Employers may conduct background checks as part of their hiring process to make informed decisions, reduce risk, and guard against liability claims. Learn more about the different types of background checks and the best background check sites that can help you conduct the screenings you need.
What are different types of background checks?
There are two general types of background checks: personal background checks and employment background checks.
Personal background checks: Individuals may use a consumer background check service to learn more about a person—a potential roommate or babysitter; someone you’re dating; or to find a long-lost classmate. You can also conduct a background check on yourself to prepare for what employers may see.
Background check organizations that offer personal background checks are sometimes called “people search” sites. They typically provide information such as:
- Contact information
- Public records (such as marriage, divorce, property ownership or civil judgments)
- Criminal records
- Reverse phone number lookup
Because personal background check organizations typically do not follow the rules of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), information uncovered in these checks can’t be used when making employment decisions.
Employment background checks: Employers often conduct employment background checks on job applicants and employees to uncover information they may consider in hiring decisions. Depending on the position involved, employment background screening may include:
- Criminal background checks
- Driving records (MVR) checks
- Employment verification
- Education verification
- Credit checks
Contacting multiple public and private sources to collect information about a candidate can be time-consuming and costly for employers, so many organizations choose to partner with pre-employment background check companies to conduct their background checks. Using an FCRA-compliant background check organization can save time while helping to ensure that your background screenings remain compliant with all applicable laws.
What are the most popular background check sites?
The most popular personal background check websites include PeopleFinders, Intelius, and Instant Checkmate. Positive user reviews, easy-to-use interfaces, the ability to search billions of public records, and practical features such as reverse phone number and address lookup all help these sites earn a spot among the best background check services for people searches.
Looking for an FCRA-compliant employment background screening site? Checkr, GoodHire, and Accurate are among the sites offering the best background checks for employers. An array of screening options, customizable accounts, easy-to-use interfaces, integration with a range of applicant tracking systems (ATS), and fast turnaround times have made these background screening companies popular with employers.
Top background screening companies
A powerful API, fast searches and robust compliance tools make Checkr the best background check for employers. Checkr offers criminal, civil, and MVR checks; drug and health screenings, education and employment verification and international background checks for over 200 countries. Background screening packages are available for a range of industries, including retail, hospitality, technology, food service and gig employers; there are also packages for small businesses and volume discounts for enterprise employers. Prices range from $29.99 to $79.99 per check; employers who run more than 300 background checks annually can contact Checkr for a quote.*
Checkr’s AI-driven technology combines advanced machine learning with human review to deliver the speed and accuracy that make it one of the best background check services. To support fair hiring, only legally reportable records are shown, while built-in tools and automated workflows help ensure compliance. Once candidates are hired, Continuous Crim and Continuous MVR monitoring can alert you to reportable changes to an employee’s criminal record or driving record (MVR). A scalable open API offers easy integration with your existing HRIS systems to streamline hiring.
Candidates will also appreciate the ease of Checkr’s mobile-friendly candidate portal, which provides visibility into their report status and features built-in error detection to keep the screening process moving forward.
- Key features: Built-in compliance tools, continuous monitoring, robust open API
One of the best background check sites, GoodHire is known for its customizability, simplified compliance, and wide array of offerings. Employers can choose from over 100 screenings, including employment, education and identity verification; MVR checks, criminal background checks, credit checks, drug screening, civil court checks, healthcare sanctions checks, and international background checks.
Large enterprises can easily manage background checks across multiple locations, divisions, or departments, while small businesses will appreciate that GoodHire has no monthly minimum requirement. Users can create custom check bundles or choose from pre-built packages, including industry-specific options. Pre-built package prices range from $29.99 to $79.99 per check; employers who need 10 or more checks per year can get a custom quote for volume discounts.*
Automated workflows, including integrated adverse action workflows, and integration with popular applicant tracking solutions help make hiring more efficient. GoodHire’s easy-to-use and mobile-optimized dashboard and applicant portal deliver a user-friendly experience for employers and candidates alike. Customer service is also standout, with US-based, FCRA-certified compliance experts available to guide employers and candidates at every step of the screening process.
- Key features: Easy FCRA-compliance, customizability, customer service
With 25 years in business, Accurate offers a range of employment background check services including criminal, civil, MVR, and global screenings. Select from packages designed for enterprises, small businesses or a variety of industries, or let Accurate design a package tailored to your business. Built-in compliance controls and easy configurability to your needs make this one of the best background check software solutions for employers.
Accurate takes a hands-on approach to customer service with support available via phone and LiveChat for customers and candidates. Job applicants will appreciate the user-friendly, mobile-optimized candidate portal. Employers also benefit from technology that delivers instant access to records in over 2,500 federal, state, and local courthouses.
- Key features: Customizability, customer support, easy high-volume ordering
In business since 1975, Sterling offers a full complement of background screening services including criminal background checks, global checks, MVR checks, credit checks, civil court records checks, and more. The company also conducts drug screenings and offers a wide range of industry-specific solutions, including packages designed for entertainment, franchising, media, and government organizations. For small businesses, the SterlingNOW solution offers three screening packages as well as the ability to customize background checks.
Sterling’s in-house compliance team monitors state, local, and federal laws to keep employers current on legal and regulatory changes, while advanced screening technology uses appropriate content filters to show only permissible information. Technology-enabled compliance tools simplify adverse action and individualized assessment to support fair hiring.
- Key features: Wide range of background check services; specialized industry solutions
First Advantage provides background checks for a variety of specific industries, including retail, healthcare, staffing, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and oil and gas. First Advantage also provides solutions for specific business sizes, from small and mid-market to enterprises and global businesses. A mobile-friendly candidate experience and integrations with ATS and HCM software can help accelerate the background screening process. After hiring, First Advantage can provide ongoing criminal records monitoring.
- Key features: Compliance management and documentation; industry-specific packages
With over 30 years of experience in the background check industry, HireRight was among the earliest internet-based background screening providers. The company offers over 100 background screening services in more than 200 countries and territories. HireRight provides a variety of industry-specific packages, as well as add-on products employers can use to customize their background checks. Small businesses can purchase single criminal background checks, while companies that conduct over 100 background checks per year can purchase custom packages and benefit from integrations with leading ATS technology.
HireRight offers a suite of background check services, including monitoring employees for criminal charges. However, many features—such as the mobile-friendly Applicant Center and tools to streamline ban-the-box compliance, adjudication, and adverse action—are add-ons that cost extra.
- Key features: Comprehensive range of background checks, robust ATS integrations for larger customers
One of Canada’s fastest-growing startups, Certn offers criminal background checks (including US and Royal Canadian Mounted Police records), credit checks, employment and education verification, international background checks, and identity verification. Professional reference checks, conducted by phone or digital questionnaire, ask former employers customizable questions about a candidate and collect the answers. You can select screening packages designed for various industries or choose from an a la carte menu to customize your background checks. You’ll pay only for what you need; however, a la carte prices can add up quickly.
Small businesses needing fewer than 50 background checks per year can use Certn Lime to order self-service, pay-as-you-go background checks without setup or subscription fees. Candidates will appreciate the site’s user-friendly experience. Employers benefit from an intuitive process, integration with popular ATS solutions, an open API, and the support of in-house compliance teams.
- Key features: Ease of use, pay-as-you-go option, a la carte background checks
SentryLink offers limited background check services for employers, offering national criminal background checks, Social Security number validation, and MVR checks. There’s also an option for applicants to pay for and run their own national criminal background checks SentryLink has a simple pricing structure for criminal background checks and MVR checks. US-based customer service staff are available by phone or email.
SentryLink lacks the automation features most other background check services use to streamline screenings. For example, they provide sample background check authorization and other forms, but employers must have a lawyer review these documents to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
- Key features: Simple pricing structure, candidate self-pay option
Get a background check with Checkr
Using a third-party background check service provider offers many benefits for employers. Experienced background check services can help employers maintain compliance with complex laws and regulations, streamline the background check process for more efficient hiring, and provide an improved candidate experience, enhancing your business’s reputation.
With so many pre-employment background check companies to choose from, it’s important to spend time selecting the right solution for your organization’s needs. Checkr offers the fastest, fairest background checks for businesses of all sizes. Our AI-powered platform boosts the speed and accuracy of every background check, while promoting fair and compliant practices to easily scale your business with confident hiring. Get started today.
*Website images and pricing mentioned in this article are accurate as of date of publication.
The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.
About the author
Sara Korolevich serves as checkr.com’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.
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