Running a Background Check with us can give you confidence that the people who spend time with you and your family are safe and trustworthy. And running a Background Check on yourself helps to ensure that your identity hasn’t been compromised or stolen.
Want a custom quote for high-volume or customized needs? We loved the clear expectation it set: “Let’s Get Started. We’ll get back to you within one business day.” A prompt, no nonsense promise it kept. The simple, clean interface isn’t just nice to use; it underscores GoodHire’s service.
To test those top sixteen, we sent emails and made dozens of phone calls under the guise of a business owner, landlord, and someone looking to help their sister find a nanny. We had each company’s reps guide us through the process, and ordered the most basic background check on our own Managing Editor. Then we poked around each site and compared the end results for accuracy and readability.
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Treat every applicant the same. You should have a written policy in place to ensure every applicant is treated the same way for the same job. “You can’t say ‘Sally has pink hair and a nose ring, so I’m going to run her through a background check,’” says Corcoran-Galarza. “Meanwhile, ‘Natalie is clean-cut and looks like somebody’s angel. So I’m not gonna run a check on her.’ You can’t do that.” Consistency is important. For example, you could have a policy that states that anyone who has been convicted of a felony in the past seven years is not eligible for hire. That is fair.
“That stranger has access to your customers, your cash, your IT — everything,” said Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources. He said hiring someone solely based off how they come across in an interview is a recipe for disaster.
Decide what you need in a background check. “This is often the most misunderstood aspect of the background check business,” Corcoran-Galarza says. If the role you’re hiring for doesn’t require any driving, you shouldn’t check your applicant’s driving record.
For many screening companies, the average guy who runs a coffee shop isn’t worth their time and resources. Some say it right in their name: Corporate Screening Services, for example. When we called the company, it politely but firmly said it doesn’t serve individuals or run one-off checks.
According to A Matter of Fact, the most common reason for delay in completing background checks is when employers do not fill out background check request forms accurately and completely, and when they fail to get the authorization and release forms signed by the job applicant. Release forms are required by federal law, and all job applicants must also be notified in a separate letter that the background check is going to take place. Agencies cannot begin the checking process until they are given copies of these signed forms.
It’s possible to make the argument that adding background checks to this mix isn’t necessary. After 50 million guests, there are no more than a handful of anecdotes of assault by Airbnb guests or hosts.
People-search sites can also backfire. Against Cohen’s advice, a friend “used a people-search site to look up this guy she was interested in,” she says. When Cohen’s friend completed the search on the man, it sent an email to him, saying, “‘Hey, Susan just did a background check on you! Would you like to do a background check on her?’ Now he thinks she’s the weird one.”
CrimCheck is one of few screeners that will dig into health records, if needed, but it just barely sneaked past our user experience evaluation — we didn’t like that its pricing and turnaround time was unclear, and it never responded to one of our emails asking for more information.
“Outside entities not only, in most cases, do electronic searches; they also go right to the source,” Aitken told Business News Daily. “They actually do research and [personally] search the jurisdictions.”
Renting your neighbor’s car does not require a background check, either. Getaround will check your DMV records and verify your identity, and RelayRides will confirm your phone number, verify your identity, and run your information through antifraud detection. “Renter profiles and reviews from other owners let you make informed decisions before confirming a trip,” it says on its website.
They run a social security trace to identify addresses associated with the potential driver’s name during the past seven years, and then a criminal background check to search for his or her name and addresses in a series of national, state and local databases for convictions in the last seven years. These include the National Sex Offender Registry, National Criminal Search and several different databases used to flag suspected terrorists. Upon identifying a potential criminal record, the background check provider sends someone to review the record in-person at the relevant courthouse or, if possible, pulls the record digitally.
When we were told we would be using Kennect, Sterling Talent Solutions’ service for individual background checks, to process our single check, we were surprised. If you’re doing more than 15 checks a year, you should opt into Sterling’s corporate-focused services that can better perform checks in batches for an annual fee (prices vary depending on your company size, but the rep was reluctant to tell us more). In the rep’s “honest opinion,” it’s best to use Kennect for fewer than 15 checks per year; the annual fee isn’t worth it. In our honest opinion, if you’re doing that few, use GoodHire.
We’ve mentioned having our business license verified in order to order a background check — nearly every background screening company requires you to have one. These screeners theoretically could do checks for anyone, but things can get pretty hairy liability-wise. That’s partially because of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) laws, says Corcoran-Galarza. The law protects against any person just running an invasive background check to use as blackmail. A business license acts as a buffer between the screening company and the person requesting the screen; it verifies that you’re performing a background check for the right reasons.
Now, let’s say you’re a small business. Most screening services, including GoodHire, run a check to verify that you have a valid business license. Once it confirms that, the next step is to get signed written consent from the person you’re checking.
As with credit checks, experts recommend checking your background periodically to make sure there’s nothing fishy going on. FCRA-approved background check companies will provide you a copy of the information they have on file for free or for a small fee (no more than $12).
“An employer might learn from a person’s Facebook page that they belong to a particular religious group or have a disability that is not visually apparent,” Briggs said. “Knowing that information can open up an employer to liability, because they are not allowed to ask about those things in an application or interview for a job, and once you know something, you can be accused of considering that information illegally when making the hiring decision.”
There are some companies that advertise for both: Pro Forma passed all of our tests and offers many different types of checks. The rub: an exorbitant setup fee ($150) just to get started. The rep admitted that Pro Forma targets larger organizations that perform multiple checks rather than small businesses; though, anyone with a business license can use its service. Similarly, Intellicorp performs checks for small businesses, but its main focus is on companies with many employees.
Because a company that does background checks most often employs a third party, it’s unlikely that an organization is going to initiate this step unless it’s pretty certain you’re the best person for the job. Congrats—you’re so close to landing this job.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act is a consumer protection law that makes sure no one’s snooping around another person’s private background for the wrong reasons. It requires that a business only perform background checks that are relevant to the applicant and the position they are applying for. For example, it’s within legal bounds to check if a teacher is on a sex offender list, as they are in constant contact with children, but unless a teacher is handling money, there’s no legitimate reason to run a credit check.
Let the applicant know if you’re not going to hire them because of the background check. If there is a “discrepancy” — that is, something potentially damning — in someone’s background check, a company must send an “adverse action notification.” The person checked has the right to dispute the information, and the job must be held for the applicant during any dispute process. It’s a key part of compliance for legal hiring. Read more about adverse action on the FTC website.
Obviously, if you have any kind of criminal record—be it a misdemeanor when you were a senior in high school or a tax fraud charge five years ago—you may be understandably anxious. However, depending on the job description and the criminal charge, an employer could be in trouble if it automatically rejects you as a potential hire based on a certain conviction or record of arrest. This is according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and you’d do well to review your rights if you’re concerned about a blemish on your criminal record. With that said, because recreational drugs, such as marijuana, are still illegal in most of the United States, if you fail a drug test and find yourself waiting around for an offer that never surfaces, well, there’s probably not much you can do about that.
Let’s start with its site. There’s a pricing page that goes into great detail about each of its screening packages and how much they cost. (Most sites make you call and chat with a salesperson first. GoodHire is one of a few background check sites that lets you sign up on your own, online.) We also appreciated that before we bought anything, GoodHire provided us with a sample background report so we knew what to expect.
Inside the client portal, each employee’s status is listed (our Managing Editor was “Clear”) — no need to click in to review the report unless a discrepancy is flagged. (A competitor’s site, Accurate Background, forces you to click into each report to see its results.)
Even though they are very rare scary anecdotes–like an Airbnb user who says he was sexually assaulted by a host–are bad for business. So why don’t more companies add background checks to their platforms to give users peace of mind?
Criminal records are public, so it’s possible to go to a county courthouse and check the criminal background of anyone (and you won’t be subject to some of the FCRA regulations). However, it’s not easy to parse through all those paper records by hand — plus, you’d need to check the county and state records your potential hire has lived: if a person moves across state lines, their record will look clean in the new state.
Of the five sites we hand-tested, Sterling Talent Solutions — er, Kennect — had the most expensive basic package at $60, but it includes three county criminal checks (which might be worth the premium as many county courts charge a flat fee around $20 to $60 for access to their records). But there’s the rub. GoodHire and HireRight, another service we looked at, let you choose if you want county criminal records in your basic package. If you don’t want them, GoodHire and HireRight don’t make you pay for them.
“For example, having five speeding tickets in the past two years may be a valid reason to not hire a delivery driver, but their misdemeanor vandalism conviction 10 years ago probably is not,” Briggs said. “If the employer has inappropriately relied on something like an arrest report to deny an applicant a job, they can be in big trouble.”