Problem Solvers check on big claims by background check site

Problem Solvers check on big claims by background check site »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Chris Gardner said he and his family wanted to find a long-lost uncle. They thought the website, Instant Checkmate, would do the job.

But Gardner said it did not. He said nearly every report they searched on their family members on Instant Checkmate had false or missing information.

"You don't have real records. You don't have real products. So, why are you stealing from us?," said Gardner at his home in Portland.

Gardner said he asked for his money back, more than $60. But he said Instant Checkmate refused.

"It's like robbing you, like going somewhere and getting robbed," said Gardner.

Gardner said it's not just the money, but also that the facts don't add up; a jumble of sometimes wrong information that could give people the wrong impression about you.

"Which could jeopardize business, families, marriages," said Gardner. "That could ruin someone."

The Better Business Bureau web site showed Instant Checkmate had an A- grade, but also more than 800 complaints from across the country. Some complaints, the site showed, referred to incorrect information on reports, as well as surprise charges and false promises.

The Problem Solvers tested Instant Checkmate's marketing by doing a name search. We chose the name John Kitzhaber, Oregon's governor.

The website showed screens making big claims about John Kitzhaber's report.

"CAUTION: this background report is very graphic," the Instant Checkmate site said.

"WARNING - Graphic Content," it also said.

The site then asked the user to pay money to access the report.

The Problem Solvers asked Instant Checkmate how the report on Oregon's governor, John Kitzhaber, was graphic.

One of the founders, Joey Rocco, sent a statement that read,"...the dictionary definition for 'graphic' includes 'detailed' and Instant Checkmate does believe the reports are detailed."  

When asked about the accuracy of the reports, he said,"...the website stresses that the information may not be 100% accurate as it relies on public records (which may not always be complete or accurate)."

The Federal Trade Commission filed charges against Instant Checkmate in March and said the site offered itself as a way to do background checks for jobs and renters without taking reasonable steps to make sure that they were accurate.

Documents showed the company settled the case last month, with the FTC asking for a fine of about $500,000 and for the company to follow the law.

Rocco said in an email that Instant Checkmate is a responsible company.

Gardner disagreed.

"They need to be stopped," said Gardner.