The Best Background Check Companies of 2020
Updated: August 13, 2019
Performing a background check on a potential employee can reveal important information about that person so you can make the best hiring decision for your business. Background check companies use online technology and in-person searches to discover the details of someone's past, including if they have any felony convictions, misdemeanors, etc. The results of these checks are then compiled into easy-to-read reports.
Many background check companies offer preset packages, or bundled plans, so you can conduct multiple types of searches in one plan and at one price. Many services will let you add on additional screenings; however, some offer strictly a la carte options.
There's a lot that goes into choosing a background check agency for your business: the specific searches you need, your budget and your allotted timeframe (how quickly you need the results).
To help you find the best employee background check services, we researched and analyzed several companies. Our top recommendations for background check services are below, but to learn more about the ins and outs of pre-employment background checks, read our guide to choosing a background check company.
Our Best Picks
Looking for information on background check services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:
This agency offers three preset search packages. Pricewise, packages vary from $29.99 to $79.99 per check. The searches performed in each plan are tiered, with the most advanced package including a Social Security number trace (and associated counties, if applicable), national criminal databases search, sex offender list search, domestic watch list search, a county criminal court search (which examines the past seven years), education verification and employer verification. Users can add on extra searches, such as professional license verification, employment credit report checks, drug screenings, healthcare sanctions checks and motor vehicle records checks.
GoodHire has a one-time setup fee; it does not hold you to a monthly minimum. Background checks take, on average, one to four days to complete, which is in keeping with industry standards.
Registering your account with GoodHire is a simple process. After your business is verified, you can order as many or as few screenings as you need. Reports can be viewed in GoodHire's online portal. GoodHire is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).
It offers three tiered plans. Costs range from $29.95 per report for the Basic plan up to $74.95 per report for the Premium plan. The Premium plan includes a Social Security number trace and address history check, current county criminal search, national criminal check with county verification, national sex offender registry search, global watch search, one education verification and one employment verification. You can add supplementary searches for additional fees. These searches include professional license verification, motor vehicle reports, education and employment verification, and federal criminal searches.
AccurateNow has a one-time setup fee ($25), and each plan is subject to additional fees like county and state statutory fees, international searches and third-party verification fees. (These fees are standard with background check services and should be expected when you conduct certain types of checks and within certain states, counties, etc.)
After your account is approved by the agency, you can begin ordering screenings. AccurateNow has mobile-friendly candidate and recruiter portals, and the background check reports are easy to read and evaluate. AccurateNow is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).
The mobile-friendly platform offers three plans, which range from $24 to $94. The searches performed for each plan vary, with the most comprehensive plan searching more than 300 million national criminal records. In addition, it conducts a Social Security number trace, national sex offender registry search, county court records search for the most recent county the individual has lived in, additional county court records for prior counties where the employee has resided, a national alias search, and a driving record report. There are some search stipulations; for example, New York searches cost an additional $95, and a driving record report is unavailable for Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
eNannySource background checks are highly customizable ‒ you can tack on supplemental searches (additional fees apply). These include county court record searches, reference checks, degree verification, driving record reports and personality assessments. Turnaround times are typically two to three days, and eNannySource simplifies the process by obtaining the candidate's consent and returning results via email. eNannySource advises that, while basic database checks are good preliminary screening tools, they should always be used in conjunction with county court record checks.
B&B Reporting Inc.
B&B Reporting Inc. does not offer plans. Instead, it offers multiple checks and screenings, which you then mix and match together for the background check you'd like conducted. The agency does not list its pricing on its website; instead, you must contact a representative for a price quote. Available screenings include multijurisdictional criminal searches, county criminal searches, statewide criminal searches and federal criminal searches.
Supplemental verifications include public records searches, professional reference checks, employment and education verification, motor vehicle records check, license and professional certification verification, and employment credit checks.
B&B Reporting Inc. has an intuitive online portal. The software is easy to use and has more than 2,000 configuration options to support the needs of many types of businesses. The average turnaround time for a report is 48 hours or less. &B Reporting is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).
Q: What are employee background check services?
A: Employee background check services are screenings conducted and reported on primarily for pre-employment purposes. Turnaround times typically range between one and five days, and the scope of each search varies in detail, depending on what information needs to be recovered about your prospective employee. Employee background check agencies offer their services via preset plans or customizable searches.
Common background check searches include:
- Social Security number traces and address validations
- Misdemeanor and felony criminal records searches at the county, state and national levels
- Sex offender registry searches
- Civil records checks
Common supplemental searches include:
- Employment verification
- Education verification
- Professional license verification
- Motor vehicle records
- Employment credit reports
- Reference checks
- Military records verifications
- Workers' compensation history searches
- Healthcare sanction checks
- Drug screenings
Q: How much does an employee background check service typically cost?
A: The price varies based on which screenings you require. Many agencies offer bundled plans that range from basic to premium. Basic plans typically cost between $15 and $30 per report, and include basic criminal and identity verification like Social Security number trace, national criminal database searches and sex offender registry searches. Standard, or midlevel, plans range from $30 to $60 per report and typically search for everything in the basic plan in addition to a domestic watch list search and a county criminal court search that searches the past seven years. Premium plans typically cost between $60 and $80 per report and search for everything in a standard plan, plus education and employment verifications. The exact cost and records searched will vary based on the provider you choose.
Most background check providers offer supplemental searches for an additional cost. Be prepared to pay third-party fees (e.g., transcript fees) and associated court fees, which often vary by state. Some background check providers charge one-time setup fees, ranging between $25 and $50 for account verification.
Q: How quickly can you expect results from a great background check service?
A: The standard turnaround time for a background check is typically one to five days per report. Some agencies claim to provide results instantly, but these are typically less comprehensive and less accurate. Verify with the agency you select that it (and its reports) complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Many background check companies will list their average turnaround time on their website, and some even go so far as to list the specific turnaround time for each individual service. If turnaround time is critical for your business, contact the agency for an estimate.
Q. Can online background check services be used for pre-employment screening?
A: Many of the online background check services available can be used for pre-employment screening, but they must meet the FCRA guidelines. Many of the online platforms that claim to provide instant results do not meet these guidelines, and, therefore, cannot be used for pre-employment screening.
If you are using the information uncovered in background checks to make hiring decisions, again, the agency (and its processes) must comply with the FCRA. We recommend that you go one step further and use an agency that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS); agencies that are accredited abide by strict guidelines.
Using an agency for employment purposes that doesn't comply with FCRA guidelines can result in a lawsuit for your business and fines.
To determine the best background check services in 2019, we researched and analyzed several companies. Here is an explanation of our selection process.
Locating the Best Services
We began our search with an initial list of more than 150 background check services. Some of these companies we found through online searches, and some were agencies that reached out to us asking to be considered.
Choosing the Best Services
After some initial research, we narrowed our list based on whether the agency had a focus on small businesses and if its features were small business-friendly. We ultimately settled on 15 services to consider as best picks: AccurateNow, AccuSource, B&B Reporting, Inc., Background Screeners of America, BackgroundReport.com, Backgroundchecks.com, Comprehensive Screening Solutions, Corra Group, Employment Record Service, GoodHire, HireRight, InfoCheckUSA, Intelifi, Justifacts and Sterling.
Researching Each Service
Next, we researched each provider, investigating its services, reviewing sample background check reports, reading user comments and interviewing small business owners. We also considered pricing. After narrowing the list further, we contacted each company's customer service department, posing as a small business owner.
Analyzing Each Service
For each review ‒ including this one ‒ we put ourselves in the shoes of small business owners and gathered data that would be readily available to such individuals. We visited company websites, read online reviews and made calls to customer service representatives. If some services had live chat on their website, we tested their live chat support. We analyzed each service based cost, types of criminal searches conducted, ease of use, how easy the reports are to access and understand, how long searches take, Better Business Bureau complaints, National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) accreditation and compliance with the FCRA.
Methodology for Household Employer Services
For household employer services, we used a similar methodology but only for those services that stated they cater to household employers. The finalists we considered included Background Checks for Nannies, Childcare Background Search, eNannySource, GoNannies, HireSafe and NannyVerify.
Our Previous Best Picks
At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best services and products for your small business. We understand that your time is valuable; therefore, we invest dozens of hours into researching and testing the best background check services, so you don't have to.
We strive to keep our reviews up to date. Each year when we update our reviews, we report on new industry changes. In addition, we evaluate any new services.
In addition to our recommendations this year, below are two companies we previously selected as best picks:
Full List of Background Check Services
Here is a condensed list of the top background check providers we recommend. This alphabetical list includes our best picks.
A-Check Global is a background check company that offers great customer care and customizable background screening solutions to its consumers. It provides an employment screening program that integrates with all ATS and HCM systems.
AccurateNow, a division of Accurate Background, provides background check services for small- and medium-sized businesses, and is our best pick for very small businesses. This agency conducts several searches like Social Security number traces, address history checks, criminal history checks, sex offender registry checks, professional license verifications, motor vehicle records checks, and education and employment verification.
AccuSource provides employers with customized employment background checks. It offers several features, including drug and alcohol testing, international background screening and credit checks, among others.
AmericanChecked Inc. offers specialized pre-employment screening for many unique industries, including tribal enterprise, cannabis and commercial gaming.
B&B Reporting, Inc.*
B&B Reporting, Inc. offers a wide range of background check services and is our best pick as the agency with the best background check technology. With more than 2,000 integration options, it can service businesses of any size or complexity. It uses advanced technology to conduct several searches like criminal history, reference checks and employment verification.
Background Screeners of America
Background Screeners of America provides employers with customizable background check services and caters to a variety of small business employment screening needs.
This background check company offers multiple background check plans that vary based client needs. The instant background check is very affordable, costing just under $30.
ClearStar provides employers and hiring managers with a mobile-friendly platform where they can purchase fast, easy-to-use background check services. Their services are available across the globe.
Comprehensive Screening Solution (CSS)
CSS offers a comprehensive set of background check solutions. It offers industry-specific plans and specialty screening like international, social media and drug screening.
Business owners can conduct a variety of background check searches, depending on your business's needs.
Crimcheck allows businesses of all sizes to run background checks on potential employees. It is an NAPBS-accredited agency, offering reliable results.
Employers Choice Screening
Employers Choice Screening provides services that comply with state and federal regulations. It offers pre-employment screening to a variety of industries.
Employment Record Service (ERS)
ERS aids business owners and hiring managers in their search for reputable employees. Their background checks comply with the FCRA.
eNannySource is our pick as the best background check service for household employers. eNannySource's background checks – which include criminal history records, address history, Social Security number traces, driving reports and reference checks – comply with the FCRA.
GoodHire is our pick as the best background check service for small businesses. This background screening service offers FCRA-compliant solutions to organizations of all sizes. Types of services include drug testing, Social Security number traces, address history, criminal records checks, domestic and global terrorist watch list checks, sex offender list checks, professional license verifications, motor vehicle records checks, and education and employer verifications.
HireRight is a great background check agency that offers services to a variety of industries. It provides employers and hiring managers with helpful background check information and online resources.
InfoCheckUSA enables business owners to run a variety of background checks on potential employees.
Intelifi offers background check services to employers looking to screen potential employees. In addition to standard background checks, this agency offers advanced screening services like drug testing.
Justifacts Credential Verification Inc. offers more than 100 background check and pre-employment screening options for businesses of all sizes and from several industries.
OneSource offers a combination of standard and unique background check services, like pre-employment screening, tenant screening, certified contractor screening, volunteer screening and TotalCheck learning.
Pre-employ has several years of experience offering a variety of background check services. In addition to standard screening, it also provides drug screening, and volunteer and student checks.
Private Eyes Screening Group
Private Eyes Screening Group is a platform that offers background checks and pre-employment screening. It also offers additional resources like drug screening and online training.
PSI Background Screening
PSI Background Screening serves the background check needs for businesses in a variety of industries. Businesses can choose from multiple screening services or create their own customized search.
Reliable Background Screening
Reliable Background Screening provides its clients with a variety of background check services. These include employee and volunteer screening, as well as membership and potential tenant screening.
Shield Screening not only has comprehensive background check services and features, it provides users with hands-on customer service. It is an NAPBS-accredited background check company.
Sterling is a well-established background check company. Its self-service division, SterlingNOW, is the agency we recommend for businesses wanting a DIY option for conducting background checks. It offers quick, reliable pre-employment screening reports.
The Cedalius Group
The Cedalius Group, the U.S. division of ISB Global, offers pre-employment screening services for business owners and hiring managers.
The Koleman Group
The Koleman Group offers pre-employment screening services for business owners to help them make the right hiring decisions. Its services have a variety of useful features.
TransUnion Shareable for Hires
TransUnion Shareable for Hires offers FCRA-compliant background check reports. This agency prides itself in its accuracy and level of detail.
TruDiligence offers pre-employment screening, tenant screening and personal background checks. It also offers background checks based on industry type.
SterlingNOW by Sterling
B&B Reporting Inc.
Looking for information on background check services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need: