The Best Background Check Companies
According to CareerBuilder, 75% of businesses have hired undesirable candidates. The cost of hiring a single wrong person? A whopping $17,000 on average. Luckily, even the best background check costs far less. Selecting a reputable background check company is therefore crucial. Since there are many shady options out there, we developed a comprehensive evaluation methodology to, well, do a background check on those companies. Scroll down to discover the best in the business.
2020’s Best Background Check Providers
Redwood City, CA
GoodHire is a leading self-service background check provider established in 2012. It provides FCRA compliant pre-employment screenings for companies of all sizes, especially overstretched and underserved HR departments of small organizations. Thanks to its user-friendly process, advanced technology, up-to-date compliance tools, and mobile-optimized service, GoodHire is trusted by over 80,000 employers.
New York, NY
Sterling helps businesses create safer environments for their employees and customers through high-quality services. This reputable background check company offers everything from general screenings to advanced tests, checks, and verifications across multiple domains. It also helps organizations enhance their recruiting, tracking, and monitoring through its extensive partner ecosystem.
Established in 1994, Peopletrail is one of the best criminal background check companies that work with clients of all sizes and sectors. The firm takes pride in providing highly accurate screenings, an industry-leading turnaround time of below 1.6 business days, up-to-date compliance guidance, and human touch to every client interaction.
With almost 40 years of experience, fast turnaround time, and highly-personalized customer care, Verified Credentials is at the forefront of the background check business and one of the leading personal background check companies. It provides screening services for a wide array of purposes and sectors. Plus, it offers streamlined workflow services, platforms, and international screening capabilities.
With 1,700+ on-shore employees, 24/7 customer support availability, and 16,000 worldwide customers, Accurate provides the best background checks for employers in the small to medium range. It offers vast screening capabilities, including global searches. Its advanced processes, state-of-the-art technology, and personalized service have made it a recognizable industry name.
IntelliCorp is a leader in the employment screening industry thanks to its continued investment in new products and technologies, top-notch customer service, and wide range of screening options, including tenant background check services. It provides custom programs and comprehensive training courses and materials to help clients maintain compliance and seamlessly manage their hiring process.
PBSA-accredited and recognized by the Security Magazine’s Security 500, InfoMart is a leading business background check company that offers the highest level of technology, compliance, and security to its customers. With three decades of experience, a turnaround time of just over a day, an FCRA-certified team, and a global footprint, this employer background check agency leaves no details uncovered.
HireRight is among the most trusted criminal background check companies, having helped over 40,000 organizations hire the right talent. It provides high-quality screening and client experience services with a global reach. Clients praise it for its technologically advanced products and superior customer care.
Owings Mills, MD
Employment Background Investigations is one of the best background check services with over 25 years of experience in streamlining the talent acquisition process for businesses of all sizes. It can build a tailored screening program for your needs thanks to its industry-leading technology that allows for 55,000 customizations. If you have simple needs, you can choose from its pre-built packages.
Beverly Hills, CA
Strategically positioned as a software developer and data provider, Intelifi offers comprehensive screening solutions, including background check services for landlords with high accuracy, seamless functionality, and useful compliance tools. The company marries best-in-class experts with state-of-the-art technology. Its custom-built software Emerge provides fast, safe, and reliable background checks.
RentPrep is a team of FCRA-certified screeners who take pride in offering comprehensive tenant screening services. As one of the leading background check companies for landlords, it helps underserved property owners with high-quality background checks for their potential tenants. The company also offers discounted enterprise solutions for high-volume orders.
PeopleFinders allows you to search for people, unveiling different information like relatives, marriages, divorces, bankruptcies, and criminal records. Since 1999, it has grown into one of the best background check companies for individuals, providing organized and fast access to public records data. Note that its reports aren’t FCRA-compliant, meaning that you can’t use them for employment or rental decisions.
San Diego, CA
Instant Checkmate is the best background check website for instant reports. You can search for information like addresses, age, known aliases, criminal and arrest records, and related court documents. It’s a great way to check people in your surroundings or find estranged relatives and friends.
Key Qualities of the Best Background Check Providers
We curated this list of the most reliable background screening firms based on our carefully-developed evaluation criteria. We dived into a deep search across the screening industry to determine the essential qualities that make a top background checking company. Scroll down to find out what to look for in screening service providers.
Compliance & Accreditations
If you intend to use the background information to make hiring or business lending decisions, you must opt for an FCRA compliant background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines the federal laws and guidelines on how employee background checks must be performed. The FCRA asks you to obtain a job candidate’s consent to be checked and allow them to review and dispute the information discovered during screening. It also ensures that employment background check companies provide accurate information.
If you’re curious whether your Instagram admirer has some dirty secrets or the new neighbors are safe to hang out with, any of the public records sites that provide instant results would work just fine. But using non-FCRA compliant reports to make business decisions could expose you to lawsuits. For extra protection, we recommend considering accredited members of PBSA (Professional Background Screening Association). Only the best background check companies that abide by strict professional guidelines have this accreditation.
Our research showed that the most reputable pre-employment screening firms have in-house legal counsel who ensures compliance with the latest requirements and promptly warns clients about potential issues.
Ease of Use
The best online background check providers have intuitive websites with clearly displayed services and other relevant information. We eliminated companies with malfunctioning sites, as it can cause potential clients to doubt the quality of the services they provide.
Another essential thing to consider is how easy it is to access and understand the reports. Some companies will let you see their client portal and sample reports before paying, which eases the decision-making process. The screenings are worth nothing if they contain a pile of poorly organized information. The top background check sites we selected provide simple, on-point reports that you can use to make informed decisions.
Fast Turnaround Time
The turnaround time might not be critical if you’re conducting a personal background check. That said, you can still miss out on hiring a great candidate if your business background checking process takes too long.
The best background check sites take between one and five days to provide a professional background check. You might find agencies that deliver reports instantly, but these tend to be less accurate and detailed. The timeframe may vary depending on the scope and type of information you need to verify.
Most screening agencies give estimates on their websites or upon request, with some even listing timeframes for each service. The most reputable background check companies have established a streamlined investigatory process and can prepare accurate and prompt reports.
If you need to screen candidates, look for companies with experience in your industry to navigate you through the entire process. From advising on who to screen and the type of information you should obtain, to how to use the reports in the selection process, top background check websites provide more than blunt background checks for employers. Those with multi-industry experience are more likely to provide advanced assistance in your domain and closely-related sectors, which is essential when interviewing candidates with different backgrounds.
Choosing an employee background check company that knows your industry is a must for highly-regulated sectors like health care, finance, and work involving children. The same applies to other sensitive industries like construction, transportation, and manufacturing, where professional screenings help employers ensure safety and compliance in the workplace.
Multiple Types of Checks & Screening Available
The top background check providers offer various screening options, from standard checks like a criminal background check to specific searches like motor vehicle records or drug testing. Ensure that you hire a company that can perform every background screen you need, primarily if you operate in an industry with strict hiring regulations. Full-service background check companies go beyond basic database search, following up with relevant institutions and references to further inspect the record. Highly accurate and comprehensive background checks can help you make the right hiring decision, stay compliant, and straighten your company’s reputation.
The most common background screenings include:
- SSN trace
- Address history check
- Criminal history screening
- Sex offender registry search
- Civil records check
Top companies also offer supplemental searches like:
- Employment verification
- Professional license verification
- Education verification
- Military records verification
- Drug screening
- Motor vehicle records
- Credit report check
- Reference checks
- Workers’ compensation history searches
- Healthcare sanction checks
- Identity check
- Social media search
- International check
- Domestic watchlist search
- Global watchlist search
Some background check agencies offer preset plans, while others let you create your own bundle. We prefer outfits that offer both options. Bundles might not work for you if you need just one or a few types of basic screenings. Look into whether your background checking company of choice provides custom options, so you don’t end up paying for things that you don’t need or purchasing a plan that doesn’t meet your requirements.
The world is more connected than ever before, with many people living and working in other states, countries, and even continents. If you’re doing business in places with open access to international talent, you have to look for pre–employment screening companies with a global reach. Our list includes trusted services with multi-language capabilities, cultural knowledge, and resources to perform global screenings.
Strong Customer Support
Excellent customer support is a must in today’s competitive marketplace, especially when sensitive information is involved. For this reason, we only recommend background check companies that offer premium support with access to people ready to answer your questions and remedy any issues that may arise. What could go wrong? Missed or incorrect records, misspellings, typos, and missing information are just a few of the scenarios that can cause frustration, especially when conducting pre-employment screenings. Whether you need to resolve an issue or discuss special requests, prompt and attentive customer representatives should await on the other side of the line or the screen.
You may not be concerned about building a relationship with a background check company if you only need screenings every once in a while or conduct searches for personal use. But if your company performs checks regularly, you need a provider that will take the time to learn more about your recruiting process and industry, monitor the rules, regulations, and laws that concern you, and update you of any changes.
Top background check companies operate with a partner mentality, building tailored background screening programs for ongoing clients. Some will even assign a team member to your company to better understand your business. This way, you’ll always communicate with the same person who’s familiar with your unique needs.
You must choose a company that handles sensitive data with integrity and attention to detail. Inaccurate negative background checks could significantly affect people’s lives, while falsely positive reports could cost employers resources and reputation. For this reason, it’s critical to hire a company that provides highly accurate and up-to-date screenings. We handpicked providers with a proven track record for providing error-free reports.
The price is a crucial factor when selecting background screening companies, but you should never compromise the reports’ quality and accuracy for a lower price. Look for providers that offer both competitive prices and premium quality service.
Prices vary based on the types of screenings, but most firms offer pre-built packages with optional add-ons or allow you to create a custom program. If you have simple screening needs, choosing some of the bundled products should work for you. But if you have special requirements, you might want to look for firms that can help you build a personalized program and streamline your entire talent acquisition and onboarding process.
How to Choose the Best Background Check Provider for Your Business
While we performed in-depth research to find the most trustworthy background companies for every need, it’s on you to figure out which provider will best suit your unique requirements. We put together an easy-to-follow buying guide to help you choose the best background check site for your needs.
Define Your Screening Needs
Are you an online dater who prefers to check people before meeting in person? Or you’re a company that needs pre-employment background checks? You can use any service for personal use, but you must go with an FCRA compliant background check company for hiring or other business purposes.
A small business that hires once in a while will need background check firms that offer a-la-carte services. Organizations that scale rapidly or big enterprises might need ongoing employment background check services and tailored programs to streamline their recruiting and onboarding process. Businesses in specific industries might need to pay premium prices for detailed background checks. At the same time, those in high turnover sectors could get away with the most basic background check for employment at a lower price.
International companies or those operating in diverse markets will need background investigation companies with global screening capabilities. If you’re hiring for executive or other high positions, you’ll most likely want to perform a comprehensive background check. Every employer has different needs. Outline your screening requirements before contacting potential companies. Then you can select the best firms that can perform the checks and verifications you need.
Know Your Screening Limitations
If you’re going to use the background check for employment or other business decisions, you must work with an FCRA-compliant company. Using databases that don’t adhere to FCRA guidelines for a criminal background check or other employment screenings could lead to lawsuits against you and your business.
You must obtain written consent from each candidate to perform a background check for employment purposes. If a candidate wants to review the results, you must comply with the request. The best background check websites provide resources on how to handle the uncovered information and go over it with potential candidates, allowing them to confirm or deny the results. Finally, you have to be careful not to violate any Equal Employment Opportunity laws, meaning that you can’t use the information in the reports to discriminate against the candidates.
Your industry might also have special employee background check requirements. Look for the best background check service for employers with experience in your domain that will ensure compliance in the ever-changing regulatory environment.
See Sample Forms
Different background check websites present results differently. We recommend looking for sample forms on the companies’ websites or requesting for one. This way, you can see if the information is organized in a clear and easy-to-use way. Going through this step can help you quickly decide between companies with similar offerings and price points.
Watch Out for Unrealistic Claims
Be aware of sketchy background check sites. Some providers promise “multi-jurisdictional” or “national search,” but a national registry with updated information for every jurisdiction doesn’t exist. To spot unrealistic claims, make sure you understand what kind of information is available through background screening. If you need more advanced investigation, reach out to the sales team to discuss your options and build a custom background check package.
Background Check Services FAQ
What Do Companies Use for Background Checks?
Most companies use outside vendors for background checks. Pulling information from public databases, contacting references, and verifying the results is a time-consuming task. Plus, to use these reports for pre-employment purposes, they must be FCRA-compliant. For these reasons, companies hire professional background check outfits to conduct comprehensive screening on potential employees.
Do Small Businesses Need to Conduct Background Checks?
Background checks are equally useful for big and small businesses, if not more for the latter. If you hire someone who has lied about their qualifications, skills, and experience, you might end up spending more resources on training or firing and sourcing new candidates. Such expenses impact a small business more than a larger one. Suppose you hire someone with a criminal history who steals from your company or exposes your co-workers to danger. In that case, you might get sued or experience severe damage to your business reputation. We have listed trusted background check services for small businesses, offering flexible plans and reasonable prices.
What Is the Best Background Check for Employment?
It all comes down to your organization’s unique needs. The ultimate employment background check will depend on your company size, budget, special industry requirements, and other factors. Outline your screening needs to find the best employer background check service for your business.
Can I Run My Own Employment Background Check?
Yes, you can run a personal background check by utilizing some of the best online background check agencies that follow FCRA guidelines and see what potential employers will see on your report. Part of the information on the background check is pulled from public databases where mistakes are common. Inaccurate results can cost you a job opportunity or slow down the hiring process if you need to dispute a record. Running your background check will help you fix any issues before they get in the eyes of potential employers. You can also add explanations to records to help hiring managers understand what happened. Some job hunters prefer to attach a report to their resume and job boards to leave a professional impression to employers.
Are Online Background Checks Accurate?
Our list of background check companies features services that provide accurate reports. If you, however, opt for a different outfit, beware of low-quality services. It’s best to ask potential companies about credentials like the PBSA, which sources they use, and whether they verify the information. If you want to clear any doubts about its legitimacy, check if the company has a physical address and phone number to reach customer representatives.
Then, keep in mind that online background check services that promise instant results don’t follow FCRA guidelines and might be less accurate than those that take a few days to verify the information. Remember that if you need an employment background check, your company of choice must meet FCRA guidelines.
How Far Back Do Most Background Checks Go?
It all comes down to the type of background check, compliance laws, and where and what is being searched. Many factors affect how far back you can go to the candidate’s personal history. In general, the best online background check agencies provide reports that cover seven years of criminal and court records.
Here is how far typically background checks go, depending on the type of information being searched:
- Pre-employment background checks contain seven years of criminal and court records but can go back further depending on what is being screened and compliance laws.
- Criminal misdemeanors and minor infractions may be reported if these situations occurred in the last five, seven, ten years, or indefinitely depending on where the candidate lives or works.
- Criminal felonies may be restricted to seven or ten years or reported indefinitely depending on the state where the subject lives or works.
- Bankruptcy checks cover ten years of records.
- Employment credit checks cover seven to ten years, depending on the subject’s salary and if not restricted otherwise by specific state laws.
- Depending on the state, driving records go back between three to ten years.
- Employment history, educational history, and professional licenses may be verified throughout the candidate’s lifetime.
Is There a Free Background Check Service?
Many background check sites claim to provide free background checks, but in the end, they ask you to pay to unlock more information. If you want a free background check, you have to put in the work. The process might involve researching through search engines, publicly accessible databases, and social media. To gain access to some records, you might need to set up accounts with government websites or submit requests in person and wait for days or weeks for answers. The best background check agencies, especially those that follow FCRA guidelines, are paid services.