- Ability to purchase individual reports
- Sample report
- Two-day free trial
- Barebones report system
- Impractical layout
- Lacks smartphone support
The idea of accessing digitalized versions of public records is relatively new, but if you are looking for the forefather of this kind of service then US Search is the one to know. The site has been in business for 20 years now, although it’s still worth asking how it has managed to hold up after so much time. This question is especially relevant when considering US Search is part of the People Connect network, whose flagship title Intelius offers a similar service. Nevertheless, US Search is still worth a look since it provides various search modes including reports on people, criminal histories and full background investigations. The basic people search mode can be tested via the two-day trial, while the more detailed reports are illustrated with a sample profile.
US Search is a public record search engine that specializes in three areas: looking up the whereabouts and basic details of a person, collecting court records and creating background check reports. The site focuses solely on these features and provides very few extras in the process. Having three separate report types offers the novel option to only pay for information that you really need. If the goal is to find someone’s vehicle violations or to check whether they have committed a felony, then choosing to buy the criminal record over the complete background check can save you a pretty penny. In any case, US Search will at least present a sample report for each of report types so users can be certain about which one fits their needs.
There are three reports types to choose from: people search, criminal record check in a given state and the all-inclusive background report. The key difference between them is the number of categories featured in the document. People search is the most basic among the three since it will check info about the subject’s full name, age, address history, phone number, and associates such as friends or close relatives. If one of the family members becomes of interest, then the site allows the instant launching of a second search from within the report. People search is ideal for those seeking a way to reconnect with someone from the past.
Criminal record checks can be only conducted in one specific state of your choosing. The results include everything that the previous report has to offer coupled with the court records and criminal charge history of the person in question. This section lists the jurisdiction, the case numbers, the location of any offense and the number of related offenses, among other important details of each case. Keep in mind that the results only cover one state, however, and so you’ll need to perform – and purchase – several reports if you’re unsure about where the crime has taken place.
The background report is the ace in the sleeve for US Search. It’s the most comprehensive method of searching and incorporates the data from the previous two reports and tops it off with a number of additions. The first is property ownership records followed by bankruptcies, which also investigates civil judgements and any possible liens. Running a full background check is the only way to learn about these particular details. There’s also the subject’s related social media pages too, albeit the source list is very limited in this regard.
US Search doesn’t shy away from presenting all its options right at the front gate. Each of the three variations are instantly accessible from the main page, while everything else can be found in the upper half of the menu. It’s worth mentioning that unlike many other background check services, US Search enables the user to look up someone by entering only the family name, although providing a first name and the state of residence will narrow down the results immensely. It’s also possible to search someone via their phone number, address or email. These are par for the course, but the cherry on top is the ability to find someone’s social media accounts too.
Ease of Use
Unfortunately, the service isn’t exactly easy on the eyes; the site has a bland feeling to it, provides very little explanation or guidance on how the system actually works and what the service has to offer, leaving first-time users completely in the dark. The search process is very quick, though, taking only a few seconds to come up with the results, but the report structure is again just as clunky as the overall website. The problem is that US Search commits the grave mistake of pouring all its information into one slim column and so readers are forced to either scroll extensively through the text or constantly jump between paragraphs using the navigation bar featured at the top of the list.
It’s also disappointing that the site doesn’t have a smartphone app or desktop client as is the case with much of the competition. Despite the fact that very few people make background checks from their phone, the added benefit of being able to identify unknown numbers is dearly missed.
US Search doesn’t specify the sources it pulls data from, therefore it’s hard to judge whether the final information is all that useful. When running a search, the site is cryptic about which details it has found until you decide to pay, leaving the door open for disappointment. Since background check services rely on digitally available public records there is also a possibility that the info you are looking for only exists on paper and not online, and in this case US Search won’t be able to help. Considering that even the sample reports that are presented by the site are full of empty sections, the chances are high you’ll run into missing information as well.
Security & Privacy
US Search utilizes an industry standard 128-bit encryption to secure the library of personal information it has stored, as well as safeguarding the billing data that you provide when subscribing or purchasing a report. The site also emphasizes its valid security certificate as proven by the padlock symbol on all pages that involve private data transmission.
For those wishing to disappear from the search results, the site allows users to permanently hide such data from anyone else using the site. The link for doing so is hidden within the FAQ section under ‘Website Features’. Visiting the opt-out page will display a unique search field that must be used to find your profile. The request is 100% private and after verifying your identity the staff will ensure it no longer appears in searches within a week. However, remember that this doesn’t erase your data from the public records.
When you’ve found the report that you are looking for there are two options for accessing it and both involve some form of payment, either purchasing that particular report for a one-time fee or subscribing to the special OmniSearch membership that provides unlimited access to the people search database – including the subject’s name, aliases, address history, phone number, and social network – for a whole month. Doing so costs $19.95 and is renewed every 30 days.
Alternatively, US Search offers a quarterly plan that reduces the monthly fee to $16.61 per month. The problem with the OmniSearch membership is that it’s the unlimited version of the people search report and if you wish to conduct an advanced search – such as a criminal report or background check – then you will still need to spend money on them.
In case you decide to make use of one-time fees instead, then a people search result costs $2.45, a criminal record is $14.95, while opting for a full background check costs $39.95. Interestingly, these prices can be cut down greatly by choosing the alluring ‘Report + OmniSearch’ deal, but exercise caution here because there is a catch: the offer immediately activates the two-day trial. When this ends, the system automatically subscribes you to the OmniSearch membership and deducts $19.95 from your bank account.
There is very little to mention about the customer service of US Search. The site isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau and the only way to troubleshoot the service is to submit an online ticket and wait for a reply. The live staff can be reached over the phone on workdays during business hours, but they prefer to use this channel for canceling subscriptions. USSearch.com in general is light on details, forcing users to explore the help center for any kind of information. On top of all that, US Search is completely devoid of a social media presence and so you cannot even consult the staff on Facebook or Twitter.
US Search is lackluster in many areas. It presents all the necessary categories that you might expect from a background check service and the search engine is demonstrably fast with multiple ways of initiating, but that’s sadly where the praise ends. The site has a very unintuitive design, which also applies to the structure of the reports too. Coupled with the fact that any introduction or description is shoved away into the FAQ makes it extremely difficult for newcomers to assess the possibilities of the service.
US Search also lacks smartphone support or any noteworthy feature that could give it an edge over other public record search sites and with all these issues in mind the pricing is a bit expensive, especially the background checks. The monthly subscription only covers the most basic personal results and so you must still pay individually for advanced report types like criminal records or bankruptcies. The trial period only lasts for two days and by choosing the discount deal you’ll risk automatically subscribing to the monthly membership. In the end, US Search is only recommended if it’s only the basic credentials of someone that you’re interested in, because the advanced reports are a gamble.