The Best Background Check Services of 2020

Our background check services reviews are the result of over 40 hours of research on 85+ background check services companies from across the web. These reviews and our background check services guide help small businesses and startups find the best background check services for their business.

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How We Chose the Best Background Check Services

The needs of a small business are varied, but there are a few constants. One of those constants is hiring reliable employees. That’s where background checks come in. Small businesses pay companies that specialize in background check services to help them screen and verify important information about potential hires. We evaluated companies that offer background check services based on the types of checks they offer, how well their information integrates with other third-party applications, and whether or not they meet certain privacy standards and compliance measures. We used these elements as the core of our rating for the best background check services available in 2020.

Multiple Background Check Types

Versatility in the type and amount of screenings is beneficial to small businesses. Having all of the options available under one roof helps streamline their processes. The types of background checks commonly available include criminal history, professional licenses, education and more.

Supports Integrations

All of the best background check services can be integrated with ATS and HR software to a certain extent. Some companies have preconfigured integrations ready to go for dozens of third-party platforms. Some support only a handful while others also allow clients to use their API to ensure seamless integration with their other platforms. Small businesses that lack expertise in APIs and integration should ask service providers about the assistance provided.

Compliance

Newcomers to the world of pre-employment screening and candidate verification will hear a lot about compliance, and it is a big deal. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is important but easily managed with the appropriate tools, knowledge and expert advice. We chose the best background check services that are FCRA-compliant, are NAPBS-accredited and follow all other regulations and best practices in privacy.

The 15 Best Background Check Services of 2020

CompanyPriceService LinesMore
AccurateNowBasic+ - $29.95
Standard - $59.95
Premium - $74.95
SSN Trace
Education Verification
Drug Testing
Criminal History
Driving Records
International Checks
Visit AccurateNow
AsurintUndisclosedCivil and Criminal Checks
Drug Testing
Financial Checks
Driving Records
Education / Employment / License Verification
Visit Asurint
B&B Reporting Inc.UndisclosedMulti-Jurisdictional Criminal Search
Civil Records
Public Records
Drug Testing
Driving Records
International Checks
Verifications
Visit B&B Reporting Inc.
CheckrUndisclosedCriminal Records
Civil Searches
Domestic and International Registries
Driver Screenings
Drug and Health Tests
Verifications
Visit Checkr
ClearStarUndisclosedCriminal Records
Driver and MVR
Drug and Health
Registry Searches
Verifications
International Checks
Social Media Screening
Visit ClearStar
EBI Inc.UndisclosedBackground Checks
Criminal Records
Drug Testing
Occupational Health
Form I-9 / E-Verify
References / Credentials
Visit EBI Inc.
GoodHireUndisclosedCriminal Records
Driving Records
Drug Screening
Credit Checks
Education and Employment
Healthcare Sanctions
Visit GoodHire
HireRightEconomy - $39.95/month
Advantage - $69.95/month
Advantage Plus - $79.95/month
Criminal Background
Identity and Verifications
Drug and Health
Form I-9 / E-Verify
Executive Intelligence
Global Screening
Visit HireRight
InfoMartUndisclosedSSN Trace
Criminal History
Driver / MVR
FACIS / OIG
Education and Employment
Drug Test
National Sex Offender
Visit InfoMart
IntelifiUndisclosedCriminal Records
FBI Background Checks
Driving Records
SSN Verifications
Sex Offender Registry
Finance and Tenancy Checks
Drug Testing
Employment and Education
Visit Intelifi
IntellicorpUndisclosedSSN + Address History
Government Sanctions
Validated Criminal Database
Professional Verifications
Sex Offender Registry
International Searches
Visit Intellicorp
JustifactsUndisclosedCriminal Background
Employment and Education
Drug and Medical
Motor Vehicle Records
Address History
References and Licenses
Form I-9 / E-Verify
International Search
Visit Justifacts
PeopletrailBasic Screening Package: $12-$25
Standard Screening Package: $35-$50
Advanced Screening Package: $50-$75
Criminal Background
Social Media Check
Volunteer Screening
Identity and Financial
Health and Drugs
Form I-9 / E-Verify
Extended Workforce Screening
Global Search
Visit Peopletrail
SterlingUndisclosedCriminal Checks
Drug and Health
Verifications
Workforce Monitoring
Fingerprinting
Global Searches
Visit Sterling
Verified CredentialsUndisclosedCriminal History
ID and Public Records
Academic and Professional Verifications
Form I-9 / E-Verify
International Screening
Credit Reports
Visit Verified Credentials

AccurateNow

AccurateNow-Logo
AccurateNow is one of the most widely used services in the industry, and it is designed to help small and mid-size businesses comply with FCRA and other relevant regulations. The company is nationally accredited with access to federal, state and local criminal records, as well as the sex offender registry and current court status of an individual.

It also works at the international level with features such as Form I-9 collection and E-Verify to streamline the process of hiring international workers. This allows businesses to move faster, hire trustworthy employees and remain in compliance with the applicable laws.

The setup fee of $25 is relatively low, and the pricing for each package is transparent, with a clear list of features available. Apart from the core services in each package, customers can purchase add-ons ranging from $5 to $10 that cover professional licenses as well as past and current employers.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Basic+ - $29.95
Standard - $59.95
Premium - $74.95
SSN Trace
Education Verification
Drug Testing
Criminal History
Driving Records
International Checks
>ATS integration
>Advanced API
>Automated Court Access
>More features at AccurateNow

Pros & Cons of AccurateNow Background Check Services
AccurateNow provides worldwide coverage with enterprise-level features available to small and mid-size businesses. The GlobalWatch suite of checks is included in both standard and premium packages. Add-ons can be ordered as needed at reasonable rates. Follow-up emails and requests for information and documents can be confusing.

ProsCons
>Enterprise-level software
>Social media search
>GlobalWatch tracks fraud, sanctions and terrorist lists
>Follow-up emails can be unclear

What Customers Are Saying
A customer who recently switched from a competitor recommends AccurateNow for its thorough background checks, saying, “The most thorough background check company I have ever used.” Another user gives this service a positive review for its user-friendly and responsive layout, saying, “The dashboard is very straightforward and allows for easy organization.”

Asurint

Asurint-Logo
Asurint provides industry-specific and general employee background checks at the enterprise level, including SMEs, and it can also manage rescreens and ongoing monitoring. The client service team and industry experts are based in the United States and have vast knowledge in various sectors such as health care, transport, retail and non-profit.

Employers can set a custom timeframe for criminal history searches or leave it open ended. Some jurisdictions set a maximum of 7 years when reporting the criminal convictions of an individual, and others allow reporting of crimes regardless of how much time has passed.

Every section of the background check is FCRA-compliant and ready to be used legally in the hiring process, including any state-specific rights that may apply. Asurint is accredited by the PBSA for employment screening in the United States and can be integrated with over 30 applicant tracking systems.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCivil and Criminal Checks
Drug Testing and Medical
Financial Checks
Driving Records
Education / Employment / License Verification
>ATS integration
>Automated local / state / federal compliance
>Real-time stats
>More features at Asurint

Pros & Cons of Asurint Background Check Services
Consumer privacy is one of Asurint’s strong points, as well as compliance right down to the local level regarding the types and amount of information provided. Typical background checks are completed within days and are highly accurate.

ProsCons
>Strong privacy policy for consumers
>Average turnaround time of 24-48 hours
>Low ratio of disputes to searches
>Undisclosed pricing

What Customers Are Saying
One reviewer who has used Asurint on more than one occasion compliments the organization, saying, “I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Asurint.” Similarly, a customer who is currently in the interview process rates it highly, saying, “Process is smooth.”

B&B Reporting Inc.

B_B-Reporting-Inc.-Logo
B&B Reporting Inc. has been in business for over 20 years and offers a comprehensive set of pre-employment checks and professional verification services. It’s suitable for enterprise use — the team works with individual businesses to create an appropriate plan in each scenario — while requiring no minimum number of checks and charging no setup fees.

All reports made by B&B are fully compliant with the relevant state and federal laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). Applicants can be invited electronically to submit information and documents and give their consent for in-depth disclosure to the employer.

Multi-jurisdictional criminal history checks generally take an average of 24 hours to complete, and they include the sex offender registry, SSN validation and search of Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableMulti-Jurisdictional Criminal Search
Civil Records
Public Records
Drug Testing
Driving Records
International Checks
Verifications
>ATS / HR integrations
>Bulk orders
>Applicant self-service
>More features at B&B Reporting Inc.

Pros & Cons of B&B Reporting Inc. Background Check Services
The most common set of checks are completed within 24 hours on average, and the software platform is highly configurable with over 2,000 options. B&B Reporting Inc. has a long track record and provides one-on-one support. There is no set pricing or instant activation.

ProsCons
>24-hour average turnaround for reports
>No minimum checks required
>Highly configurable software
>No standard plans
>No instant setup

What Customers Are Saying
There are very few public reviews found online for B&B Reporting Inc. It currently has one Google review, which is a full five stars and has no additional comments.

Checkr

Checkr-Logo
Checkr is a very popular background check service that is known for its ease of use and quick integration process. It’s appropriate for enterprise and start-up alike and offers access to a suite of tools for risk management, analysis and the hiring process in general.

Employers can select from a list of industry-specific background checks or create a customized search that is tailored to their needs. Checkr also offers role-specific solutions in the areas of HR Leadership, Talent Acquisition, Compliance and Operations.

Checkr’s software generally focuses on providing a large, optimized pool of talent to select from, although the field can be narrowed considerably with many options. In the case of adverse action, the software generates documents that are fully compliant with federal and local regulations, and these can be customized for specific needs.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCriminal Records
Civil Searches
Domestic and International Registries
Driver Screenings
Drug and Health Tests
Verifications
>APIs and pre-built integrations
>AI-powered and automated solutions
>Continuous monitoring
>More features at Checkr

Pros & Cons of Checkr Background Check Services
Checkr’s system is intuitive and easy to learn, and personalized support is available. Fingerprinting is not offered, which means Checkr is unable to verify against FBI records. Ordering a drug test often causes a delay. Applicants are reminded when their input is required.

ProsCons
>Personalized client support
>Simple integrations
>Automated notifications for applicants
>Drug tests can slow the process
>No fingerprinting for FBI verfications

What Customers Are Saying
The CEO of a small business recently left a review for the service, saying, “Checkr’s platform is so easy to use and helped us get workers verified much quicker.” Another customer appreciates the help with integrations, saying, “Each bump along the way was given undivided attention.”

ClearStar

ClearStar-Logo
ClearStar provides one of the most comprehensive lists of services in the industry, including social media screening, clinical and medical testing, as well as aerospace and defense checks that are compliant with the Department of Defense.

ClearID is a proprietary tool that provides an integration with Virtual Badge — a workforce identity app and virtual ID card — and private labeling can be implemented for a truly professional look. Employee monitoring is also available, with instant alerts of infractions, and it can be performed monthly, weekly or as often as every day.

Tenant screening is another large area of expertise for ClearStar, with a full suite of tools and reports available. This includes instant searches that cover national criminal and sex offender databases and registries and some other special lists that can be accessed in real time.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCriminal Records
Driver and MVR
Drug and Health
Registry Searches
Verifications
International Checks
Social Media Screening
>ATS / HR integrations
>Doctor-reviewed tests
>Automated access control
>More features at ClearStar

Pros & Cons of ClearStar Background Check Services
ClearStar is known for having a user-friendly platform for employers and applicants, and for its selection of pre-configured reports, such as tenant screening and clinical testing. However, some non-standard checks such as aerospace and defense, can be time consuming.

ProsCons
>User-friendly for employer and applicant
>In-depth tenant screening package
>DOD-compliant for aerospace and defense
>Non-standard checks are often slow

What Customers Are Saying
A small business administrator gives ClearStar high grades for its software, saying, “The best thing about ClearStar is its simple and easy to use interface.” Another reviewer makes a similar point, saying, “Relatively easy to use and user friendly.”

EBI Inc.

EBI-Inc-Logo
EBI Inc. provides pre-employment screening and background checks in the United States and internationally, and its entire support infrastructure is based in the United States. It provides customized services to small business and enterprise organizations with plans and prices that are highly personalized.

In addition to the typical suite of screening tools, such as criminal, civil and financial records, potential employees can be drug tested as a one-off or on a regular basis. EBI can also arrange for various occupational health tests that are required or highly beneficial in certain industries, which helps improve safety levels and reduces risk.

Extended workforce screening allows businesses of any size to keep track of temps, contract workers and other third-party vendors on the same platform with automated solutions.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableBackground Checks
Criminal Records
Drug Testing
Occupational Health
Form I-9 / E-Verify
References / Credentials
>ATS / HR integrations
>Extended workforce screening
>Many automated processes
>More features at EBI Inc.

Pros & Cons of EBI Inc. Background Check Services
Compliance is taken seriously, with a team of compliance advisors on staff and FCRA attorneys available at a heavily discounted rate. The company also operates a weekly video news broadcast on HR and screening. There are no standard pricing plans.

ProsCons
>More than 35 integrations ready to go
>Compliance advisors and discounted FCRA attorney fees
>In-house news network for HR and screening issues
>Custom pricing only

What Customers Are Saying
One of EBI’s long-term customers is pleased with the service, and adds, “As a company with multiple sites across various states, it is helpful to have a comprehensive screening company that can handle our needs.” Another user appreciates moving “from a very decentralized legacy approach to a much more streamlined process.”

GoodHire

GoodHire-Logo
GoodHire is a modern, tech-based background check service that serves small businesses and large organizations with screening and FCRA-certified compliance. It’s based in Redwood City, California, and has a U.S.-based support team

As a company that prides itself on technology and data, GoodHire and its support team make sure the service is ready to go with integrations for all popular ATS and HR tools. The GoodHire API can be used in any new platform or custom software.

The interface is optimized for both candidate and business, with mobile-ready workflow and online consent management to speed up the process. Candidates can use the online dispute system to challenge the results of their background check, although the dispute rate is kept low due to the amount of records available to scan.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Basic - $29.99
Standard - $54.99
Premium - $79.99
Criminal Records
Driving Records
Drug Screening
Credit Checks
Education and Employment
Healthcare Sanctions
>Court runner
>APIs and ATS integrations
>High-volume tools
>More features at GoodHire

Pros & Cons of GoodHire Background Check Services
Basic background checks are almost always completed in under 60 seconds, which helps quickly filter out obviously unsuitable candidates. Some screening tools can provide a deeper search at an additional cost, and these levels are clearly described. There are few options for non-profits specifically.

ProsCons
>In-house hosting of over 1 billion records
>Basic background checks are almost instant
>Clearly described levels of screening
>Limited volunteer-specific options
 

What Customers Are Saying
The HR Manager at a mid-size company praises GoodHire for its speed, saying, “I get results very quickly and I’m given an expected return date.” An administrator at a different company is appreciative of their account rep, saying, “Super responsive support staff.”

HireRight

HireRight-Logo
HireRight is one of the largest pre-employment screening and background check services currently in operation, both in terms of database size and number of clients. It’s also a very experienced company — with over 20 years in the industry — and has valuable global connections, which makes it a good fit for many small businesses and large organizations.

The platforms and tools available from HireRight can be used to screen candidates from over 200 countries and 20 languages, which can be very useful for enterprise customers.

Compliance and privacy are handled with care, and risks are minimized by following data security and notification policies that are in line with best practices as well as local, state and federal regulations.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Economy - $39.95/month
Advantage - $69.95/month
Advantage Plus - $79.95/month
Criminal Background
Identity and Verifications
Drug and Health
Form I-9 / E-Verify
Executive Intelligence
Global Screening
>Court runner
>Comprehensive self-service tools
>Screening for 200+ countries
>More features at HireRight

Pros & Cons of HireRight Background Check Services
HireRight offers a good selection of plans that are ready to go and cost-effective compared to many of its competitors. The platform can handle extended workforce and candidate self-service. However, many staff members are outsourced, and checks are slower in areas without electronic records.

ProsCons
>Extended workforce on same platform
>Relatively good value plans
>Effective self-service for candidates
>Outsourced customer service
>Offline record searches are slower

What Customers Are Saying
A large number of HireRight’s current clients speak highly of its accessibility and ease of use, including those with high volumes and sensitive roles. One customer in particular likes the speed, saying, “HireRight is usually pretty quick on turn around time.”

InfoMart

InfoMart-Logo
InfoMart has been in the business of background screening for over 30 years and has established a presence in over 200 countries, including experts on the ground who speak the language and know the specifics of compliance in those countries. This expertise, along with innovative screening solutions, makes InfoMart one of the faster options without taking unnecessary risks.

They have developed a biometric identity screening and onboarding application, which improves the reliability of your screening results. Another of InfoMart’s main benefits is its verified sanctions search that is fully FCRA-compliant and can be used in hiring decisions. The results of this watchlist search are checked by real people, and it will only be reported if the candidate can be identified properly.

InfoMart serves companies of all sizes, including the Fortune 500. They offer industry-specific searches and tools, including global services, volunteer screening, tenant screening, and clinical rotation screening as well as occupational health testing and continuous monitoring.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Custom quoteSSN Trace
Criminal History
Driver / MVR
FACIS / OIG
Education and Employment
Drug Test
Sex Offender Registry
>FCRA-certified staff
>ATS integrations
>Native-language experts around the world
>More features at InfoMart

Pros & Cons of InfoMart Background Check Services
InfoMart is well established in the healthcare and staffing sectors, with many options tailored to these industries that verify candidates against the relevant U.S. and international databases. It also offers social media screening and continuous monitoring services.

ProsCons
>Extensive industry-specific options
>In-house customer services & processing
>Quick turnaround times
>Delays on certain checks can be unexpected

What Customers Are Saying
As of 2020, there aren’t many public reviews available for InfoMart. One recent client says it’s a “solid service” and that it’s “really easy to use.” Overall, the client is happy that his company can do its due diligence in the hiring process.

Intelifi

Intelifi-Logo
Intelifi is a FCRA-compliant and NAPBS-accredited background screening company headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. It uses custom-built platforms — known as Emerge Solutions — to cover many tasks efficiently under one roof. The range of screening tools available is one of the industry’s most extensive.

This company is also one of the biggest to offer FBI background checks on the same platform as everything else, which adds another level of protection while keeping the workflow streamlined and manageable.

As of Summer 2020, the top industries covered by Intelifi background checks are health care, staffing and recruiting, computer software and construction. The Emerge platform AI and licensed specialists work together to sift through inaccurate data and deliver quality, actionable information across most industries.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCriminal Records
FBI Background Checks
Driving Records
SSN Verifications
Sex Offender Registry
Finance and Tenancy Checks
Drug Testing
Employment and Education
>LiveRunner technology (instant court runner)
>Restricted access for different roles
>FCRA-compliant
>More features at Intelifi

Pros & Cons of Intelifi Background Check Services
Intelifi makes its APIs available and easy to use, with the ability to customize the candidate experience by altering the design and adding company branding. It’s also known for being one of the fastest screening companies. However, initial setup can be time consuming.

ProsCons
>APIs and white label pages for applicants
>Custom drug test portal
>Very fast turnaround on basic background
>Relatively complicated setup process
>Few pre-configured ATS integrations

What Customers Are Saying
Most of the recent reviews for Intelifi are overwhelmingly positive in nature, with many clients declaring they had no problems at all. However, one complaint was from a client saying, “There aren’t a lot of 3rd party applications.” Another user says the dashboard is cluttered but informative.

Intellicorp

Intellicorp-Logo
Intellicorp has over two decades of experience and numerous awards from HRO Today, PCMAG and others, as well as having FCRA-certified staff and accreditation from the PBSA.

Apart from the pre-employment search packages and tools, Intellicorp also provides a comprehensive service for tenant screening and volunteer checking. These features can often be found with competing background check services, although they’re not as efficiently put together as the package available here.

Intellicorp has made powerful connections over the years, such as its official partner status with HR Integrations — a software company that brings multiple HR systems together seamlessly — and others such as insurance brokerage firms and consultants.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableSSN + Address History
Government Sanctions
Validated Criminal Database
Professional Verifications
Sex Offender Registry
International Searches
>FCRA-certified employees
>PBSA-accredited company
>Comprehensive tenant screening tools
>More features at Intellicorp

Pros & Cons of Intellicorp Background Check Services
Intellicorp makes the adverse action process fairly simple and safe, and dedicated support is available. Pre-configured search packages can be upgraded or run at a basic level, which can help save money. Drug screening can be delayed by individual labs, and the notifications are often unclear.

ProsCons
>Multiple levels of packaged searches and add-ons
>Dedicated support teams
>Drug tests sometimes become delayed until action is taken
 

What Customers Are Saying
The majority of public reviews for Intellicorp are positive and many compliment the speed, with one client in particular saying, “The results are delivered within a day or two.” A long-term customer appreciates the support, saying, “Customer service is top notch. Been using the system for four years and everything is working.”

Justifacts

Justifacts-Logo
Justifacts is headquartered in Pennsylvania and has a 100% U.S.-based support staff. It has been screening potential employees for over 30 years and has dealt with all kinds of businesses and regulations, and each client is served by an account management team.

This company doesn’t offer pre-configured search packages based on the industry or the candidate’s role. Instead, the account management team tailors each service to the needs of the client. This can be a useful service in many scenarios, although some prefer the self-service style of packages available elsewhere.

Justifacts employs some of the most experienced staff in the industry, including experts on compliance who have received advanced FCRA certification as well as having decades of experience.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCriminal Background
Employment and Education
Drug and Medical
Motor Vehicle Records
Address History
References and Licenses
Form I-9 / E-Verify
International Search
>Advanced FCRA certification
>SOC 2 certification (information security)
>Ongoing post-hire monitoring
>More features at Justifacts

Pros & Cons of Justifacts Background Check Services
Justifacts receives high grades for its staff in many areas, such as compliance and account management, which can lower costs by minimizing unnecessary searches. The insurance and financial sectors are well covered. However, there are no ready-to-go packages.

ProsCons
>Skilled in-house compliance team
>Knowledgeable support helps avoid duplicates
>Comprehensive searches for insurance and financial
>No standardized packages available

What Customers Are Saying
A recent client recommends the company, and adds, “I used Justifacts for more than 6 years and was always pleased with the product and speed of delivery.” He also enjoyed having dedicated support, saying, “The best value however is their friendly professional customer service.”

Peopletrail

People-Trail-Logo

Peopletrail is a Utah-based background check and drug testing company that caters to businesses of all sizes. Larger organizations may benefit from this company’s ability to customize solutions that can adapt, grow and then shrink away when not needed.

This company has decades of experience at the top end of the background check industry — it has been serving government agencies for over 25 years — and it’s capable of performing checks for all law enforcement agencies and various government entities. Clients especially appreciate the Human Touch and Actionable Insights features in Peopletrail’s background checks. They also put their experience to good use on behalf of businesses and non-profit organizations.

Peopletrail is accredited by the PBSA and fully compliant with local and federal regulations. The executive intelligence feature is helpful for making the most of VIP applicants and other high profile candidates that require a closer look and more in-depth checking by both humans and machines.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Basic Screening Package: $12-$25
Standard Screening Package: $35-$50
Advanced Screening Package: $50-$75
Criminal Background
Social Media Check
Volunteer Screening
Identity and Financial
Health and Drugs
Form I-9 / E-Verify
Extended Workforce Screening
Global Search
>Executive intelligence option
>ATS integrations
>FCRA-certified
>More features at Peopletrail

Pros & Cons of Peopletrail Background Check Services
Peopletrail and its staff members have a good reputation for being helpful and proactive in assisting clients with systems or individual searches. Costs are average for the industry except in the case of hand-retrieved court documents.

ProsCons
>Proactive staff help manage workflow
>Above average customer service
>Long history of government agency screening
>Cost is doubled if court records are retrieved manually

What Customers Are Saying
A client left a very positive review in early 2020, with many compliments for the service and the staff in particular, saying, “They have an awesome sales team and their customer service is outstanding.” Another client is happy with their experience, saying, “Peopletrail also helped us avoid hiring some bad eggs.”

Sterling

Sterling-Logo
Sterling is one of the oldest U.S.-based background check companies that is still competitive in the industry. It has offices across five states, including New York and Washington and is capable of in-depth local, federal and global checks. The software platform can be integrated with dozens of ATS providers, and the API can also be used in custom-built systems.

SterlingNOW is a service designed specifically for small businesses. There is no setup fee, and the self-service elements help keep costs low. Results of database searches first undergo QA to ensure compliance, and to filter out invalid data. Self-service clients also have access to CourtDirect, which is Sterling’s court runner technology that sees most criminal searches completed within 60 minutes, and almost all are completed within 24 hours.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCriminal Checks
Drug and Health
Verifications
Workforce Monitoring
Fingerprinting
Global Searches
>Court runner
>FCRA-compliant
>ATS integrations
>More features at Sterling

Pros & Cons of Sterling Background Check Services
Sterling is rated highly for its user-friendly dashboard and clear reporting, and it’s one of the fastest background check services in the industry. Extensive medical and drug screening is available. Some features would be more efficient if automated, and notifications can be delayed.

ProsCons
>Clear, user-friendly dashboard
>One of the fastest for basic background checks
>Pre- and post-drug tests, including DOT
>Intermittent issues with delayed notifications
 

What Customers Are Saying
One recent client had a good experience with Sterling, and in particular he says, “It’s really easy to add a la carte items to your background order.” Others enjoy the user-friendly reports and helpful staff, with one saying, “Its fast, great customer service and easy to read results.”

Verified Credentials

Verified-Credentials-Logo
Verified Credentials is a 100% U.S.-based operation with its main office in Lakeville, Minnesota. It provides screening, tests and verifications across many sectors, and it has a specific focus on health care, which includes coverage of hundreds of care facilities and medical education programs in the United States.

The verifications and screening tools available can cover the needs of most businesses, and small businesses in particular may benefit from the speed of both the customer service and the background checks.

Verified Credentials also offers various services that are suitable for growing businesses, such as bulk screening — either as a one-off or as part of workforce monitoring, including OIG reports and driving records — as well as self-service functionality for candidates. Many of the company’s workflow services can be integrated into existing platforms.

PriceService LinesFeatures
Not availableCriminal History
ID and Public Records
Academic and Professional Verifications
Form I-9 / E-Verify
International Screening
Credit Reports
>FCRA-compliant
>Workflow services
>Healthcare-specific searches
>More features at Verified Credentials

Pros & Cons of Verified Credentials Background Check Services
Verified Credentials can handle most common tasks, and it excels in health care as well as compliance and consent. Criminal checks are returned very quickly and customer service is top notch. However, the cost structure is unclear without requesting quotes.

ProsCons
>Release form and agreement storage
>Fast criminal history checks
>Timely customer service
>No pricing information published

What Customers Are Saying
The mother of a nursing student claims Verified Credentials helped her daughter maintain her position in the program, and adds, “After working with your company, the issue was resolved very quickly.” Another client says that this provider “lives and breathes customer service.”

What Are Background Check Services?

Most background check services can cover a surprising amount of ground — including criminal history — and can also offer medical and drug testing, fingerprinting, social media checks and driving records. Some of these checks are mandatory in certain roles throughout health care, finance, insurance and other sectors, and many small businesses voluntarily perform checks as part of a larger HR system and risk management strategy.

The service providers listed in our reviews are all capable of performing a standard criminal background check — a search of the federal database and the candidate’s county records — and these are typically cheap and fast. Most service providers should complete this level of search within 1 to 3 business days, with the possible exception of locations that don’t maintain electronic records. In this case, paper records must be retrieved manually, and this inevitably raises the cost of the service. The difference in cost can be as much as double, changing the price of each search from around $30 to $60 in affected jurisdictions and also causing delays.

Benefits of Background Check Services

Even when it’s not required by law, it’s generally a good idea to screen potential employees, tenants and volunteers.

  • Increased productivity. Background check services can often provide medical and occupational health screenings, which ultimately increases workplace productivity by maintaining a healthier staff. Ongoing drug testing can also contribute to a more productive staff. Much of this process can be automated.
  • Risk management. Service providers can be greatly beneficial in compliance — most have FCRA-compliant staff, and all of our top picks have FCRA-compliant reporting procedures. This helps small businesses avoid issues with adverse actions and the notifications that must be made according to legislation.
  • High-quality employees. Small businesses that use background checks in the hiring process are almost instantly removing the worst candidates, such as violent offenders, fraudsters and thieves. This leaves more time to look at quality candidates who have a clean record and verified professional licenses or employment histories.
  • Stable workforce. As more and more quality employees come on board, most small businesses experience much less turnover. This helps improve morale and cuts down on training time and costs for new hires, among numerous other benefits.

What to Look For in a Background Check Service

Narrow down the field of choices by identifying what is the most important for a particular type of business.

  • Specific industry or role-related needs. The health care industry has compulsory screening requirements that must be managed efficiently by the background check service. Most of the providers we listed can provide industry-specific solutions in the health, finance and law enforcement industries.
  • Integration with current system. Making sure that any potential service provider can integrate properly with existing software is a must. Ask the sales rep or support team whether they assist new clients in the transition and integration process.
  • Global reach. Many small businesses can do without the global scale of the top service providers, but international screening may be useful at some point. Most of the providers mentioned here are compatible with E-Verify / Form I-9, and roughly half can go further with international record checks.
  • Candidate experience. Self-service options for candidates provide something close to automation for various aspects of the background check process, which helps save time. Service providers also handle any disputes from candidates.

The Cost of Background Check Services

As far as small businesses are concerned, a basic background check will cost around $20 to $30, depending on the service provider. Many also offer a standard or plus background check for around $60 to $70, and these include more in-depth reporting and analysis. It’s also worth noting that the basic level of scan may be inappropriate in some states, which means an upgraded scan and higher cost is required. The service providers generally make this clear in the terms and cost information, so there are no surprises when launching a scan.

On top of these standard price points, most background check services also offer custom plans, including some options that may be useful to small businesses, such as bulk tools and discounts or ongoing drug screening. The cost for these add-ons is highly variable and depends on the industry, type of candidate and other factors.