This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
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 not only verify resumes, identity, and personal backgrounds but also provide credit checks, drug screens, and even healthcare checks for positions that require that degree of review.
To find the top background check companies for small businesses, we evaluated the leading solutions and narrowed our list to nine. Here are our recommendations:
- GoodHire: Best overall background check company for small businesses
- HireRight Express: Best for integration with top HR and payroll software, like ADP and Paychex
- Checkr: Best for recruiters wanting AI and additional hiring tools
- ShareAble for Hires: Best for finance and bookkeeping services wanting financial and credit history of their hires
- SterlingNOW: Best for businesses looking for a service specializing in criminal records
- Trusted Employees: Best for companies needing customized background checks according to their industry or business type
- IntelliCorp: Best for healthcare and nonprofit firms
- AccurateNow: Best for companies with licensed professionals that don’t require drug testing
- AGoodEmployee.com: Best for employers in states with tough labor laws
Best Background Check Companies Compared
Pricing Per Report
Integrations with HR or ATS Apps
A few minutes to 3 days
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GoodHire: Best Overall Employment Background Check Company
We find GoodHire to be the best overall employment background check company for both small and large businesses across multiple industries such as healthcare, construction, and nonprofit. It integrates with many popular software systems and provides unique background checks for industries with specific safety and security requirements like childcare and home health services.
GoodHire scored 4.79 out of 5 in our evaluation and got perfect marks for compliance features, ease of use, popularity, and reporting. It took a hit in pricing because it requires a one-time setup fee of $49.99 for verifying a business—other providers, such as HireRight and Checkr, don’t require these fees.
If you have a small business in the finance, accounting, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, in-home service (like massage therapy), or childcare industry, you will need to run background checks on your employees to be compliant with industry-specific laws. Like most providers in this list, GoodHire does everything within one system, providing you a dashboard view of all background checks you order.
- Employment Screening: The number of days it takes GoodHire to do employment screening varies from one to 10, based on the number of background checks you want to have completed. Drug screens typically take the longest (it offers 4-, 5,- 7-, and 10-panel drug tests) as well as any screening that requires a request for court documents.
- Additional Background Checks: Sensitive industries like financial services and insurance agencies may require additional checks like credit reports, licensing, or international screening. GoodHire can verify that medical professionals—doctors, dentists, nurses—are in good standing with their healthcare sanctions check. (IntelliCorp provides this service too.)
- Forms and Status Tracking: Unlike some companies on this list such as IntelliCorp, GoodHire provides a mobile app. It also includes your compliance documents and downloadable forms like consent and dispute documents. That helps ensure you’re compliant with EEOC, credit, and drug testing laws that require you to obtain advance approval from candidates you want to hire.
- Software Integrations: GoodHire integrates with several HR systems, including recruitment software and applicant tracking systems. It can work with other business apps using an application programming interface (API) if you have HR software beyond the 16 GoodHire interfaces with. Consider HireRight if you want a more extensive list of integrations.
- Customer Support: Email support is available 24/7, and live chat and phone support is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time. GoodHire’s live chat feature is courteous and fast, allowing you to get quick answers to your background check questions directly from the website.
The only thing about GoodHire is that some reviews indicate that drug tests can take up to 10 business days. However, some of the data will come back sooner than others. For example, basic background checks often come back the same day. (ShareAble for Hires and SterlingNOW, however, both offer instant basic background check results.)
HireRight: Best Background Check Company for Strong HR Integration
HireRight wins hands-down when it comes to employment background check companies that interface with existing HR software. HR teams will love that they can pass data from HireRight straight through to their ATSes, HR software, payroll systems, and timekeeping apps. In fact, it even integrates with enterprise systems like SAP, ADP, and Paychex.
Like other providers in this guide, HireRight is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). It also has excellent reporting features and is simple to use. It earned 4.66 out of 5 in our rubric, taking a hit in pricing because it’s not easy to find this information on its website. It also doesn’t have a lot of reviews on popular websites.
HireRight includes all the requisite background screening options a growing business might need and makes it easy for your HR team to screen job candidates. It includes identity checks, I-9 and E-Verify, global screening, driving records, and criminal background screening. It serves a host of industries, from transportation, healthcare, and education to financial services and retail. HireRight has a solution for small and midsize businesses, which needs less than 100 background checks per year called HireRight Express.
- Employment Screening: HireRight’s employment screening offers an expansive set of features like social media background checks and compliance with states that “ban the box” (meaning employers must consider a candidate’s experience, education, and overall fit before considering their background). It includes criminal records, county searches, education, employment history, and references, to name a few.
- Additional Background Checks: HireRight provides over 150 background screening services across 200 countries and territories, making it a great option for HR practitioners in just about any industry and location. In addition, candidates receive a copy of the report, can dispute the accuracy, and even get assistance if they’re not sure what to fill out on the form.
- Forms and Status Tracking: HireRight makes it easy for you as an HR professional to obtain background check information directly from the candidate, either through your existing HR business software or through email. Using the interfaces, you can store the background check information along with the candidate information in your ATS, HR, or payroll software, reducing data security issues and multiple online storage locations.
- Software Integrations: HireRight has the most software integrations available making it the best options for HR professionals already accustomed to using integrated systems like HRIS systems or recruiting software. Greenhouse, Cornerstone, SmartRecruiters, Kronos, and Workday are just a few.
While it offers packages for small businesses, they are capped at fewer than 100 searches per year. So, HireRight pricing may not be feasible if your business needs more than that and is on a tight budget. Small businesses looking for a less expensive option should consider Checkr, which offers more affordable packages, as well as reasonably priced add-ons.
Checkr: Best for Recruiters Wanting AI & Additional Hiring Tools
Checkr uses advanced machine learning and artificial tools to help recruiters find the perfect candidate by performing reliable background checks. It offers screening options to help assess applicants easily while providing continuous monitoring over candidates and employees.
In our evaluation, the provider scored 4.66 out of 5. While it earned perfect marks for popularity, reporting, and compliance features, it scored low on pricing because you have to contact its sales team to get a quote. However, Checkr has the most affordable screening packages in this list, according to data reported by a third party.
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. Here are some things to expect from Checkr:
- Employment Screening: Aside from the chosen package, an employer can also verify an applicant’s employment history with an additional employment verification plan priced between $12–$50, depending on the number of employment years specified (from one to 10 years).
- Additional Background Checks: Other than employment and criminal background checking, Checkr also offers motor vehicle record, education verification, 5- and 10-panel drug screening, and professional or personal reference verification as add-ons priced individually from $5–$45 per request.
- Forms and Status Tracking: Checkr allows users to check the progress of the requested background report by logging in to their accounts. When hiring employees, employers or HR managers can also add tags to reports or download PDFs of the completed reports. Candidates can also easily file a dispute in case they find an error in their report.
- Software Integrations: Checkr allows users to integrate with several HRIS, ATS, and payroll solutions to make HR work simpler. Its partners include Alliance Payroll, Bamboo HR, Breezy HR, EPAY Systems, FreshTeam, and LinkedIn Talent Hub. It doesn’t match the integration options of HireRight however.
While Checkr offers international background searches, its services are only available for US-based companies (unlike HireRight). Also, reviewers mentioned that drug screenings could take more than 10 days without clear explanations behind the reasons.
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 4.60 out of 5. It got perfect marks for pricing, reporting, and compliance features. However, it lacked reviews from users and doesn’t currently support integration with HR software. While it provides different pre-employment screening options, it has limited additional screening services. It’s worth noting that Shareable for Hires and SterlingNow are the only providers in this list that provide instant background checks.
ShareAble for Hires Features
To get the package most suitable for employment, you’ll likely want the Pro package, which verifies prior employment and address information. The pre-employment credit checks include payment history, installment debts, and revolving credit. While these are designed to help landlords screen tenants, they can also help you vet employees who will be managing money in your firm.
- Employment Screening: The employment screening options in the basic package provide identification and criminal background checks compliant with the FCRA. For checks on Social Security, prior employment, and prior addresses, you have to upgrade to the Pro package.
- Additional Background Checks: Other than robust credit reports and criminal records, ShareAble for Hires doesn’t yet offer international background screening, healthcare sanctions checks (required for medical professionals), and drug tests. Most of the other providers offer drug test screens, and GoodHire and IntelliCorp have healthcare sanctions checks.
- Forms and Status Tracking: ShareAble for Hires provides you with printed reports. It will be on you to save and attach those documents to your employee records within your HR software or paper personnel files.
- Software Integrations: 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 to attach it to your HR or payroll system or drop into a secure employee personnel file. If you want integration capabilities, consider HireRight or any of the other providers in our list, all of which provide some integrations.
ShareAble for Hires Drawbacks
ShareAble for Hires lacks an all-in-one background check option if you need, for instance, driving records and drug testing.
SterlingNOW: Best for Small Businesses Looking for a Background Check Company Specializing in Criminal Records
SterlingNOW is a self-service background screening solution under Sterling. It allows small and midsize businesses to verify prospective employees’ identities and helps check if an applicant is trustworthy by uncovering criminal record data. What’s unique about the provider is that it has court researchers who can verify information not recorded online.
The company earned 4.59 out of 5 in our evaluation. It got perfect marks in all criteria except pricing because of the setup fees, ease of use because it lacks a live chat feature, and popularity as it doesn’t have a lot of user reviews.
SterlingNOW checks criminal records of courthouses in locations where an applicant has lived. Many employers need this kind of screening, so SterlingNOW included it in all its plans. According to SterlingNOW, it has access to 85% of the criminal databases all over the US via CourtDirect. For paper-based records, SterlingNOW has court researchers who can find and obtain this data.
- Employment Screening: With an SSN trace, SterlingNOW looks through criminal records archives not only by name but also by Social Security number, checking undisclosed aliases and addresses. All plans include searching for the applicant’s name in the list of sex offenders. Higher-tier plans also check the applicant’s name to see if they’re a local or international terror suspect.
- Additional Background Checks: SterlingNOW also allows businesses to add customized background screening such as education, employment, and driver’s records verification.
- Forms and Status Tracking: With SterlingNOW, both employers and candidates can easily track the status of a background check online. If applicants have questions about their background check, they can either call or email SterlingNOW directly. Employers can also call or email the company, should they encounter any problems.
- Software Integrations: Like most providers in this guide, SterlingNOW allows integration with ATS and HR apps such as SmartRecruiters, Paycor, Greenhouse, Bullhorn, Jobvite, and LinkedIn Talent Hub.
The company doesn’t perform credit checks, drug testing, or fingerprinting. However, it offers these services in the broader Sterling business (for information on cost, talk to a SterlingNOW representative). If you want those services as part of your chosen package, most of the other providers on our list offer that; ShareAble for Hires is particularly strong in credit checks.
Trusted Employees: Best for Companies Needing Customized Background Checks According to Industry or Business Type
Trusted Employees is a pre-employment screening platform that’s been around for the last 20 years. What’s different with this company is that users can get customized services according to their industry, business type, or the position they’re hiring for using its premade packages. For example, customers can choose retail screening packages or entry-level, manager, and director roles or healthcare packages for volunteer, staff, and director levels.
It received perfect marks for pricing, reporting, background check functionalities, and compliance features, earning a total score of 4.55 out of 5. It got the lowest score on popularity as it lacked reviews from third-party websites.
Trusted Employees Features
Trusted Employees provides different solutions to help businesses hire the right talent. It aims to create solutions suitable for different industries in the US and Canada and offers accurate and FCRA-compliant reports.
- Employment Screening: You get comprehensive background screening checks such as credit background checking, criminal records history, education verification, employment verification, identity and address, and reference verification.
- Additional Background Checks: Aside from pre-employment screening, it has specialty screening services such as credential and licensing, driving and motor vehicle, drug screening, and Form I-9 verification.
- Forms and Status Tracking: Trusted Employees reports are all FCRA-compliant, which means that applicants can view a copy of their background report instantly online or request to get it by mail. In case of inaccurate information reflected in a report, applicants can easily file a dispute online. Employers can also view the status of their requested background checks.
- Software Integrations: As of this writing, Trusted Employees integrates only with Workable but has flexible APIs to help integrate with your software of choice. The other providers (except ShareAble for Hires) offer more robust integrations.
Trusted Employees Drawbacks
As mentioned, Trusted Employees lacks integration with ATS and HR software. However, if you plan to integrate the platform with your recruiting software, you can contact the company to provide an API key.
IntelliCorp: Best Background Check Company for Healthcare & Nonprofits
IntelliCorp provides employment verifications, criminal background checks, credit checks, driving record reviews, and drug screening. Its award-winning service checks medical licensing, ensuring that candidates never engaged in medical fraud or abuse. In fact, it compares against the National Practitioner’s Data Bank (DPDB) to ensure there are no sanctions from Medicare or Medicaid. IntelliCorp tailors its packages to the pre-employment process of businesses in the nonprofit and medical industries.
It earned perfect marks for reporting and compliance features. It also scored high for ease of use, background check functionalities, and popularity. However, its lowest score is on pricing since it doesn’t provide information on its website. Also, it has the most expensive setup fee of $250 (tied with SterlingNow; the other providers have much cheaper or no setup fees). Overall, IntelliCorp got 4.41 out of 5 in our rubric.
IntelliCorp provides all the same basic features as GoodHire, including civil, credit, criminal, and employment background checks. In fact, it’ll assist you with I-9 forms and E-Verify and confirm a worker or volunteer’s Social Security number and address—even if they’re outside the US. That’s helpful if you work with volunteers and don’t have HR or payroll software to do that for you.
- Employment Screening: To get employment screening features, you’ll have to upgrade to IntelliCorp’s mid-tier plan. IntelliCorp provides some of the forms in Spanish, which is helpful in medical and home service industries as they often employ bilingual workers.
- Additional Background Checks: It’s the additional background checks and add-on features that may make IntelliCorp a better option for you if you’re primarily verifying nonprofit and healthcare workers in sensitive industries like childcare, senior services, or medical fieldwork like disaster recovery. Services include multicounty, international screening, healthcare sanctions, credit checks, and drug tests.
- Forms and Status Tracking: IntelliCorp provides acknowledgment and disclosure forms for federal and state regulatory agencies. It also includes a European Union (EU) Acknowledgment if you need to employ union workers outside the US. However, it lacks a nifty dashboard and mobile app like GoodHire, requiring you to download and email forms to your prospective employees and volunteers.
- Software Integrations: IntelliCorp has a handful of integrations to organizations like VolunteerMatters and job boards like SmartRecruiters. Otherwise, it lacks the common HR and applicant tracking integrations that GoodHire and HireRight provide. Its only prebuilt integrations to these systems are for enterprises using software like HRNX and iCIMS.
- Customer Service: IntelliCorp provides customer service via phone and email. Online support includes a blog, FAQs, online forms, training, and videos.
It lacks a mobile app and an organized interface like GoodHire and provides only a handful of software integrations. It also doesn’t have transparent pricing, making it tough to decide whether it’s an affordable option for your business without having to first sign up and subject yourself to a sales call and demo.
AccurateNow: Best for Companies with Licensed Professionals That Don’t Require Drug Testing
Accurate Now is great for professional firms. That’s because it provides popular add-on background checks like motor vehicle records (for your field sales team), professional license verification for your certified staff, and low-cost employment and education verification options. Therefore, you can tailor your screening to match the job role of the new hire.
Earning an overall score of 4.29 out of 5, AccurateNow has a straightforward platform that provides FCRA-compliant reports. It’s not as popular as GoodHire or Checkr, and it took a hit in the popularity criterion. Unlike other providers in this list, which allow applicants to quickly view the status of their background reports, applicants have to contact AccurateNow.
AccurateNow makes background checks easy for your hiring team by filling in a form with candidate information. And once the check is complete, it will receive a report. Employers can also view status updates when each check is done.
- Employment Screening: AccurateNow provides the same employment background checks you find in GoodHire, HireRight, and most other background check companies. In fact, the only reason it wasn’t listed higher is that it doesn’t provide a search of health check sanctions (like GoodHire and IntelliCorp do) and there are no prebuilt interfaces to store resulting candidate background data.
- Additional Background Checks: In addition to the standard service AccurateNow provides as an employment background check company, you’ll find it offers professional license verification, a motor vehicle report, and a search of U.S. District Court records. Each add-on costs only $9.95 per report—allowing you to purchase a lower-tier package and buy additional ad hoc reports.
- Forms and Status Tracking: To obtain forms like a pre-adverse or adverse action letter, you need to purchase the $5 add-on and combine it with an existing report package.
- Software Integrations: AccurateNow does interface with your recruitment or applicant tracking software. To save a report, you’ll need to attach it electronically to a secure employee data file or place a physical copy in the applicants’ hiring folder. Most of the other providers on our list provide more extensive integrations.
AccurateNow offers fewer background check options than more complete background check companies like GoodHire and HireRight. In addition, it lacks healthcare-industry checks and prebuilt integrations—although it does provide an API if you want to build your own using its developer portal.
AGoodEmployee.com: Best Background Services for Heavily Regulated States
Although AGoodEmployee.com offers fewer types of background checks than IntelliCorp or GoodHire at comparable prices, it caters to employee background checks that must be compliant with tougher laws in states like California, New York, and Massachusetts. These states provide unique employee protections such as for casual drug users and rehabilitated criminals. It’s a good option in states where background checks can get you in trouble if they’re not done right.
With an overall rating of 4.14 out of 5, AGoodEmployee.com got its lowest mark for popularity and took a hit in ease of use because of its more complicated interface. It obtained perfect scores for pricing, reporting, and compliance features.
This employee background check company has credit checks and drug screens along with downloadable forms and compliant testing processes. Unlike IntelliCorp and GoodHire, however, there are no screening tools for international employers and no way to check for healthcare sanctions.
- Employment Screening: AGoodEmployee.com includes Telecheck check verification, which ensures that the person you’re hiring doesn’t have a history of writing bad checks. (That’s a feature more helpful to landlords.) Otherwise, it verifies the standard background information such as Social Security number and address history.
- Additional Background Checks: Drug testing is available, but it costs extra. You don’t have the option for multiple kinds of drug tests like you do with GoodHire. If you want to check federal court records or personal references, that requires you to upgrade to a plan that’s nearly $200 per month.
- Forms and Status Tracking: AGoodEmployee.com provides all the forms you might need—from candidate consent forms to a summary of rights under the FCRA. However, while the forms are free, you’ll need to print them and have candidates sign them manually.
- Software Integrations: AGoodEmployee.com can integrate with your ATS; however, this requires a consultation with its sales team and likely costs extra to build and test the interface. We found no standard integrations available, and while the reports are printer-friendly, we didn’t uncover any data export options. Check HireRight or several of the other providers for stronger integration options.
AGoodEmployee.com is missing an affordable drug testing option, an intuitive dashboard, and an app. It’s structured like an old-fashioned menu-driven database. Further, most small businesses want to save time by having their data integrate with existing business software. With AGoodEmployee.com, you’ll likely have to do some duplicate data entry for candidates.
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.
20% 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. For this criterion, Shareable for Hires, Trusted Employees, and AGoodEmployee.com received perfect marks.
20% of Overall Score
In our evaluation, we looked at providers with robust employee screening options and fast turnaround times that offer extra niche background check services such as motor vehicle records, drug screening, credit checks, or licensure checks. Extra points were also given to providers with communication tools for both applicants and employers. Only SterlingNOW and Trusted Employees got perfect marks.
20% of Overall Score
FCRA-compliance means a provider must perform background checks that are transparent, accurate, and fair to applicants. This means that a provider should inform and ask applicants for consent before a background check. Also, if there are inaccuracies in a report, the provider should allow candidates to dispute this information. All the providers in this guide are FCRA-compliant.
20% of Overall Score
For this criterion, we gave points for 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, and have live support via chat and phone. GoodHire, HireRight, and AccurateNow scored perfect for ease of use.
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. For this criterion, only GoodHire and Checkr got perfect scores.
10% of Overall Score
In our evaluation, we gave points to providers that allow both employers and candidates to access their background check reports online. Only AccurateNow and AGoodEmployee.com did not get perfect scores because applicants have to first contact these companies to access their reports.
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 ensuring compliance to the laws.