Instant Checkmate Review – What does it offer?
Instant Checkmate is a background check service that, according to the company, delivers information on a person’s date of birth, phone numbers and address, relatives, social media profiles, and court records (including marriage and divorce records). This information is provided in the service’s Standard Report. Instant Checkmate also offers a Premium Report, which includes additional information including tax liens, foreclosures, corporate affiliations, voter registration, etc.
The exact description of what Instant Checkmate offers is as follows:
“Instant Checkmate’s Standard Report contains, where available, a person’s date of birth, phone numbers, address history, related persons, arrest records, marriage and divorce records, government license information, social media profiles including email addresses, and nearby sex offenders. A subscription with Instant Checkmate allows you to obtain unlimited Standard Reports about persons during your subscription period. After subscribing, you will also have the opportunity to upgrade your Standard Report to a Premium Report, which will supply additional and supplemental data about a person, for $19.99.“
How easy is it to use Instant Checkmate?
For this review, I checked out Instant checkmate and put it to the test.
When you go on Instant Checkmate’s website, you are prompted to enter a person’s name and state of residence- once you do so, you go through several screens that appear to download information from the platform’s databases. This goes on several times. You must stay on your Instant Checkmate screen in order to maintain the downloading. At the end, you are able to view the person’s name, age and current and past addresses.
The Instant Checkmate platform is fairly clean and easy to use. Once you receive the preliminary information on the person you’ve been searching, you are prompted to purchase one of the following membership packages:
If you try to click out of the page or leave the site, you are sent to a $1 trial package deal page that looks like this:
I signed up for the 5-day trial package by inputting my credit card information (Paypal is also offered). Once my 5-day trial was set up, I was prompted to download my report. Interestingly, the next window that popped up recommended that I download my report as a PDF- however, had I done so, I would’ve been charged an additional $1.99 as noted here:
“You will be charged a one time administrative fee of $1.99 to be able to download PDF reports. No other charges will be made for this service, and you will be able to use the PDF feature as long as you remain an active user.”
Luckily, there is a small link below the PDF report recommendation area that allows you to opt out of receiving a PDF. Nevertheless, it’s easy to miss that warning and end up paying more money.
Before I could access my report, I was also prompted to pay additional money to obtain more detailed information, like third party-sourced criminal records, for example. This additional information costs $19.99. I clicked on the lightly colored “No Thanks” button. Again, had I intuitively clicked the “Continue” button, I would’ve ended up purchasing the supplemental report.
How accurate is Instant Checkmate?
Looking over my own report from Instant Checkmate, I found it fairly accurate on the obvious information that almost anyone would be able to locate online. The platform correctly listed my name and, birth date, phone numbers (back to 1997), physical addresses (back to 1988), related persons (my parents), two of my social profiles (LinkedIn and Google+), two Web profiles (Amazon and 10digits.us), and my astrological sign. I also received a satellite map of my current place of residence, with nearby sex offenders noted and their names, offenses and photographs provided below.
However, there was a lot of information that the platform missed. For example, I have more relatives than my parents. When I’d used other background search services, I received a long list of relatives in addition to my parents. Also, my reported social profiles could’ve easily been picked up by a simple Google search because my full name is provided on those two social media platforms. My other social media profiles (e.g., Twitter) did not show up. Also missing from the list was a Facebook page that I maintain with my full name included.
Instant Checkmate states that it provides marriage and divorce records as well as government license information in its Standard Report. This information, at least in my case, was clearly missing from my provided report.
Some of the provided information was also wrong. For example, my Amazon page provided a completely different last name and geographic location for me. I also had several incorrect names and addresses listed through the 10digits.us site.
How is Instant Checkmate’s pricing?
Instant Checkmate offers a three tier membership platform that is as follows:
- Recommended: Month-to-month at $22.86/month
- Moderate Users: 3-month membership at $44.58 ($14.86/month)
- Power Users: 6-month membership at $59.16 ($9.86/month)
While the pricing structure is straightforward and promises you all kinds of useful information, you don’t receive the really vital (e.g., criminal, financial) information on the person you are researching until you pay an additional $19.99 for a Premium Report. Instead, you get very basic information in your Standard Report. And those promised court records? They’re missing.
Also, Instant Checkmate focuses heavily on getting you to sign up for that Premium Report- the call to action is interspersed throughout your generated Standard Report and you have to be really careful to not click on a button that will end up costing you additional money.
Incidentally, you need to thoroughly read and comply with the cancellation instructions provided on the site or you will end up paying for a subscription service that will be automatically billed either every month or every three or six months, depending on the initial plan you signed up for. This will happen even if you only sign up for the month-to-month service plan.
Automatic subscriptions are priced as follows:
- Monthly membership: $22.86 per month
- 3-month membership: $44.58 automatically billed for 3 months
- 6-month membership: $59.16 automatically billed for 6 months
Finally, if you sign up for the 5-day trial, keep in mind that cancellation requests take 24-48 hours to fully process. So, if you wait until day four of your trial, you could end up paying for a full month of service.
There are many negative reviews and outright complaints about Instant Checkmate, with some of this feedback located right on the company’s own Google+ page. The negative reviews and complaints fall into three major categories:
- Unexpected monthly charges. This could be due to the service itself, but I suspect that customers simply aren’t reading the cancellation and billing policies closely enough.
- Missing/sparse information. The information provided in the Standard Report is very general and does not provide in-depth details.
- Limited or no refunds. The service does not refund Standard Memberships, and only the Premium Membership fees are refunded. This occurs even if the Standard Membership was purchased just minutes before the call to the service center for a refund.
How easy is it to cancel Instant Checkmate?
Because I had purchased only a 5-day trial with Instant Checkmate, I called within hours of signing up to cancel my plan. I was able to reach a representative within seconds of making my call. After speaking to Debbie, I was informed that my membership would be cancelled the same day and I should expect a confirmation email in my inbox. That email showed up within 15 minutes of my phone call. Needless, to say, I was impressed with the speed of service and the no-hassle cancellation process. Also, my credit card was charged exactly $1 for the trial.
Would I recommend Instant Checkmate?
From what I’ve seen after generating a report on myself, I would not recommend Instant Checkmate at even the lower rate of $19.86/month. In essence, you receive very little information for the money you pay. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that you will obtain in-depth information by paying an additional $19.99 for a Premium Report. Given the complaints about Instant Checkmate, you may also not receive a refund for either your Premium or Standard Report.
The Instant Checkmate website nickel-and-dimes you at every turn to pay more money, whether it’s for a Premium Report, a PDF, or a longer term subscription plan. You have to be extremely careful when navigating the site so you don’t click the wrong button and end up automatically paying an extra fee.
Instant Checkmate maintains its own customer testimonial websites that feature glowing reviews from its users. However, when you navigate over to third party sites that are not affiliated with Instant Checkmate, the testimonials are mostly negative.
In summary, I’d recommend going elsewhere.