary explanation for certain terms, all of which are considered to be pillars for a professional background check service.
Smartphone support is another strong point of Spokeo, however, and it deserves a pat on the back for the clever innovation that allows users to identify mysterious callers and even block them. The service is also a viable option for marketing businesses so long they don’t use it for screening employees. With a budget-friendly pricing across numerous subscription options to choose from there’s a package suitable for anyone, although it’s necessary to first become a member for at least a month rather than allowing for the purchase of individual standalone reports.