I tried InstantCheckmate so you don’t have to

A couple of weeks back I wrote an absurdly long article about InstantCheckmate and the 48 records I ran by detailing how every record save one had something aburdly wrong. It got into detailing too many things and was significantly wordier than this was. I abandoned it and decided to focus on what was important.

TL;DR – probably don’t do it unless you’re just wanting to know the name of a neighbor.

About a month ago I needed to run a simple background check for one of my many jobs. I’ve been doing this for years and have a significant number of professionally generated reports already in my files I can check against.

I was looking for something simple, just a location history, and decided to try out InstantCheckmate after going through their 11 minute dog and pony show of a signup.

In case you’re wondering what that last line refers to, go and check someone out on their site without logging in, it takes about 11 minutes in which you’re constantly warned that results will be shocking. I recognized this as a trick, but during one of the pages it warned me the person had weapons, which was most likely true due to previous security guard experience. Color me slightly intrigued.

weapons ownership - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here
Ooh one OR MORE.

So, 11 minutes to get to where you can pay for a month of reports ($36 if I remember correctly, nearly $80 for 3 months.) Went for it mostly because I’ve always been curious how InstantCheckmate got their money and what they provided and all I needed for this particular assignment was a location history (which I got.)

I ran a quick BBB search, discovered 276 complaints and an A+ BBB rating because they responded to these valid complaints mostly with “please call us”. Yeah BBB, that’s not how this should work.

InstantCheckmate vs background reports

I started with going against the background checks I already had. Every record contained at least one thing incorrect, mostly what I found was InstantCheckmate was missing information, lots of it.

Their licenses page where they get the big scary “this person has weapons” warning was based on data that in three states I was testing against did not pull carry permit information for the past several years.

I tried TN, KY, and IN all of which are open records. They have information from 2009 as the latest I could locate from any of those states.

Evictions were not listed on the TN records I could locate, and licenses for FAA were hit or miss – I tried Sully, he didn’t report an FAA license, I checked the FAA license lookup, he has it. I tried a couple of flight schools, they all but one registered the licenses.

Eh, I’ve never been stalking someone and thought “think of the children! what if she’s a licensed pilot!” so who knows. That carry permit thing bothered me though.

Merging people

Because my wife has had gmail forever and there are a bunch of people out there who are stupid and use her email address as theirs (no seriously, we’ve had medical records from some woman in Florida emailed repeatedly because that woman doesn’t know her own email address) my wife got picked up somehow as having two jobs.

Not a huge deal. My friend Mike in NY managed to have two houses and an arrest warrant in Florida (this is becoming a theme,) because he didn’t register a change of address there. Er, no. Not even sure how that one got mixed up. He has no job history.

One of my friends got tied up with a meth manufacturer because he has the same name and the record for meth guy wasn’t complete, it was however near to where he lived, oh well.

Most records I did not see them tack things on however. Evictions missing, bankruptcies not reported, etc.

Court information is sad

There are courts and jurisdictions in this country in which they list the court’s name as “Court” and the state as location. There are plenty of these in Tennessee. I have several records claiming source of record was “Court”. InstantCheckmate knows where they got the data, how hard is it to code that if you’re pulling this from Bedford County you put “Bedford County Court” or similar?

Job history: Chainsaw

Job history seemed to be culled from social media somehow as it was generally wrong. My merged friend Mike has one job listed in his life, that being a chainsaw.

That was not his job.

I could spew incorrect details for hours

According to InstantCheckmate I’ve looked up about 70 people. There’s only been one that everything was correct. Things ranging from warnings of drug arrests, court records from courts named “Court” in cities listed as “Tennessee” made most of my searches interesting to say the least.

All this information teased (at least on initial search,) in such a way that you become invested just because of the amount of time you’ve wasted watching their fake progress bar go by.

Here’s a heads up – once you’re registered it takes about 10 seconds to pull a record. The only thing you have to do is wait about 8 seconds every time you hit their main page when you’re not logged in for their fake “security connection” BS.

Your input helps us confirm the accuracy of our results

When you’re initially checking someone’s info (not signed in,) you are asked if you suspect someone of a DUI, Criminal history, etc. Answering yes, no, or I don’t know gets that your input helps them confirm the accuracy of their results.

Uh, no, what I suspect about someone has no bearing on the accuracy of the results.

May contain surprising details provided by users

OK, so a disgruntled ex can post fake info, got it…

Was InstantCheckmate good for anything?

For getting an ah-hah on someone, no. Most of the information was meh at best, the social media searches were actually kind of good as I was able to locate some accounts such as my wife’s “ExtremeReba” username which seemed.. weird.

What it did help me with was finding one phone number, and getting the names of some neighbors I didn’t know.

I found loan details on a business in a personal search however, which was surprising. The business/person has registered trademarks and they did not show.

You have to pay for PDFs

That is all, you’ve spent $30something and now they want you to spend another $2.99 for pdf production. That’s a one time fee evidently. Printable version viewing doesn’t display much of anything (and not the useful bits, just the location history).

Cancellation is easy

Account, cancel, and you’ll be offered a couple of lower rates monthly. I believe one of the rates was around $9 a month for the service. You could also call up and complain and get a full refund supposedly, but I’m not particularly interested in that for this.

Instant… wait a sec, what just happened?

How to make an InstantCheckmate record disappear: go here

And bam, someone paying for the service just simply won’t find you. I removed my information at 10:32am using Internet Explorer through a VPN and a [email protected] and by 10:36am it was gone.

And that’s that

While I did suspect I would get nothing useful out of InstantCheckmate, I did get a neighbor of a neighbor’s name I needed, but so many mixed up records and each record asks you to fix it if it’s broken.

In my opinion the service is worth about $17 a year. I found some interesting bits of data, a phone number, but the lack of consistently accurate licensing, bankruptcy, evictions, repossession data that I can find using public records is not particularly good.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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