In a Nutshell
- Tailored public records, court and criminal records searches
- Access to data from 65+ social media networks
- Search by social network username
- Some search options are hard to find
- Limited number of monthly searches
- Searches conducted in real time
- Three-tier pricing model
Unlike other background check websites we reviewed, Spokeo’s technology trawls through records in real time. This means there’s no need for databases to be updated, because results should always be accurate to the minute.
Spokeo has access to both public and private records. In addition, it trawls through the internet for information on a person’s online presence. This includes any type of online profile, and not just social media network information.
When we tested for accuracy by running a number of searches, however, we found that our success depended on the type of search we carried out.
The results of our basic searches were mostly accurate when we looked up younger individuals with no known criminal record, but inaccurate or incomplete when we searched for known criminals, including serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and the subject of Netflix’s Making a Murderer documentary Steven Avery. Running tailored criminal searches did the trick for both Steven Avery and Jeffrey Dahmer. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to try running a number of different searches, especially if you suspect that the person you’re looking up may have a criminal record.
Ease of Use
Using Spokeo’s basic search feature is simple enough.
The homepage is built around Spokeo’s search widget. You simply click on the type of search you want to run, key in the details, and click search. You can run a search with as little as a first name. The initial search is reasonably fast, and you can expect results in a matter of seconds.
The problem is that some of Spokeo’s more advanced (and useful) features will not be readily apparent unless you know about them. More to the point, we discovered Spokeo’s tailored public records, criminal records and court records searches purely by accident when we tried to run an address search by keying in only a state. Indeed, it seems that this is the only way you can access these search options. We could not find any dedicated links on the homepage or anywhere else on the website, which is a shame.
Thankfully, the reports are beautifully laid out. The information is divided into categories to make it easily digestible; and a table of contents at the left of the report makes navigating the different sections a breeze.
The information in a Spokeo report will depend on the type of search you carry out.
Basic information includes an address history, a list of known relatives, phone numbers, email addresses, and detailed social media information, including known social media handles, photos and videos, and even recent blog posts and updates.
Because Spokeo carries out a deep social media search, you can turn up information on anyone with an online presence, wherever they are in the world. This is great if the person you’re looking for is not located in the US; and makes Spokeo ideal if you need to search for someone internationally.
Of course, criminal history, public records, and court records searches will turn up the most detailed reports. You’ll get information on judgements, divorce and marriage records, sex offender records, and comprehensive criminal information, including arrest records and information on any outstanding warrants.
Spokeo has an excellent selection of search options, making it easy to carry out both a basic search as well as tailored searches for specific results.
You can run a total of four basic types of search on Spokeo: a name search, social search, reverse phone lookup, or search by address. The social search is unique, in that it allows you to search for someone using a social network username or handle - great if you’ve been talking to someone online but don’t know their real name.
Once you’ve conducted your initial search, you can narrow down your results further by adding additional information on the person you’re looking for. Besides a middle initial and city, which we’ve seen on many other background check sites we reviewed, Spokeo has a number of unique modifiers that can prove really effective at honing in on the right person. These include phone number, last known address, and even the name and surname of a relative.
But that’s not all. Spokeo also has tailored public records, court records, and criminal records searches. You can run these for a given state or nationwide. There’s also has a phone directory you can manually search by area code and a list of the most searched people names in a given week - great to help you identify phone scammers and other annoying unknown callers without having to run a full search.
You can get in touch with Spokeo by phone, by email, via live chat, or by opening a support ticket on their website.
The live chat is only available Mondays to Fridays between 8:00am and 5:00pm PST. However, the toll-free phone number is available 24 hours a day. A dedicated email team is also available 24 hours a day.
Spokeo’s website also has an FAQ section. This is rather barebones when compared to some of the knowledge-bases we’ve seen on other background check companies; and mostly deals with basic product and subscription questions. For this reason, Spokeo doesn’t get full marks in this category. With that being said, customer support is still well above average compared to some other services we reviewed.
Spokeo has three price plans. All three offer the same level of functionality, with the difference between them being that they get progressively cheaper the more months of membership you pay for up front.
A month to month membership costs $19.95 a month. A three-month membership brings the price down to $14.95 a month; and a twelve-month membership will bring the price down even further to $7.95 a month.
These prices are significantly cheaper than a lot of the competition. With that being said, Spokeo doesn’t score as highly in this category as it should because there’s a limit to the number of searches you can carry out each month. Your quota will reset each month, and you cannot roll unused searches over to the next month.
This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you only plan to use the service occasionally or even moderately. If you’re a heavy user, however, you may find yourself buying additional searches each month, which could make your subscription costlier than you bargained for. Besides, it’s hard to understand why Spokeo has adopted this approach when the vast majority of other background check services we reviewed offer unlimited searches.
Flexibility, accuracy, and a great price make Spokeo a great choice for occasional and moderate background check website users alike. And because it covers public profiles on more than 65 social media networks, it’s ideal if you want to look up someone internationally.