Best Background Check Services for Small Business 2019
A background check service for small business tells you everything you need to know about an applicant before you hire them. We researched, tested, and compared several background check services for employers so that you can choose the best one for your business.
Top 3 Background Check Services for Small Businesses
|Finance-based, child care, or other businesses that need to run thorough background checks|
+ Drug testing option offered
+ Reasonably priced
- Longer wait times on results
|Those who need background check results quickly|
+ Easy to use
+ Several add-ons available
- Can be expensive
|Restaurants, salons, and accounting firms that need to verify professional licenses|
+ Affordable basic services
+ Add-on license verification fairly priced
- Basic background check is lacking
What Is the Right Background Check Service for You?
How We Chose the Best Background Check Services
The best background check services for small businesses should offer you the information you need on potential employees, which is at the very least identity confirmation and a criminal background check. A basic search should be affordable and quick, and the higher-priced options dig deeper into one’s background, which is necessary for some businesses, especially those in financial and child care industries. The add-ons are important too as you may require drug screenings, professional license verifications, and driving records.
Here’s a look at all the factors we considered when choosing the best:
- Turnaround time
- Customer service
We chose GoodHire as the best background check service overall. Not only does it offer a fairly-priced basic service, but its add-ons are also affordable. Any small business could make good use of GoodHire for screening applicants because you can customize precisely what information you need. In addition to drug screenings, GoodHire also lets you run health care sanctions searches, international background checks, and education, employer, and professional license verifications. Plus, most of the results will get back to you in one to three days.
What Are Employment Background Check Services?
An employment background check service allows a business to conduct a variety of checks on public information about a specific person for the purpose of determining whether they’d be a good hire. You can dig deep into one’s criminal past, credit and employment history, drug tests, and you can verify certificates and educational degrees. A small business employer likely won’t need a robust background check system, so choosing a background check service that lets you pay for each check on an as-needed basis is probably the best route. Otherwise, you can pay for bulk checks in some cases.
You’ll have to follow some strict procedures before running any background checks on potential hires, however. There are federal, state, county, and municipal laws that differ, so you must make sure you’re following them precisely before running anything on any applicant.
What Is the FCRA?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the federal regulation of consumers’ information that’s found in the records offered by consumer reporting agencies, such as background check services. It’s meant to protect consumers from inaccuracies and to keep certain information private. This regulation makes it necessary for an employer to get the permission of the applicant to run a check to keep it legal. You also must follow the steps the FCRA outlines regarding notifying an applicant about an adverse hiring decision.
Who Can Request a Background Check?
It’s easy to run a background check on someone as there are plenty of services available online. So, anyone with about $10 and a name can run a background check on someone. However, not all of these services are specifically made to be employment background checks, so you’ll need to stick to reputable background check services like the ones we’ve listed, and make sure you do everything legally.
Background Check Pricing: What to Expect to Pay
The top three background check services for small businesses are priced similarly for their basic background checks, but the pricing shifts as you get into the higher-priced plans and add-ons. Here’s a look at what you can expect to pay for each plan and the cost of add-ons.
Background Check Services Pricing Table
Can I Get a Free Background Check?
A free background check is mostly possible, but it will require you to do a lot of the legwork, which means it will cost you in time and travel. Information available in background checks typically are part of the public record but, in many cases, you’ll have to obtain that information through court records like criminal history and bankruptcies. You can submit a request of records without paying a fee but, in some cases, this must be done in person.
Employment background checks are affordable, but the cost is there for convenience. The background check service does the running around or research for you and, in some cases, they send a person to file requests.
What Each Background Check Service Plan Includes
To help you decide which background check plan is right for your hiring needs, you should consider what the features are in each one. The chart below shows you what you can expect from most background check services for employers, but the options may vary by service. You can expect results for all the searches in about one to three business days, but the turnaround may take longer if requests take more time than anticipated.
|National Criminal Search|
|Sex Offender List Search|
|Terrorist Watch Searches|
|Current County Criminal Search|
|Education Verification (1)|
|Employment Verification (1)|
What’s Included in a Background Check Report?
Each background check report will be different based on the information you’ve requested and whether there’s anything to report. Here’s what you can expect to see in a full employer background check:
- Social Security number trace, including full names and aliases
- Address history
- Contact information
- County records, like marriage and divorce
- Criminal history
- Financial history, like liens and bankruptcies
- Driving records
- Employment verification
- Education verification, like degrees and certificates
Tips for Choosing a Background Check Service
Picking the best background check service comes down to cost, what you need to know, and whether the service is appropriate for you to use for employment purposes. You’re also going to want to know the wait times for your own planning and give applicants an idea of how long they’ll need to wait before hearing back from you.
Background checks can be surprisingly affordable, but the cost depends on what you need to know. The farther back you go in someone’s timeline of criminal history, for example, the more it’s going to cost you. Part of the reason is that a consumer reporting agency (CRA) might hire someone to go to courts physically to pull records for you.
If you need a quick turnaround on a background check, stick with the minimum, or you can choose a background check service that specializes in swift results like HireRight Express. The deeper the dive or the more information you need, it’s likely to take longer to get results back. For drug screenings and verifications of employment, education, and licenses sometimes rely on others to respond, so it may take more time.
Although a basic background check averages around $30 per applicant, the add-on services can add up. Some offer drug screenings or medical sanctions checks while others offer pre-adverse and adverse letters to make it easy for you to stay compliant.
You should be able to get to support by phone or email, and all our top-rated background check services offer customer support during business hours on weekdays.
Notes on Compliance & DIY Background Check Services
The FCRA is a federal law that protects consumers and your applicants in many ways. Let’s focus on why it’s important to you as an employer, how to stay compliant, what happens when you aren’t, and which background check services to use.
When you conduct a background check, you must first tell the applicant you’re going to do it (disclosure), and then get written permission from an applicant to do so. This is part of being FCRA compliant. The third-party background check service you use must also be FCRA-compliant by providing factual information only.
If you plan to not hire the applicant because of something you found in the background check, you would notify the applicant of a pre-adverse action. This would include the reason you are rejecting them, a copy of their background check, and a copy of a summary of their rights under the FCRA.
A consumer (the applicant) has the right to dispute the findings in the background check, and it’s up to you (the employer) to determine the amount of time you’ll wait for the response. Typically, a week is sufficient. After that time, you’ll need to issue an adverse action letter. That letter should include information on the CRA you used, a reminder that the applicant can dispute the information, and another copy of the FCRA rights summary.
The steps above are summarized. Want to ensure you don’t miss a single step? Go to the source from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
What Happens Otherwise?
The short answer is lawsuits. It isn’t a given, but several businesses that have missed a crucial step in the process have been hit with costly class-action lawsuits. From big corporations to small businesses, no one is bulletproof. McDonald’s, Whole Foods, Uber, and TransUnion have all been hit with lawsuits in this area.
Background Check Services’ Role
The good news is that most background check services meant for employers are FCRA-complaint, and they work to help you stay compliant too like our top-rated choices. Things get a little tricky when you delve into the do-it-yourself background check services because they aren’t always working with updated and accurate information.
If you come across a background check service that states in disclaimers that they are not FCRA-compliant, you should avoid using them. Those services typically are meant for personal checks, rather than for employment purposes.
Online Background Check Scams
It could be tempting to believe the “instant results” some background check websites claim, and their prices are low, which is especially appealing to small businesses keeping a close eye on capital. Many of those sites, however, aren’t what you need for employer background checks. To avoid feeling like you’ve been scammed by a website that provides little to no information or outdated records, look for legitimate background check websites.
You can trust background check services that are members of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). The association ensures the screener is compliant with federal, state, and local laws. Also, the best background check service for small business will include options for getting permission for a background check and sending letters of adverse hire. They’ll announce proudly that they are consumer reporting agencies as well, rather than offering disclaimers to try to protect themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
A background check can give you insight into a candidate for a position you want to fill. Sometimes, that information isn’t applicable but, other times, it could show you that the person is not a good fit for your business’ needs. Protect your business, reputation, and your applicants by remaining compliant with FCRA’s guidelines. Consider these points below when making your decision on the background check service you use.
How Sensitive Is the Job for Which I’m Hiring?
Financial services, for example, deal with sensitive information all the time. You want to make sure your employees treat that information with respect. A background check can reveal a criminal history that might make it clear that an applicant is not suitable for a particularly sensitive job.
Why Can’t I Just Hire Based on Instinct?
There’s nothing legally preventing you from hiring someone on the spot without looking into their past employment, verifying education, or other historical information. However, your instinct might be off, and you can’t afford a bad hire. You can probably afford a background check.
Is It Necessary to Run a Drug Screening?
State laws on drug testing vary, but it’s safe to say that a drug screening for an applicant is a good idea. It can protect you from lawsuits, keep your other employees safe, and it can lower the costs of insurance in some cases.
What If I’m Only Hiring Freelancers?
It may seem that background checks are only for full-time employees, but it might be a good idea to have one run on a freelancer. Say you’re hiring someone to do short-term data entry for you, and he or she will have access to proprietary information, passwords, and so on. You want to make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job, no matter the length of the job, and a background check can help you do that.
List of All Background Check Services Reviews
If you’d like to see how others feel about the background check services for small businesses, then read our users’ reviews. Plus, you’ll be able to see a little more in-depth information about each of the best background check services available.
HireRight is a provider of on-demand employment background checks. Prices range from $29.95 to $64.95+ per search. View Profile
Checkr provides compliance background checks for global enterprises and startups. Prices are customized. View Profile
AccurateNow provides employment background check services to small and medium-sized businesses. Prices range from $24.95 to $63.95+ per report. View Profile
GoodHire is an employment screening solution for businesses across various industries. Prices range from $29.99 to $79.99 per search. View Profile
AssureHire automates applicant background screening processes across various industries in the U.S. and internationally. Prices are customized. View Profile
TazWorks is a customizable background check solution for employment and tenant screening. Prices are customized. View Profile
CareerBuilder Employment Screening provides pre-employment background screening solutions for businesses of all sizes. Prices are customized. View Profile
Global Verification Network provides customized background screening services for businesses across different industries. Prices are customized. View Profile
Kwantek provides pre-hire background services, criminal record checking, identity and education verifications, and more. Prices are customized. View Profile
Sterling Talent Solutions offers identity and education verification, as well as criminal records checking. Prices range from $50-$100+ per report. View Profile
InfoMart provides screening services for identity, criminal records, drug use, and education background. Prices are customized. View Profile
The Bottom Line
You could settle for almost any background check service, but you open yourself up to potential legal trouble or inaccurate information. Choosing the best background check service for small business employers like GoodHire is the first step in choosing the best employee for your business. GoodHire gives you all the information you need to make an informed decision, and compliance is at the top of its priorities.