Ad Alert

Instant Checkmate

Instant Checkmate advertises its “new controversial” website as a way for “anyone with a computer” to view arrest records and perform background checks on friends and family. But can they really deliver that?

Here’s the web ad we saw:

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 10.56.46 AM

We’re not in Cheshire, but the ad thinks we are. He’s not from Cheshire either. Clicking on the ad took us to this website:

ICM News

(Click to embiggen.) The page is marked as an advertisement at the top and bottom, but it’s clearly supposed to look like a news site. And the placement of the “advertisement” disclaimers may confuse readers into thinking it really is a news site. The word advertisement in two instances appears near web ads, which may make it seem as though the only advertisements are the web ads themselves, and not the entire page. The only clear disclaimer appears at the bottom of the page.


In most cases, ads intended to look like news sites are deceptive — why make a page look like a news site or Short for a web log, a blog is a kind of online diary that normal, everyday people can maintain to share details of their life or discuss their interests. A word of warning, though – a ‘blog’ that may appear to from a normal working mom in Nebraska, may actually be an advertising scheme by a company to promote its product(s) under the guise of a neutral, third-party endorsement. other than to confuse readers into thinking they’re reading an independent take?

We clicked through Instant Checkmates site and attempted to search for a TINA staffer. The site was able to spit out his parents’ address, his parents’ names, and various misspellings of his parents’ names. (Who is named Jas?)

But in order to see more information than that, you must pay for an Instant Checkmate account. All the payment options are Recurring offers or subscriptions that continue to bill you until you take steps to shut down the account. These types of offers put the onus on the consumer to remember and to take action, allowing a company to keep gathering in cash from forgetful or busy customers. Be wary of these types of offers, and remember to stop services you no longer want.s, requiring you to put in your credit card and authorize Instant Checkmate to make recurring charges until you cancel.

You would also be making recurring payments for information that is, in many cases, free. For example, Connecticut public records can be searched for free here.

Online reviews for Instant Checkmate’s service are overwhelmingly negative. Of the 275 ratings on Consumer Affairs, 238 are one-star reviews and 26 are two-star reviews. Ripoff Report has 196 reports on Instant Checkmate. Scambook has 89 unresolved complaints. There are many unhappy and disappointed customers out there.

Consumers should be wary of ads promising to deliver criminal records. Someone may be trying to sell you something that’s already free. Think carefully about whether Instant Checkmate is a good service for your needs.

Our Ad Alerts are not just about false and deceptive marketing issues, but may also be about ads that, although not necessarily deceptive, should be viewed with caution. Ad Alerts can also be about single issues and may not include a comprehensive list of all marketing issues relating to the brand discussed.

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