Been Verified Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

Been Verified incorporates a wealth of good features and manages a seamless blend of tech and old fashioned leg work that gives you a wealth of info and the ability to dig really deep.

4.8
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Comprehensive standard search
  • Tech savvy

Cons

  • Option for non-digital searches

Meh

  • “Premium” databases don’t always deliver much more

Who is Been Verified?

Founded in 2007, tech-savvy Been Verified is based in New York City. This fast-growing company has one of the most popular background check sites on the market. Started by a pair of young entrepreneurs, Been Verified now has more than 50 employees, over 100,000 subscribers and boasts 10 million visits each month.

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Been Verified Pricing and Plans

One feature that sets Been Verified apart from many other in the field are the apps available for iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches or Android devices.

Expensive if all you need is a single basic search, Been Verified’s three-tiered monthly subscription schedule gives you a break the longer you sign up for – $22.86 for a month, $14.86 a month for three months and $9.83 a month for six months. Though pricey for a single search, Been Verified gives you far more info than some other sites and could be the better choice depending on how important it is to get the answers you’re looking for.

For an extra $9.95 per report you can access additional databases that provide more comprehensive info like employment and education histories and any licenses and permits the person you’re looking for might have.

Been Verified also goes the extra mile to search out records unavailable online by offering a “Court Runner” option for searching county criminal court records that have not been digitized. Cost for a  “Court Runner” typically starts with a flat fee of just under $20 and ultimately includes any court fees incurred along the way.

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How to Use Been Verified?

Been Verified does a great job of meeting its deceptively simple goals of providing the most info for the best price quickly and painlessly. This is an excellent site if you’re doing your first background check. It’s a site that practically takes your hand and leads you through the whole process, often answering questions you haven’t even thought of yet.

I’d recommend this site if you’re attempting to perform your first background check.

Clean, uncluttered webpages make using Been Verified almost second nature and the site displays results in an easy-to-read format with an option for downloading an equally straightforward, printable PDF.

Sign up

Been Verified’s sign up process is a breeze and, as an added bonus, a painless and comprehensive tutorial on the do’s and don’ts of private background checks. Even better, the sign up process provides a number of surprising and helpful suggestions on who you might want to check out and why – from locating the long lost relative of a seriously ill friend or checking to see if those misdemeanors you committed in junior high have been properly removed from your records.

Standard search

The site’s standard search is so extensive, notably including criminal info, that it’s likely you’re not going to need to pay extra for a deeper search.

The standard search turns up public phone numbers, email addresses, a residential history, immediate relatives (noting those who are deceased), any imposters, available educational and professional info, social media presence, photos, criminal and traffic records and bankruptcies.

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At every step, Been Verified politely and conscientiously reminds you what you should and should not be using the info for. It also goes a step further, providing a number of testimonials which detail the many uses for background checks.

Premium data

This feature is just as easy to use as the rest of the site, pretty much clicking on a single button to quickly update the report (for a fee of course) with more educational, employment, financial, and contact info.

Social media monitoring

There is also an option for monitoring any changes in the social media presence of someone you’ve searched for.

Reverse phone lookup

Is just what it sounds like it is: enter a phone number in the search field and find out who it belongs (though only if it is a public number).

Customer service

Been Verified goes out of its way to make it easy to get help, staffing a call center 7 days a week and providing ample online assistance. Unusually for a website, the “Support” section under the Help heading at the bottom of the webpage actually provides useful info on how for DIY tasks like cancelling your subscription, explaining why you’re having trouble with your search, downloading an app or using a specific browser.

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How Good is Been Verified Data?

Results on the searches I performed were nearly universally quick, accurate and comprehensive. Searching for one of the roommates I shared a flat with in San Francisco more decades ago than I care to remember, not only turned up all the current info for him I could’ve hoped for, but also that apartment address in SF as well and several email addresses, too. Searching with premium data unearthed limited employment data, an additional phone number and the fact he once had a pilot’s license (who knew?). A self search revealed that, no, I was never arrested on some of those nights in San Francisco that I don’t remember so good and a very old satellite photo of my current residence.

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How do I Cancel Been Verified?

Cancellation was so simple I forgot I’d done it! I had to go back and double-check myself. Here’s how it works: simply call customer service (1-888-579-5910) or email: support@beenverified.com.

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Been Verified Final Thoughts

I’d have to say you’d need to look around for a while to find a better value than Been Verified, especially if you’re planning on doing a lot of searches over several months. Although some sites charge considerably less for a single search you might want to consider Been Verified if that single search is a really important one – in the long run you could end up paying more for criminal and financial records on another site than if you’d just signed up for one month on Been Verified.  

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Intelius Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

Intelius is a resource that allows you to search for information about an individual privately and securely. With a high accuracy rating, you can trust that the results are as thorough as it gets.

4.5
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • They seem genuinely interested in knowing how to better their service.  They have a floating “feedback” bar on the right side of the site that opens up a quick questionnaire asking what you liked and didn’t like and how they could do better.
  • The site lets you search by name, phone number or email, which opens up a lot of options for how to use the service.
  • The results were propagated quickly; I didn’t have to spend a lot of time waiting for the search to load information.
  • The mobile app is very helpful for reverse searching phone calls that you don’t recognize.
  • There is a tab at the top of the page entitled “My List” which shows you people you add to your list,, which keeps the information at your fingertips  for as long as you have the service.

Cons

  • To get more than just the one criminal background check you are given with your membership you need to upgrade your account.  This is an additional $19.95 per report, which seems expensive compared to other services that allow you to do unlimited background checks for around $40/month.  If you were needing to do multiple background checks this service might not be the best one for you.
  • Background checks are only available when you purchase them and after you close out of them they are gone.  They should be available for continual access on your profile since you paid for the information.
  • I wish there had more contacts listed in connection to the person I was searching.  It seemed like there should have been more people associated than there were.

Recently, I was contacted by a woman who claimed she owned a local photography business that I had never heard of.  She was looking for someone to collaborate on a creative project with.  The concept was interesting to me but it almost sounded too good to be true so I decided it was in my best interest to verify the identity the person contacting me to make sure they were someone I wanted to spend a significant amount of time with.  I looked online for the highest rated research company and stumbled upon quite a few but the one that stuck out to me was called Intelius.

Who is Intelius?

Intelius has been around since 2003 and specializes in information and interconnectivity of people throughout the world.  Located in Bellvue, Washington, they are fully integrated both online and on mobile devices so you can use them at home or on the go with your smartphone.  I also noticed that they were rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau, you know you are going to get detailed results and top-notch customer service.

Modern technology is a wonderful thing that opens doors and sheds light on who people are but it is not always thorough and what is presented online is not always reported correctly or fairly.  Intelius offers assurance that you can’t get other places because they boast access to billions of public records each year.  That, paired with noticeably fast servers, gets you reliable data quickly.

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Intelius Pricing and Available Plans

There are, of course, many companies that offer similar services.  They have all been reviewed many times, both by vetted news corporations as well as thousands of individual user reviews.  All too often, human nature is to only leave a review when you have something you need to say which generally is when you’ve had a negative experience so I had no trouble finding a plethora of negative reviews on the Better Business Bureau website. However, this is consistent with all of the other businesses I looked into that were similar.  Ultimately, people did not read the fine print when they signed up and were complaining about so-called ‘hidden’ charges.  Intelius had the same public response as did others like US Search, NetDetective, and InfoRegistry.  

I looked into a few of the comparable companies and this is what I found.  With US Search, I was able to access a full background check for a discounted rate of $29.95 as long as I agreed to have OmniSearch, a $19.95/month subscription, along with it.  The OmniSearch function would be free for 2 days but you had to remember to cancel it.  NetDetective was simplistic looking and felt cold; very basic and rudimentary.  It offered a discounted rate of $4.95 for a 5 day trial version which renewed to a $29.95 monthly fee.  Finally, InfoRegistry was also rather basic in nature.  None of the results of my initial search matched the name to the location and a $29.95 subscription only promised that a report MAY include all the information I was looking for. The site seemed broken because when I clicked to see a sample report the page appeared jumbled  and when I inquired into the “Terms of Service” it lead me back to the home page and did not give me the information I needed.  With Intelius, I noticed that you can do a simple search if you’re just looking for a way to contact someone or you can look deeper into their history by doing a background check.  From this standpoint, Intelius is the clear winner.

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I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of finding the person I was searching for.  All I had to do was enter their first and last name along with the city and it immediately returned the correct result.  There, in front of me, was the person who had contacted me.  I was presented with 3 options – 1 month for $14.95, 3 months for $9.98/month, or $7.48/month for 6 months.  Because I was only searching for one person, I opted for the one-a-month plan.  It was a little more expensive but it included the background check that I wanted so I didn’t mind paying for it.  

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How to Use Intelius?

As soon as I put in my payment information I got immediate results!  It was a detailed list of where she lived (both past and present), relatives, contact information, and even gave detailed market value information of her home.  I used my free background check for her and was able to look to see if she had a criminal record, any infractions or offenses, and so much more.  

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Front and center, there was an interactive map that linked to people and locations that the person is closely tied to.  You can click on any of those bubbles and explore the information that is given on them.  

It also gives you the option to upgrade the membership and run a criminal background check on the person which, for me, wasn’t necessary but could be helpful for others using the service.  

Another really neat feature was the map showing exactly where the person lives.  It gives a bird’s eye view of the home and breaks down the estimated market value and other property details.  Again, this didn’t seem to matter much to me at first but it could have changed my opinion if she had lived in a really rough neighborhood as I was potentially going to be spending a lot of time at her home.  To be honest, I don’t know if I was excited or disappointed to find nothing questionable in her background check.  While it didn’t note any criminal offenses or civil court records it also had a disclaimer noting that some records may not be digitally accessible and that the results may not include all types of civil cases. I was relieved to know that the person I was searching wasn’t a convicted felon but I question that maybe there is something not listed.  It also had no education or employment records for her, nor did it reference any social networks.  

When I signed up for the Intelius Premium membership I was offered a free-of-charge social media assessment called TrueRep.  The idea is that they survey your social media presence and show you how it looks to others and how you could potentially improve it to make it more appealing to people, including prospective employers or business relationships.

They also have a smartphone app that lets you reverse-search phone numbers.  All you have to do is copy the number from your recent missed calls, paste it into the search and it will actually pull up a decent amount of information on the person, including their name, age, address, work, other forms of contact, social media profiles, and even relatives.  Each section is expandable, so you basically get a full breakdown on the person.  

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How Good is Intelius Data?

To verify that the information I was being given was correct, I decided to go rogue and see if there was a facebook profile that might give me more information and, in fact, there was.  Her business page linked back to her personal page and I was able to view a decent amount of information through that avenue. None of this information was available through the Intelius, search, which leads me to believe information is potentially being missed.

I installed it and logged onto the mobile app with no trouble at all and, though I didn’t necessarily think I needed this function, I have used it quite a bit!  I tested it out on a coworker, asking for her phone number and punching it in.  It not only provided me with her name but also her husband’s name and her address!  I searched a few calls that I had screened recently and found them to be local people.  A few of them linked to possible social media profiles.  I was more confident calling them back because I knew who I was talking to.  I booked two photo shoots that I would not have otherwise booked because they had not left a message and I would not have called them back blindly.  Because I had the information to know who I was talking to I felt comfortable connecting with them, which is a huge perk for anyone who might otherwise shy away from answering or cold-calling unknown numbers.

However, when I went into the TrueRep section it was locked and asked me to verify my identity, which it said it could not verify.  After working with a customer service representative, I was able to sort out the issue and review my online reputation.  As it turns out, I’m not very influential when it comes to social media but I’m ok with that. However, this could be a really powerful tool if you utilize your social media presence to market your business online.  It also gives you tools to help you improve your reputation score, which is above and beyond what I expected from this free perk.CaptureVisit Intelius

How to Cancel Intelius?

When I had searched to my heart’s content I decided to cancel the subscription.  I was surprised how easy the process was!  There was a simple form to fill out denoting why you were canceling your subscription and then they confirmed that you would not be billed further.  It was that simple!

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Intelius Final Thoughts

With all the searching I did, I didn’t find much. This is a good thing, though; The last thing I wanted was to find out that she was a felon or had other strikes against her.  Of course, no online inquiry is going to have all the information and ultimately they are all searching the same pools of public data. The fact that it did not find any felonies or negative remarks on her or her business  was reassuring. Because of what I found (or, perhaps, didn’t find) I felt comfortable working with her.  I later inquired about her phone number because the one given for her did not match what she had used to contact me and she had no idea who that phone number belonged to.  

If I had to rate the service, I would give them a 5/5 for price, 4/5 for accuracy, 5/5 for support and 5/5 for interface and features.  All things considered, this website saves you a significant amount of time and frustration and gives you mostly trustworthy results quickly. I was sure to leave a positive review online.

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Spokeo Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

Spokeo is the “Glinda, the Good Witch” of background check sites, emphasizing all the positive reasons to research people and downplaying the Information Age’s darker sides.

4.3

Pros

  • Lean, clean, search machine
  • Great price
  • A snap to use

Cons

  • Weak on crime
  • Extra searches can lead you down a rabbit hole of info

Who is Spokeo?

What a couple Stanford grads started as a “social network aggregator” in a Silicon Valley basement in 2006 has morphed into one of the better means of mending your long neglected social ties. Sure, there’s some criminal info available on Spokeo, but the company’s website sends the clear message it would rather bring people together than keep them apart.

The customer testimonials shown below give you a good idea of the top uses promoted on the site:

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Spokeo Pricing and Available Plans

Straightforward price structure is among the lowest in the field – $13.95 for a month, $7.95 a month for 3 months and $4.95 a month for half the year. Your base subscription seems to get you enough reliable, current background info to help you reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with for a very long time.

Base plan provides contact info, location history, relatives and some other bare bones personal info – enough to make certain you’ve located the right person.

Searching available court or historical records is $2.95 extra, each.

How to Use Spokeo?

Sign up

This portion of the process could be done in your sleep.

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Customer Service

Spokeo customer service could be among the most responsive in the industry. You can talk to a real person 24/7, unless you’d rather just handle things on your own easily online.

Spokeo’s standard search

Seems to work exactly as advertised. Simple search format is flexible enough you can include anything you happen to remember about the person you’re looking for, even if it’s incomplete, and returns a manageable list of possible matches. Once you select the most likely candidate, the extensive location history and list of relatives quickly confirms if you’ve got the right person.

Some contact info appears outdated, but the most recent available is clearly identified, which should take some of the hit and miss out of getting ahold of whomever you’re trying to connect with.

Spokeo also digs through more than 60 social networks, giving you another avenue for reestablishing those old ties.

Court and historical reports

Are fairly cheap, but still might not be worth the cost, returning a lot of US Census, marriage, death and court records on anyone sharing a name the least bit similar to your subject’s (though some of this could be helpful if you’re working on a family history).

Connections

Is a unique feature that allows you to import an address book, then performs searches to update the contact info it contains, filling in a name, perhaps, for that random phone number you once jotted down.

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Web design

Spokeo is tops among several sites I’ve used. The site is ridiculously easy to navigate and displays search results in a plain, uncluttered format with no distracting graphics or annoying pop-ups for “free credit reports!”

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How Good is Spokeo Data?

In keeping with Spokeo’s semiofficial mission of optimistic reconnection, I decided to dig up what I could on a once close friend who’d gone through some rough times before completely severing all connections with the circle of friends we shared. No one had heard from him in several years and all of us were concerned about his health and happiness.

I’d tried finding what I could on other websites with absolutely no success at all, excepting a list of literally hundreds of names scattered willy-nilly around the country without out any useful corroborating evidence. My first search on Spokeo returned a single unequivocally positive result, complete with age, names, dates and places that clinched the ID. What I did not expect was my reluctance to contact him.

Perhaps it was the subliminally gentle message that seems to permeate Spokeo’s website, but I was more inclined to respect my old friend’s apparent wish to start his life anew. Rather than startle him a phone call from a ghost from the past, I was content with the knowledge (supplied by Spokeo) that he seems surrounded by new friends and family, is living in a safe neighborhood and is, apparently, pursuing some of his favorite interests once again.

How do I Cancel Spokeo?

Cancellation was easy peasy. You can cancel anytime on website’s “Usage and Subscriptions” page, call (877) 913-3088, or send an email to CustomerCare@spokeo.com. If you used PayPal, it’s even easier: 1, Log in to your PayPal account; 2, Click “Profile” near the top of the page; 3, Click “My Money; 4,Click “Update” in the “My Preapproved Payments” section; and 5, Click “Cancel” or “Cancel Automatic Billing” and follow the instructions. That’s it!

Spokeo Final Thoughts

There are a lot better sites out there for digging up dirt on people, if that’s what you need in a background check. But, if you’re idly musing about what happened to an old and once dear friend or need to locate a family member you’ve lost touch with, Spokeo is perhaps the best, and cheapest, way to do it.

Without really meaning to, Spokeo tangentially touches on the issue of privacy in the information age: just because you can do an extensive background check, does it mean you should?

PeopleSmart Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

PeopleSmart is a public records search that bridges the gap of the other search avenues and provides simple, direct, correct results. It’s easy-to-use interface can reconnect lost friends or help companies feel secure about people they trust.

4.3
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • The information was straightforward and presented in a user-friendly manner.
  • When you search, it pulls up multiple people so that I could make sure I was selecting the correct person.
  • The site wasn’t inundated with banner ads and pop-ups.

Cons

  • The information presented was very basic and didn’t go into much detail.
  • To get any significant information on someone other than their basic contact required an upgrade in your account, which was confusing. Your account already has some credits (in my case, 75 credits) and a premium report cost 250 credits. To buy the outstanding 175 credits was going to cost me $35. It also gave me an option to spend $99 to get a PremiumPro membership or I could spend $119 and get 3 premium reports. It seemed to me to be excessive for my purposes and was an expensive upgrade.

Meh

  • There were a few discrepancies on the information provided but nothing major.

I stumbled across PeopleSmart completely by accident, or maybe it was a fortunate mistake. I was in charge of putting together the class reunion and had a handful of contacts I couldn’t reach. While looking for an old friend who I hadn’t spoken to in years I ended up on PeopleSmart. After searching other places unsuccessfully for a long time I was ready to give up but this was the breakthrough I needed.

Who is PeopleSmart?

Upon digging deeper, it turns out PeopleSmart is a side-project of a company called Inflection, based in Omaha, Nebraska, which is ultimately a resource for employers to verify and background-check their potential employees. As you know, technology never stops growing and changing. In a world of increasing connection over the web, the power of inquiry has become increasingly important. This applies both to small businesses and to large, established corporations. The internet lends many tools to not only learn and grow personally but also connect and build relationships across the globe. This can be a great opportunity to branch out and grow, unleashing the ability to link up with people that are well suited to your goals. Be it close to home or abroad, it is important to know who you are connecting with and trusting. Inflection offers a host of options, including CommunitySafety and Identity.com. CommunitySafety is geared toward non-profits and schools to make sure the people they are allowing in are trustworthy and identity.com gives you quick and reliable identification and background checks to make sure you know who you are speaking with and gives you that extra buffer against fraud and unnecessary risk.

PeopleSmart Pricing and Available Plans


Not only is the site easy to use but it is direct. It is a service you pay for, which might deter some people, but the fact that they outline exactly what you get for your money makes you realize the worth. I opted for the $19.99/month plan that gave me 10 searches by phone number, 10 by email, and even let me send emails and physical letters on my behalf through the company. Because I had more people on my list to contact, this was the best option.

How to Use PeopleSmart?

There are so many interesting facets to this service that I got hooked almost immediately. Unfortunately, the friend I was looking for has a rather generic name, which proved very frustrating. When other search queries amassed a blur of results, PeopleSmart allowed me to look deeper than just the name I was searching for and find the specific details that narrowed my search. Even though it returned 14 results the search provided things like estimated age, previous known cities, maiden name(s), and even relatives. Some of the entries also listed if the person had passed away and how long ago they passed. I was absolutely blown away by the accuracy and was very quickly able to find the specific person I was looking for.

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I wanted to check to make sure the site was legitimate so I looked online for reviews and was pleasantly surprised! When you see, “we found that PeopleSmart was very close to being 100 percent accurate” you know you’re onto something good.

How Good is PeopleSmart Data?

The report showed a map of where she lived but did not give a direct address. It offers you the option of upgrading your membership to reveal a direct address but by collaborating with different search avenues I was able to cross-search and find what I needed. It also provided me with her current phone number as well as her cell phone number and an alternative home number. I called the cell phone number and was successfully connected the first time!

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When you sign up, it offers you something called “IdentitySmart” which allows you to monitor your public records including credit accounts and email addresses which would be really helpful to potentially avoid credit card fraud and identity theft. This was an additional $14.95/month and I might do it someday but decided to skip it for now. It did, however, pique my interest. Of course, I had to look myself up; Curiosity is a powerful thing! I’m not sure if I am happy or disappointed but I did not find much about myself. It provided my name and birthday but did not have any contact information for me. It did, however, list relatives of mine which would probably get someone the information they needed to contact me if they really wanted to.

There was one person I looked up that did not give any phone contact but, instead, listed that they had an address and gave me the option to send a letter via the postal system. I opted to send a postcard and found it to be surprisingly simple! It opened up a dialogue box, I typed in my text, and I pressed send.

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I received a phone call 3 days later from the gentleman I sent the letter to confirming his reservation for the reunion. Though it did not give me a direct address, it got the job done and didn’t cost me anything extra. For the sake of full disclosure, there were a few addresses that were not current or correct within the results but the vast majority were correct.

Of course, no system is going to be perfect. The fact that it did not find any information on myself was a bit surprising because I do not go to any length to hide my contact information. My email and phone are both listed on my Facebook page and my LinkedIn. I am also a small-business owner which, I would think, would propagate my contact information throughout the internet. I had no problem finding information on the handful of other missing contacts I needed, which was nice. It saves you a significant amount of time and frustration because you’re not searching multiple locations for information.

The nice thing about PeopleSmart is that it gives you the flexibility you need to serve your personal needs. I only needed to search a handful of people so I was able to choose the less expensive monthly charge. Had I needed more, there was an option available for $49.99 which gave me 5x the search power and 10x the ability to contact people directly. If I only had to search for 1 person, there’s an option for that, too. You have the opportunity to pay a one-time charge of $4.99 and avoid costly subscriptions and the hassle of cancellation.

True, the business review ratings weren’t as high as their competitors but, for the price, it was absolutely worth it. On one review site, Intelius received a 90% accuracy rating, US Search received 85%, and PeopleSmart received 60%. It still gave me everything I needed, though. The review site stated that PeopleSmart, “offers a mostly accurate view of criminal and bankruptcy history on those we investigated. The complete reports offer more data than most, which can help you branch out your investigation if you choose”.

Upon looking into other services, Intelius offered searches for $14.95/month with one background check or discounted rates if you sign up for 3 or 6 months initially. If you only wanted one report, however, it would cost you $49.95! The other service, US Search, was much less appealing in my opinion as it came across as less user-friendly and much less personal. It gave a 1 person report for $2.45 which included just the basic contact information, a criminal check for $14.95, or a background check for $39.95. If you paid for a single report and it didn’t return any information you would be out of luck and would have paid to be told nothing at all. There really wasn’t an option to search multiple people without consenting to a $1.45 charge with a hidden $19.95/month subscription, which was only discussed deeper within the expandable details. It wasn’t exactly straightforward about the charges which might undermine your trust for the company.

How to Cancel PeopleSmart?

When I was done getting all of the names and contacts for my event I decided to cancel the subscription. It was surprisingly easy! I did not have to argue with customer service or go through any lengthy steps. It asked why I was canceling, I noted my reasons, it asked me to confirm and it was done. I got to continue my month of subscription and it would automatically terminate on the date requested.

As an added bonus, it offered me a lesser subscription where I could search name, address, email and work information for a discounted rate of $4.95/month.

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PeopleSmart Final Thoughts

Ultimately, I was very pleased with this service. Not only did it streamline my searching but it took only minutes to do what had taken me hours previous to subscribing for this service. I cannot even begin to tell you how valuable time is on this project and this service was a life saver! It was accurate for the most part and got the job done.

It wasn’t the least expensive option but it was the most appealing and seemed to have options that were best suited to my needs. For only $14.99 I was able to find everyone I needed with very minimal hassle. I was able to send a letter when no phone contact information was given, which is not something that was offered by other services. I could see it being very valuable in many different applications. I will absolutely be back in the future.

 

US Search Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

Well established with a good track record, US Search is a reliable, if somewhat stodgy, middle of the road site.

3.8
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • Well-established company
  • Low price for basic searches

Cons

  • Pricey for more detailed searches

Meh

  • Hasn’t kept pace with newer tech

Who is US Search?

Bellevue, Washington-based US Search was one of the first companies to provide information about people online and still occupies the comfortable niche it first carved out in 1994. From the beginning, US Search has been a reliable way to locate long, lost childhood friends or to verify your new neighbor’s backstory about having just relocated after living on a pineapple plantation in Hawaii for the last decade. From the start, this has been a company that seems to make certain that the information it does provide is both accurate and the most current available.

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US Search Pricing and Available Plans

You can get some peace of mind about that new neighbor or old flame for the modest a la carte price of $2.45 for the basic one-off “People Search” report that provides full name and any aliases, age, address and address history, publicly listed phone numbers plus relatives and associates. For a monthly fee of just under $20, you can perform an unlimited number of basic searches (minus relatives, but with social network info) with the company’s “OmniSearch” subscription. More detailed info, like that provided by the company’s top of the line “Background Check” comes at nearly $40 but adds real meat to the report including criminal records, social network information and financial information such bankruptcies and tax liens.

In between is the 1-State Criminal Records search for around $15.

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How to Use US Search?

Maybe not as cutting edge as it was when it pioneered the concept of supplying people’s info online, US Search remains a solid entry in the field, well-suited for those with an occasional need to search out basic contact information in order to reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with over the years or double check a new acquaintance’s backstory.

Sign-up

Although the signup process is fairly straightforward, it wasn’t immediately clear I was signing up for the monthly OmniSearch subscription and that if I wanted to dig deeper into any subject’s info I was going to have to pay quite a bit more to do it.

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People Search/OmniSearch

This is where US Search really earns its keep. If you’re only occasionally in need of locating a shoestring relative’s phone number or feel moved to contact your best bud from PS 23, a one-time People Search is the way to go. For less than $3 you’ll get an extensive list of possible matches, allowing you to focus your efforts on the most likely subject without paying for multiple look-ups.

Both include an address history check and list of relatives/associates which can be a real help in helping narrow down where you need to look or help you connect with that hard to locate someone through a third party.

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An OmniSearch monthly membership gives you access to the same basic info for an unlimited number of searches with the flexibility to opt-out whenever you please, an arrangement perfect for putting together contact lists for a class reunion or similar events. Be aware, thought, that you’ll be charged automatically each month unless you cancel your subscription online or, more problematically, by phone. US Search’s customer service phone lines are open Monday through Friday only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time (3 hours behind the east coast and some 7 ahead of Alaska and Hawaii.

One-State Criminal Check/Background Check

US Search’s pricier options provide more info, but, in many cases, from fewer sources. For instance, the company has access to marriage and divorce records from only 11 states and criminal records from 43 (excluding Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming). So, if you want to check if that great new dude/dudette you just met at the Flax Festival is, in fact, a serial polygamist/bigamist chances are you’ll need to go another route. Likewise if you’d feel better about your second cousin’s nephew from Wyoming with the odd face tattoo dating your daughter after a criminal records check.

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The 1-State Criminal Check is a check of the records available from a selected state for specific person. If that person has a criminal record in another state it will not appear in the 1-State Criminal Check.

The full on, full-priced Background Check proves all available criminal and financial info in the form of property ownership details and info about civil judgments, bankruptcies and tax liens. In order to limit identify theft, US Search does not provide credit histories, dates of birth and other sensitive information.

Reverse phone lookup

US search can also tell you who belongs to that phone number that keeps mysteriously appearing on your caller id, a family member’s phone or on a phone bill.

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How Good is US Search Data?

As a testament to US Search’s accuracy, it remembered more about me than I did, digging up an address from two decades ago I lived at for about a year and a half. Even better when I did a little digging on a neighbor, not only did it corroborate facts I was already certain of, it filled in a few blanks besides and as an added bonus displayed a satellite photo of what I couldn’t see clearly over the fence from next door. And when curiosity got the better of me it located the current location of my first crush. Try as I might, I could not unearth any criminals or deadbeats in my circle of friends and acquaintances, confirming I must be running in the right circles.

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How do I Cancel US Search?

Pretty standard stuff here. To cancel, go to your account settings, scroll to “membership info” and choose “cancel service.” Or you can contact customer support by phone M-F from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PACIFIC TIME, or Email: cservice@ussearch.com. Service terminates at end of current billing term.

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US Search Final Thoughts

I’d say this is a perfect site for the occasional, largely benign searches or to follow up on strong evidence that someone is not who or what they are pretending to be. US Search could be problematic if you’re planning on using it frequently for your business or for more specific checks of employment or education histories.

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eVerify Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/Features

Summary

eVerify is singularly suited for deep research on a single subject and would be an expensive choice for someone looking to compile contact info on Riverdale High’s Class of 1979.

2.3
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • Lots of info.

Cons

  • TMI – for casual searches
  • Funky web design
  • Pricey and cumbersome for multiple searches

Meh

  • Notable problems with accuracy.

Who is eVerify?

A background check on this background check website turns up very little information other than a Boston, Mass., mailing address. Further complicating matters is the fact the employment verification website shared by the Department of Homeland Security and US Citizenship and Immigration Service has a nearly identical name: E-Verify. (Make sure you’re using the right one!)

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eVerify Pricing and Available Plans

eVerify’s $19.95 Instant One Time Report could be the best bargain out there in terms of the amount of raw data it dredges up.

The $2.95 5-Day Trial, on the other hand, is kind of a tease, promising a lot, but frequently turning up just a long list of “no reports found” responses, which are suddenly filled with scads of data when you pay the $19.95 to tack on a “premium search.”

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How to Use eVerify?

Sign up

Is relatively quick and painless as is cancelling the service.

Ease of use

Not so much. Not only does this site have a name dangerously similar the government site it also shares the same kind of red-white-and-blue, stars-and-stripes-forever themed web design. And it can be difficult to separate search results from Great New Offers! However, once mastered the site could be very useful for professionals tasked with meticulously checking out every single detail of a subject’s past and present associates, dealings, finances and history.

Standard search

eVerify requires more patience to negotiate than many other sites. General searches turn up so many possible matches that it can be very difficult to home in on the one person you’re checking up on (which is probably why there’s an instructional video prominently displayed on the site’s homepage). You’re best off narrowing down your search however you can beforehand (like knowing middle initials, relatives or narrowing the geographic scope of your search as much as possible.)

The standard search offers a big bonus when it comes to checking out the bad guys in your neighborhood, however. A list of sex offenders, complete with mug shots when available, living in the vicinity of the person you’ve searched for is automatically tacked onto the end of eVerify’s standard search.

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Premium search

eVerify’s premium search seems better suited to professionals such as investigative reporters or private eyes than it is to soccer dads checking up on carpool drivers. This search returns long lists of financial information as well as sizable numbers of the subject’s associates and the current owners of homes they once owned.

If you’re looking to talk to someone’s former neighbors, employers and need a fairly detailed snapshot of their past and current financial situation, you’ll get it here. The premium search is so detailed it brings up the all subject’s neighbors’ phone numbers which is, somehow, a little creepy.

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Social media/emails

As much information as this site returns on friends, relatives and associates, it’s very weak where social media and emails are concerned, frequently returning nothing at or results that are very clearly incorrect.

Customer service

Online – all the time. Call center – 10 a.m.-8p.m. EST, M-F.

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How Good is eVerify Data?

A premium search of my neighbor turned up more info (38 pages) than I could ever possibly want, need or have the time to carefully read. An attempt to locate an old college buddy with a standard search, on the other hand, was an exercise in frustration – pretty much the only result was a list of hundreds of names of possible matches without much to help further narrow down the list. While thorough in some respects, the site returned some clearly inaccurate results, especially in the area of social media, attributing accounts in Texas to a friend located clear across the country who I know has never done business in the Lone Star State. Even more disturbing were the 14 non-existent criminal offenses that showed up when I ordered up a report on myself (which also included relatives who aren’t and, although I often have trouble nailing two boards together, listed my occupation as craftsman).

 

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How do I Cancel eVerify?

Cancellation for eVerify is a pretty straightforward process. Email them at https://members.everify.com/customer/help or hit them up on the phone at (800) 791-1427. That’s it! Just keep in mind that fees are billed monthly, so there are no refunds for any unused portion of the month you’ve got left.

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eVerify Final Thoughts

eVerify is just not for me. I can’t imagine needing this much info on anyone unless I was looking for a Russian mole deep inside my Silicon Valley server farm. eVerify provides far too much info, too much of it inaccurate, but will garner a good market among those looking to identify convicted sex offenders and other creeps in the neighborhood.

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PeopleFinders Review

  • Price
  • Accuracy
  • Support
  • Interface/features

Summary

PeopleFinders is a data service that allows you to simply and effectively search people with confidentiality and peace of mind. It is a cost-effective option that doesn’t skimp on quality or quantity of information and gives you the added bonus of unlimited background searches.

4.8
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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Pros

  • The site was very easy to use and provided an easily understandable collection of data.
  • Considering other companies I looked into, the price for what you receive is fantastic.
  • The data returned proved to be very accurate and, though not perfect, it was better than I expected from an online aggregation of information.
  • Cancellation was simple and painless.

Cons

  • When searching myself, I found quite a few ‘relatives’ that were so distant that they would not even know who I was; a wife of a cousin of my brother’s first wife, for example. It was a stretch to label them as relatives.

Meh

  • Some of the relatives listed provided phone numbers and addresses despite having been deceased for over 25 years.

Recently, my teenage daughter was invited to join her best friend and her family on a weekend getaway up north to the family cabin. They talked about skiing and sledding and it all sounded really fun but I was still a little uneasy because I wasn’t that familiar with the family. I decided to put my fears to rest and just do a little searching to make sure that the parents were good people. Truth be told, we don’t know many people in that area and wanted to make sure that the surrounding neighborhood was safe, too.
I looked online for a background search company and was presented with a host of options. I dug a little deeper to find the highest rated research company and eventually landed on PeopleFinders.

Who is PeopleFinders?

Once I decided which company was most attractive, I looked a little more into who they are. PeopleFinders has been in business since 1998 and is stationed in Sacremento, California. They’re considered a DaaS, or a “Data as a Service”, company and the amount of information they have access to is a bit scary but can be very helpful. Their query of information goes back 40+ years, which is going to ensure very thorough results. I was very impressed to see that they have received a plethora of awards including, but not limited to, the “Top 10 Best: Top 10 People Search Sites” and the 3 from the WMA for “Best of Industry; Information Services Standard of Excellence; and Standard of Excellence Award”

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PeopleFinders Pricing and Available Plans

With PeopleFinders, I found the interface much more user-friendly than the others and it allowed me to do a simple search to get what I needed. I was a bit confused at first because it offered a 3 day trial for $2.95 with a $29.95 monthly charge if you kept the service but below that offer it also offered $7.95 for the report and trial together. Upon digging deeper, I realized that the $2.95 price was what would be charged if you ended up canceling within the 3 days. Otherwise, you’d pay the $7.95 each month you continued the service.

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In my opinion, that was a steal of a price so I continued. I noticed at the checkout that there was a spot for a promo code so I did a quick google search to see if I could find something to sweeten the deal and found a 50% off deal but upon continuing through the link it turned out to be more expensive than the price I had already. However, deals change quite often so you might be able to find a discount if you look.

I would caution you to pay attention when you sign up because it offers something called “Rewards” which allows you to do $1 background checks, assisted searches, reports on yourself, genealogy census searches, etc. It says in the fine print that you’ll be charged $24.99/mo for this service and if you aren’t careful you could click right through this without looking. I chose to not go this route and pressed the link below that says, “No thanks, complete my order without signing up for rewards”.

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How to Use PeopleFinders?

The simplicity of the process was very nice. All it required was for me to enter my friend’s first and last name and the city and it returned a few results with the information I needed to choose the correct person. I entered my financial information and submitted the form and within moments I was all set.

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I was absolutely astonished by the wealth of information presented to me as soon as I ran the report. There were no less than 50 relatives, all listing their addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and maiden name. No doubt, the long list included cousins and distant family. It listed her property ownership information and gave not only the location but also that she owned multiple properties. It showed no evictions or foreclosures, which showed me that she has maintained good financial standing.

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One thing that surprised me was that it gave me a list of their neighbors with the address and phone number. If I wanted to, I could have easily called the neighbors and asked them for their opinion of her. There are situations where I may have done that but in this instance I did not. Further down, it listed no criminal records, liens, judgements, bankruptcies etc. Essentially, it showed that they both had a clean slate, which gave me the reassurance I needed to trust her.

Because I’m a cynic and I didn’t find any criminal records on the report I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just left empty so I decided to do a little investigating. I looked up a well known criminal to see if he had anything listed and sure enough he had his criminal record posted on the background check along with a foreclosure. This bolstered my confidence in the accuracy of the information I was being given.

Taking it one step further, I wanted to look into the neighborhood surrounding the cabin. With the premium membership, it was as simple as plugging in the address!

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It immediately brought up a list of current and previous owners as well as allowed me to see who the neighbors were.

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I could do background checks on the neighbors that were closest if I wanted to. That, paired with a local sex-offender search, made me feel so much better about sending my daughter off for the weekend. I was confident that the people she was going with and the people she may meet there were all good people and it was very unlikely that she would find herself in a bad situation.

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How Good is PeopleFinders Data?

The membership came with unlimited background checks so I looked myself up. I was glad to see that the information presented was about 95% correct. I continued, almost with a guilty pleasure, looking up family members and other people I knew, just for fun.
Upon returning to the home page I noticed that I was offered a free reverse phone number look-up, so I gave that a shot. I began with myself and it showed me my address as well as who had previously owned my phone number. I ended up looking up a few phone numbers of people I had screened calls from because they had not been programmed into my phone. As it turns out, they were old friends and I was able to reconnect with them for drinks and to catch up. Had I not had this service I would have never known that they had called me and I would have missed this opportunity.

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How do I Cancel PeopleFinders?

It was actually rather difficult to make the decision to cancel my subscription to this site. I found myself intrigued by the endless background checks but eventually had to resign my curiosity and fight the urge to search everyone I knew. Still, some things are better left unknown. When I cut myself off, the cancellation process was very simple. There was a basic form to with a few questions asking you to explain why you were canceling your subscription.

Just as you were about to complete the cancellation, it offered you a discounted rate of $17.95 for continuing your subscription. As nice of a price as this was,I decided not to go ahead with this option.

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PeopleFinders Final Thoughts

Finding myself in a situation where I need to trust someone I don’t know with my precious daughter is a bit terrifying but I was very glad that PeopleFinders was able to give me the peace of mind that I needed. Their information was thorough and reliable and it helped me make an informed decision that I felt good about. Not finding much was the best result I could have hoped for.

The last thing I wanted to find was that she had some sort of criminal records for theft. However, had there been some mark on their records I would have definitely been glad I looked. Thankfully, PeopleFinders offers a level of quality and quantity of information that just doesn’t seem to be available other places.

I really didn’t find anything wrong with the site as a whole – I would definitely use it again if a situation arose that I needed to; Perhaps she starts dating!

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Scout Review

  • Ease of Installation
  • Customer Service And Monitoring
  • Cost
  • Equipment
  • Technology

Summary

Scout home security is a great solution for those looking to save money with DIY setup, optional monitoring, and an a la carte menu of features.

4.0
User Rating 0 (0 votes)
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We all know that purchasing a home security system is a monumental decision. Weighing the costs and benefits is more difficult than with normal products because the risks are far greater. We want to get the best product for our money, of course, but we want to know that we will be safe and secure for the foreseeable future, too.

We are taking a look at Scout home security systems to figure out what sets them apart from the competition, and what makes them a worthy choice when it comes to protecting your home and your family.

For those with a bit of technical know-how and a level of comfort when it comes to working with devices, this company might be a great choice. The tradeoff for a lower price in this market is a more DIY-oriented setup, which is exactly how Scout works.

Things to consider before buying a home security system

Everyone who’s owned and maintained a home security system knows that the long-term investment will easily justify its cost, as long as it works as advertised. Setups like those offered by Scout are designed to not only monitor and protect your home seamlessly; they are meant to notify the proper authorities in the case of an emergency via professional monitoring.

One of the key features of Scout is that the professional monitoring feature is optional, which means you can actually operate the technology without a monthly fee. However, this comes with a tradeoff of higher risk if your home is burglarized while you are away or otherwise unable to contact the police. Still, it makes for an intriguing spot between higher-cost solutions and, well, no security at all.

When selecting your own home security system, you’ll want to weigh the available options and decide what is most important to you. Many companies offer simple tiers of service, with accompanying hardware suits and feature levels, but Scout allows you to purchase the equipment a la carte and select only the features you want. This means you’ll want to be educated about the product and your own needs before you take the plunge.

What is Scout?

Scout is an a la carte security system, similar to competitors like SimpliSafe and Viper Home, with an extra helping of freedom of choice. That means you, the homeowner, get to pick and choose which components go into your own setup. You’ll be able to install all of the equipment you need and nothing more. This means that, in many cases, you’ll be saving money in comparison to other offerings.

With a focus on DIY installation and customization, Scout is nearly the polar opposite of brands like ADT that sell suites of devices that must be professionally installed in your home. This translates into savings in the long term, but naturally requires a bit of technical know-how on your part as the homeowner.

Let’s look at a list of the major pros and cons to Scout’s approach.

Pros:

  1. A la carte device selection – only get what you’ll use
  2. Optional service plan – zero monthly fees if you choose
  3. Live monitoring is optional and lower priced than competitors
  4. Smart device integration

Cons:

  • No Android support for smartphone app
  • Limited selection of devices
  • Initial costs can add up if all devices are purchased
  • DIY installation means problems are yours to fix

Features & Benefits

A La Carte Selection

Unlike almost every other option in home security, Scout is happy to let you pick and choose the components that you want, free of constricting service tiers. While that means that the initial selection process is more intensive, it also means that you only get the pieces that you need to secure your own home. Of course, the device selection means that the initial cost may be higher than other services, but you’ll own the components forever and will not necessarily have to pay a monthly fee if you don’t want to.

Extended_Scout_Family

Optional Monthly Monitoring

This brings us to the next standout feature: professional emergency monitoring is completely optional with Scout. While most systems are inextricably tied to an ongoing service, Scout allows you to set up an ad hoc security system of your choice and use it however you choose. Of course, professional monitoring is always the safest route and should be taken advantage of where possible, but it’s good to know that the option is there.

Smart Devices

The hardware Scout uses is some of the smartest around, with a central hub device that connects the whole ecosystem to each other and to your mobile device. This allows for integration with smart home products you may already own, from thermostats to light switches. Even better, it allows you to monitor and control every aspect of the system from your phone, tablet, or computer, no matter where you are. The built-in wireless chips mean that your security system is always connected, too.

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Always On Technology

Scout boasts about its always-on service because it’s one of the most reliable features of any home security setup out there. With battery backup and built-in wireless 3G chips, their components will stay alert and connected even when the power goes out. You’ll still be able to get alerts, check status, and do more with the remote mobile app no matter what. Also, if you spring for the 24/7 professional monitoring, you can rest assured that it will continue to function no matter what.

Scout Reviews by Real Users

We always make sure to check around the web to see what real customers think about a given home security product. In this case, we searched high and low to find a number of informative reviews for Scout. Here are a few good examples.

“I considered many of the different DIY home security/automation systems out there. I looked at SmartThings, Piper, Canary, Viper, Simplisafe, iSmartAlarm, etc. Each one of them had good and bad things and it was hard to find a company that had all of the things that I wanted. I was leaning towards Simplisafe because of the professional monitoring service, but I really, really hated that their system was closed and had no way of including a camera. I really wanted to have professional monitoring services. That, coupled with the cost and features of Scout, is what sold me.” – Jacob C.

“Setting up the alarm was extremely simple. You can do it from your phone or from a computer. I opted for my computer, but should have used my phone because every time I wanted to hook up a new window sensor I had to go all the way to my office to click the mouse a few times and then go back to the window to set it up. With the phone, you can do everything from wherever you’re standing and the interface is exactly the same as on a computer.” – OllieMcJeeves

“My final thoughts are that the wireless aspect of this system is a non-starter in it’s current form. Unfortunately, for ultimate reliability, a hard-wired system is going to be the best. I think Scout should keep trying – The app and all that stuff is great, and the infrastructure is there, but I just think the hardware isn’t reliable enough (or diagnosable enough) to really have it make the cut for anything serious. It’s better than nothing, but I’d definitely recommend having a camera system so you can verify false alarms remotely.” – Andy B.

Alternatives

Because we value a thorough comparison, we looked at how Scout compares with its biggest competitors in the home security industry. Here are the top three companies to consider:

Vivint

Vivint is a major player because of its focus on home automation, providing entirely wireless home security technology. Unlike Scout, Vivint offers a comprehensive installation and setup process in which techs come into your home to set the product up professionally. There are charges for equipment and installation, but this is a boon for anyone who wants to avoid working directly with the technology. If this sounds like you, it might be a better option, provided the costs are acceptable.

  • Price: Plans start at $39.99 a month
  • Features: Vivint boasts the same features, plus full home automation
  • Benefits: 24/7 customer service, professional installation
  • Contract: Vivint contracts stand at 42 months, while Scout requires no monthly contract

If you’re curious about the full benefits, check out Vivint right here.

ADT

ADT is the most popular name when it comes to home security in America. It’s been around for decades and has an according reputation. ADT’s standard service is known for its attention to detail, including full consultation and installation. This ease of use comes with a higher price.

  • Price: Plans run from $28.99 to $55.99 a month. The top tier plan includes remote secure video and smartphone control.
  • Features: Both companies offer remarkably similar features, but ADT includes video with its plans
  • Benefits: Professional installation, remote locking, ADT branded warning signs.
  • Contract: 36 month contracts here

If you’re curious about the full benefits, check out ADT right here.

Frontpoint

Frontpoint offers a similar suite of features, including DIY installation, wireless security, and smartphone access to your home security setup. They are also well known for their quality customer service, all-cellular monitoring, and lower costs.

  • Price: $34.99 to $49.99 a month. All plans include 100% wireless and cellular system with 24/7 professional monitoring but do not include all equipment.
  • Features: Outdoor camera, remote app, and top plan offers video streaming, automated door locks, and advanced thermostat control.
  • Benefits: Simple DIY installation, pet-friendly motion detectors, Z-Wave compatible
  • Contract: 36 months, with a 30 day trial period

If you’re curious about the full benefits, check out Frontpoint right here.

Conclusion

While Scout is one of the newest players in the home security game, they’ve stepped directly into the future with a new a la carte pricing model and completely modular setup. You only buy what you need, which means you could be looking at a much better price than the competition, provided your needs are met. Their newness brings with it a lack of long term experience, but user experience and professional reviews indicate that they’re off to a very promising start.