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Not only is bringing on a new employee risky, but the process requires lots of resources. There are training and compensation costs, of course, but also finding a reliable background check company to make sure that these expenses turn out to be a good investment instead of a money-pit nightmare. Making sure you’re using one of the best background check websites available to perform a record search is part of making the process go smoothly.
But for every reputable, dependable, and accurate pre-employment screening service, there’s a scam, too. Here’s what you should know about choosing the best background check sites before you decide which you’re going to spend money on.
No one background check fits every business owner—that’s why finding the best background check company to screen new employees isn’t so easy. Here’s what you should come to the table knowing:
According to private investigator Ari Morse of BestPI, your background check company should be able to walk you through the screening process to mitigate the risks of lawsuits. There are several small, nuanced protocols of criminal background checks especially, and they often vary on an industry-by-industry basis. For that reason, it’s best to work with a background check company that can tailor pre-employment screening and background search packages to suit your needs.
For example, if you need to screen a job candidate who’s lived in multiple counties, your best background check company will connections to fetch updated records from local county courthouses. The multi-jurisdictional databases can be outdated from one county to the next—so this part will be important.
Your vendor should also be familiar with common scams and crimes related to your industry. Maybe your employment sector has higher exposure to a crime risk than other types of industries—heath care, for one. Your screening firm might point out that you need drug screens along with driving records based on the type of work your employee will be doing.
There are many online background check search databased that claim to be valid. But if the database isn’t Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliant, you shouldn’t be using it to screen employment candidates.
The FCRA was enacted to make sure that credit agencies and any other consumer reporting agencies (like background check companies) provide accurate information for individuals whose information will be used in decisions including hiring and business lending.
Check the terms of service for sites you use to perform background checks to ensure the data they are providing is FCRA compliant. Using information that is not FCRA compliant to make employment decisions could even open you up to possible lawsuits.
What do we mean? Say you Google an employment candidate and find an eight-year-old mugshot image of the person. You might decide not go ahead with the hire once you see that. But this kind of search is not FCRA compliant for a few reasons:
If you decided against hiring someone on this basis, you could very likely have a lawsuit on your hands. So, think again before you perform a web search that might produce information you really can’t use for pre-employment screening services. (Again, this is why you get a reliable background check company to do the work for you!)
Remember, FCRA compliance is everything. Avoid databases like USA People Search, People Finders, or similar websites. These aren’t approved for pre-employment screening purposes—and running a criminal background check on these sites could expose you to liability.
You also want to work with a firm that can help you develop a protocol for screening employees. A good company with experience in this area can guide you through deciphering the information in these reports. They can help you handle going over this information with a potential candidate to confirm or deny the accuracy of the information you’ve dug up.
Background checks can get unwieldy and expose you to risks you might not have considered—think about getting a candidate’s permission to perform the screen and having to deal with adverse and pre-adverse action letters, for instance. So, work with an experienced partner to help. Ideally, work with a company that has a human element experienced in all these issues.
Finding a good background check site can be confusing because so many exist (do a quick web search and you’ll find that out quickly!). To help filter the list down, look for important credentials that indicate a reputable business.
One accreditation standard comes from the National Association of Professional Background. You can check their directory for background check companies that make the grade. Some companies also have Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation. If they aren’t BBB accredited, you can at least check their BBB profile for ratings.
In our research, here are the companies we’ve found to provide best background check websites to use when hiring new employees. With these, you’ll be able to perform a reliable search of criminal background and do a thorough vetting of new staff before hiring:
Background Report is an easy, DIY option for people wanting to start and finish the entire background check process online. This service is designed to be inclusive allowing for the job candidate to see results, provide feedback, and dispute or explain them if necessary.
Accurate Now offers automated background checks for small and medium-size businesses. The company offers U.S.-based support along with a straightforward pricing structure clearly outlined on their website.
Good Hire, based in Redwood, California, offers a hassle-free online portal for business owners who need pre-employment screening services. GoodHire has been recognized for its easy-to-use user interface and excellent customer service.
Employment Screening Resources was founded in 1997 by hiring attorney Lester Rosen. Based in San Francisco, ESR has leadership well-versed in labor and hiring law and offers US-based data processing to deliver their services.
HireRight offers pre-employment screening in more than 240 countries and territories and can handle applicants in 20 languages. The HireRight platform also offers a number of integrations for existing e-recruiting applications.
EasyBackgrounds is a New Hampshire-based company that started in 1995 as a commercial investigative services firm. They offer a broad spectrum of investigative services including background checks.
Verified Credentials provides both personal and commercial background check services. The personal background check is useful for people who want to know what information is displayed when a potential employer looks into their background.
Justifacts has been around since 1982 and provides pre-employment screening services to small businesses along with enterprise organizations. Each client is assigned an account manager to help personalize the screening process and interpret report results.
Based in Marietta, Georgia, Infomart helps client develop pre-employment screening procedures that are industry specific. Services include verifications, credit history checks, and background reports.
A newer startup, Checkr has become the go-to choice of many technology companies—both big and small. The company is an automated and mobile-friendly platform that’s well set-up to handle gig workers as well as full-time staff.
If you see your business in a big growth phase, you might want to consider something like Onfido. On top of performing background checks for both the US and UK, this startup also ties in onboarding, too, with its automation platform.
Many background check companies claim that they can provide a “national search” or “multi-jurisdictional” search for background checks. There’s no true national registry that can provide updated information for every single jurisdiction. Criminal convictions can happen at the municipal, state, county, and federal level. Plus, the federal crime database is not searchable by date of birth or social security number.
Any online background search site that makes that claim is dubious—so look elsewhere.
Once you’ve identified a site that you feel is a reliable background check company to fit your needs, make sure you understand the information that’s actually available through the background check. If you need something more extensive, reach out to someone in customer service who might be able to modify your background check package.
Whichever service you use to check a potential employee’s background, make sure you’re familiar with your responsibility as an employer. Hiring is an important decision, so make sure you have all of the information you need while also minimizing your exposure to risk. Working with one of the best, FCRA-compliant background check sites should help—and this list is a great place to begin.