Employment background check companies ensure the person you’re hiring is who they say they are and safe to hire. The best background check companies verify resumes, identity, and personal backgrounds and provide credit checks, drug screens, and even healthcare checks for positions that require that degree of review.
To find the top background screening companies for small businesses, we evaluated 13 leading solutions and narrowed our list to four. Here are our recommendations:
- Checkr: Best overall, especially for recruiters wanting AI and additional hiring tools
- Trusted Employees: Best for industry-specific background checks
- ShareAble for Hires: Best for finance and bookkeeping services wanting financial and credit history of their hires
- Backgroundchecks.com: Best for small companies needing customizable screening packages
Best Background Check Companies Compared
All the providers on our list adhere to the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). They also offer solutions for tracking background check orders and viewing reports online. Below are some of the features.
Integration with HR or ATS Tools
$29.99–$79.99 per check
For 300+ checks per year**
3–7 business days
$29.95–$69.95 per check
1–3 business days
A few minutes to 3 business days
For 50+ checks per year**
A few minutes to 3 business days
*Note that some background checks may take longer depending on the complexity of the report. To learn more about report timelines, contact the provider or visit the company’s website.
**For volume discounts, contact the provider for a quote.
***Charges a one-time registration fee to most clients. If a fee applies, this will appear in your online shopping cart during checkout.
Need help in creating a background check policy? Read our guide and download our customizable background check policy template.
Checkr: Best Overall for Recruiters Wanting AI & Additional Hiring Tools
Checkr offers services tailored to employers and small businesses needing background checks. Its screenings focus on residence and employment history, identity verification, and criminal and driving records. With its advanced machine learning and AI tools, recruiters can find qualified candidates through reliable background checks. Its screening options are designed to help assess applicants easily while providing continuous monitoring of candidates and employees.
Scoring 4.79 out of 5 in our evaluation, this provider earned perfect marks for pricing, popularity, and reporting. Its solid compliance features, which include AI and machine learning tools to help strengthen your hiring and screening processes, also contributed to its high overall scores. However, its standard turnaround time of 3–7 business days (longer than the other providers on our list) and the lack of phone support cost it some points.
Did You Know?
Checkr acquired GoodHire in April 2022. GoodHire, which previously topped our list of best background check services for small businesses, will soon be incorporated into Checkr’s portfolio. The company also plans to move all GoodHire clients to its platform. If you’re a GoodHire customer, Checkr will notify you via email when it’s time to transition your account.
For companies that run under 300 background checks per year, Checkr offers three plans: Basic+, Essential, and Professional. Note that apart from the cost of each report, you may have to pay additional third-party fees, such as pass-through fees that some counties and states charge to retrieve records.
- Basic+: Starts at $29.99 per check
- Social Security number (SSN) trace, sex offender registry search, national criminal search, and global watchlist records
- Essential: Starts at $54.99 per check
- Basic+, plus unlimited county criminal search
- Professional: Starts at $79.99 per check
- Standard, plus education verification (highest level) and employment verification (candidate’s current employment)
If you run more than 300 checks annually, contact the provider for volume discount pricing.
Checkr offers specialized screenings as paid add-ons. Here are some of its services.
- Continuous criminal record search (for employees): $1.70 per check
- Continuous MVR checks (for employees): $2.50 per check
- Credit report: $8 per check
- Motor Vehicle Report (MVR): $9.50 per check
- Federal criminal records search: $10 per check
- Professional license verification: $12 per check
- International background check: Starts at $32 per check
- Onsite drug testing: Starts at $37 per check
- Lab-based drug testing: Starts at $60 per check
When to Use Something Else
While Checkr offers a wide range of screening services, the turnaround isn’t as fast as the other background checking companies in this guide. For fast results of basic criminal checks, consider Backgroundchecks.com or ShareAble for Hires—these providers attest that you can get criminal reports instantly online.
Trusted Employees: Best for Industry-specific Background Checks
Trusted Employees is a pre-employment screening platform that’s been around for the last 20 years. What’s great about this company is its flexible background check services, which cater to businesses of all sizes and in several industries, like retail, technology, education, staffing, financial services, healthcare, insurance, transportation, and manufacturing. It can even handle the screening requirements of nonprofits and volunteer organizations. None of the pre-employment background check companies on our list cover such a wide array of industries.
In our evaluation, this provider received perfect marks for pricing, reporting, background check functionalities, and compliance features, earning a total score of 4.33 out of 5. It got the lowest score on popularity, as it lacked reviews from third-party websites. While its online solutions are user-friendly, it also didn’t get a high score in ease of use because, unlike Checkr, it doesn’t offer an easy way to place bulk screening orders.
For businesses, Trusted Employees offers three plans: Basic, Advanced, and Comprehensive. Note that apart from the cost of each report, you may have to pay additional third-party fees, such as pass-through fees that some counties and states charge to retrieve records.
- Basic: Starts at $29.95 per check
- Multi-state criminal search, global terrorist and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) search, sex offender registry search, and identity verification with known aliases, SSN, and 10–15 years address history checks
- Advanced: Starts at $49.95 per check
- Basic, plus most wanted search, two county criminal checks, and two state federal court checks
- Comprehensive: Starts at $69.95 per check
- Advanced, plus seven-year county criminal and state federal searches
If you require more than 50 screenings a year, contact Trusted Employees for a custom package.
Individuals (like solopreneurs) wanting to run background checks for themselves can create a custom package. For $34.95, you can order a background report that includes credit, identity, address, and criminal checks. Employment and education verifications are also available as paid add-ons, costing $19.95 and $24.95 per check, respectively.
You can include additional checks to your background screening package. Here are some of the options:
- Health care sanction: $9 per check
- Financial sanction: $9 per check
- Credit report: $12 per check
- Education verification: $14.95 per check
- Employment verification: $14.95 per check
- Driving record: $19.95 per check
- Drug test (rapid 5-panel): $40 per check
Trusted Employees also charges a service fee for the use of its secure “ApplyNow” tool. For $2 per applicant, your candidates can input the basic information needed to run their background checks. The “ApplyNow” solution even comes with an electronic signature tool, enabling your candidates to digitally sign the required background check consent form.
When to Use Something Else
Trusted Employees lacks built-in integration with ATS and HR software. If you plan to integrate the platform with your recruiting software, you have to contact the company to provide an API key. We recommend Checkr if you’re looking for background check organizations with solid integration options. And, in case you need pre-employment screening services that extend outside of the US, Checkr is also a good choice, as it offers international background checks.
ShareAble for Hires: Best Background Check Company for Financial Firms
ShareAble for Hires offers all the basic candidate background, identity, resume verification, and employment screening, as well as credit checks. It’s part of the TransUnion system, so it provides these services fast and entirely online. It’s great at ensuring your finance and accounting new hires aren’t arriving with burdensome financial debt and credit issues.
The provider earned a total score of 4.19 out of 5, with perfect marks in pricing and reporting. While it has different pre-employment screening options, it lacks the specialty checks (like driver records and drug testing) offered by the other background screening companies in this guide. It also lost points because it doesn’t support integration with HR software, and it has very few up-to-date user reviews (as of this writing). However, it’s worth noting that Shareable for Hires and Backgroundchecks.com are the only providers in this list that offer instant background checks. This is great for those with urgent criminal record screening requirements.
Plans & Pricing
ShareAble for Hires offers three background check packages.
- Basic: $25
- Federal watch lists, national sex offender registry check, national most wanted check, FCRA and state filters, Transunion instant match, and instant state and county check
- Plus: $40
- Basic, plus fraud alerts check, name and SSN match report, and deceased person’s SSN check
- Pro: $60
- Plus plan, with reported prior employment, current and previous addresses, and detailed credit reports
When to Use Something Else
ShareAble for Hires’ options don’t include drug testing and screenings for driver records, licenses, and educational backgrounds. Other background check companies on our list will allow you to add specialty tests to your screening orders. Plus, due to the online process and speed of the background checks, ShareAble for Hires doesn’t provide any software integrations. The workaround is to save a printed (or PDF) copy of the report and then attach it to your HR or payroll system, or add it to a secure employee personnel file. If you want integration capabilities, we recommend Checkr (for built-in integrations) or Trusted Employees (for an API).
Backgroundchecks.com: Best for Small Companies That Want Custom Screening Packages
Most companies that do background checks typically offer standard pre-employee screening packages with specialized check services you can add to it. With Backgroundchecks.com, you can combine its screening options to create your own package with the searches, checks, and verifications you need. Similar to Trusted Employees, it caters to businesses in different industries (although, the selection isn’t as wide), such as staffing, construction, manufacturing, and retail, including volunteer organizations.
It offers a self-service portal where candidates can input basic information needed for background checks, as well as track and view screening reports. Online documents (such as authorization and disclosure forms) are available, including pre-adverse and adverse action tools. You also have a wide range of background checks to choose from—from standard SSN verifications to drug screenings and credit checks.
All of these features contributed to Backgroundchecks.com scoring 4.11 out of 5 in our evaluation. It would have ranked higher on our list if it had bulk order capabilities for multiple screening requirements, offered a more reasonably-priced plan (with starter pricing at $30 or less per report), and didn’t charge setup/registration fees.
Backgroundchecks.com has three screening packages, but it also lets you create your own plan (custom-priced). Note that you may have to pay additional third-party fees, such as pass-through fees that some counties and states charge to retrieve records.
- Instant Criminal+: $33.15
- Criminal record, sex offender registry, and SSN validation
- Instant Criminal+ Local County: $49.95
- Instant Criminal+, plus one county level search
- Instant Criminal+ All Counties: $69.95
- Instant Criminal+, plus multiple county level search
Note that in most cases, Backgroundchecks.com charges a one-time registration fee ($19.95, based on a quote we received). If a fee applies, new clients will see it in their online shopping cart after having placed their first order through its website.
If you run more than 50 checks in a year, Backgroundchecks.com offers volume discounts. Contact the provider to request a quote.
Backgroundchecks.com offers a variety of specialized screening services, such as:
- Credit report: $7.50 per check
- Driving record: $7.50 per check
- Employment, reference, and education verification: $13.25 each per check
- Bankruptcy report: $16 per check
- Federal civil court search: $16 per check
- Professional license and certification verification: $21.45 per check
- County civil court history search: $23.45 per check
- Drug screening: $36.50 per check
When to Use Something Else
While Backgroundchecks.com offers instant criminal reports, its basic screening package (costing $33.15) isn’t as affordable as ShareAble for Hires, which only charges $25 for its starter plan. Its platform also doesn’t have Checkr’s AI and machine learning tools to help make tracking and understanding pre-employment screening reports easier for employers and recruiters.
To find the right background check company, it’s important to take a look at several factors—from pricing to offered services. Here are some of the things you should know before selecting a company to help you screen candidates:
- Know your employment screening needs: Businesses have different employment screening needs, depending on which industry it belongs to. Finding a company that can handle the company’s background check requirements can help mitigate hiring risks and potential legal issues. For example, finance-related companies may require credit history checks and professional license verifications for their new hires, while retail businesses may need employee drug tests and criminal history searches.
- FCRA compliance: Be sure to look for background screening companies that have FCRA-compliant databases. Note that you can be subject to potential lawsuits in case you make a hiring decision based on candidate data that isn’t FCRA compliant.
- Pricing: Apart from transparent and affordable pricing, you should consider the number of background checks you need. A pay-as-you-go package is great for those that don’t hire often, while a fixed monthly plan is ideal for companies that need to run around 50 checks a year. Having access to volume discounts is also optimal, as it can help you negotiate for better rates based on your background check orders.
- Report submission timelines: Those requiring fast turnaround times will benefit from having reports available to them either instantly or within 1–3 days.
- Online tools: Consider whether or not you want an entirely online experience, from placing and tracking pre-employment screening orders to candidates digitally signing off required authorization forms for conducting background checks. Having access to compliance solutions that can handle pre-adverse and adverse action notices is also helpful. Some background check providers even have AI tools to assist you in understanding reports with confusing legal jargon.
- Check user reviews: When looking for the best background check for employers, it’s important to read the feedback that users post on online review sites. These will help you determine the quality of service that providers offer, including whether there are trends of report submission delays and other complaints.
Methodology: How We Evaluated Employee Background Check Companies
Background checking should be a part of onboarding plans (if background checking is a standard practice) and employment termination (if there is a concern of substance use). Assuming that a small business would prefer to work with one employee background check company than several, we prioritized employment background check companies that include most of the services an employer would need.
The ones we chose are affordable and allow you to choose either packages of background checks or one type of test, like a pre-employment drug screen. Click through the tabs below for a more detailed breakdown of our evaluation criteria.
15% of Overall Score
We looked at pricing and gave higher points for providers with plans starting at less than $30 per search and those with transparent pricing. Providers with no setup or membership fees also score higher in our evaluation.
25% of Overall Score
In our evaluation, we looked at providers with fast turnaround times, robust employee screening options, and niche background check services (such as motor vehicle records, drug screening, credit checks, and licensure checks). Extra points were also given to providers with communication tools for both applicants and employers.
20% of Overall Score
FCRA compliance means a provider must perform background checks that are transparent, accurate, and fair to applicants. This means getting the applicants’ consent before the screening tests, allowing candidates to dispute inaccuracies in reports, and providing tools for handling pre-adverse and adverse action notices.
15% of Overall Score
For this criterion, we gave points to providers that allow easy tracking of a background check status for both applicants and employers. To get a perfect score in this criterion, a platform should be easy to use and mobile-friendly, allow integration with HR software, offer bulk ordering tools, and have live support via chat and phone.
10% of Overall Score
We gave higher points for companies that have more than 100 user reviews, without complaints of report inaccuracies, and more than 4.5 out of 5 scores on review sites (like G2 and Capterra).
15% of Overall Score
In our evaluation, we gave points to providers that offer FCRA-compliant reports and allow both employers and candidates to access their background check reports online.
Background check companies provide assurance that the people you’re hiring don’t have red flags that could affect your business. The best employment background check companies provide an all-in-one background screening service with online report storage and a dashboard that can share data with your other HR software, making your overall employee hiring experience easier and more consistent, while also ensuring compliance to the law.