The Best Background Check Companies of 2020

By Skye Schooley,
business.com staff
| Updated
Sep 11, 2020

Looking for the best background check service for pre-employment screening? Compare features and prices of the best background check services.
Best for Small Businesses
Preset and customized plans
Easy-to-use online portal
Online candidate consent tool
Best for Very Small Businesses
Industry-specific options
Transparent pricing
User-friendly reports via WebASAP
Best for Self-Service
3 screening packages
Convenient online portal
Most reports available in one day
Most Affordable
Pay-as-you-go packages
No monthly fees
Low setup fee
Looking for the best background check service for pre-employment screening? Compare features and prices of the best background check services.

Background check services can protect your business by revealing pertinent information about a candidate's criminal history, identity, employment and education history, credit score, and more. When choosing an employee background screening service, consider factors like types of screenings available, cost, accuracy and ease of use. To help you find a service that's right for you, we researched and analyzed more than 100 options to determine the best background check companies in 2020.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
135
Considered
27
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  GoodHire InfoMart SterlingNOW AccurateNow
Industry specialties Construction, healthcare, nonprofit, retail, staffing, technology Automotive, education, finance, food service, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, sharing economy, sports and entertainment, staffing, transportation Energy and utilities, financial and business services, government and education, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, transportation, construction, media and entertainment, nonprofit, retail, SMBs, staffing Gig economy and marketplaces, healthcare, insurance, retail, SMBs, staffing and transportation
Cost per report (without add-ons) $29.99 - $79.99 $28.95 - $78.95 $29.95 - $79.95 $29.95 - $74.95
Setup fee $49.99 $49.95 $0 $25
Average turnaround time 1-3 days Less than 2 days Less than 1 day 2 or 3 business days
FCRA compliant and PBSA accredited Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Reviews

GoodHire: Best for Small Businesses

Preset plans disclose the type of searches conducted, turnaround times and costs.
In addition to ordering checks, GoodHire's online portal can be used to access individual assessments, adverse action and automated adjudication tools.
New accounts are subject to a one-time setup fee of $49.99 for verification.

GoodHire offers pre-employment screening services to businesses of all industries and sizes. Its background checks comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. With its easy-to-use online portal, transparent fees and customization features, GoodHire is our pick as the best background check company for small businesses. Although it serves businesses (and nonprofits) in a variety of industries, GoodHire is especially useful for companies in the construction, healthcare, nonprofit, retail, staffing and technology industries.

Setting up a background check is extremely easy with GoodHire. Once your company is verified – a process that typically takes one day – you can order and review all background checks from the company's online portal. When you order a background check, GoodHire uses an e-consent tool that obtains the candidate's permission electronically. All final reports are saved in GoodHire's online portal. 

Businesses can run as many – or as few – background checks as necessary. GoodHire clearly displays the pricing and turnaround time for its services on its website. You may be able to negotiate with GoodHire for custom rates and pricing, though, especially if your business conducts a high volume of screenings. 

Here's more about the three screening packages GoodHire offers. 

Basic Plan

  • Cost: $29.99 per check
  • Turnaround time: One business day
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace (and associated counties), national criminal database search, sex offender list search

Standard Plan

  • Cost: $54.99 per check
  • Turnaround time: One or two business days
  • Included searches: Social Security number (and associated counties), national criminal database search, sex offender list search, domestic watchlist search, and a county criminal court search, which searches the past seven years of court records (for up to three counties)

Premium Plan

  • Cost: $79.99 per check
  • Turnaround time: Two to four business days
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace (and associated counties), national criminal database search, sex offender list search, domestic watchlist search, county criminal court search (seven-year search history for up to three counties), and education and employment verification 

GoodHire's Standard and Premium plans are subject to additional third-party fees, dependent upon county courts, employer verification and education verification. However, GoodHire won't charge you these fees without your permission. All new users are subject to a one-time setup fee of $49.99 for account verification.

Whichever plan you choose, you can customize a background check with GoodHire's add-on capabilities, which include identity checks, advanced criminal and civil records searches, verifications, motor vehicle records checks, employment credit reports, international checks, drug screenings, healthcare sanctions, and ongoing alerts. These capabilities make it easy to modify each background check to fit your exact business needs.

To learn more about GoodHire's pre-employment background screenings, you can view a demo on GoodHire's website. You can reach customer support by phone, email or online chat. When we contacted the company, posing as a small business owner, representatives responded promptly with thorough answers to our questions, even providing links to additional resources and information.

InfoMart: Best for Very Small Businesses

InfoMart recommends specific pre-employment screening services based on your industry and employee type.
InfoMart has a fast turnaround, reporting background check results in less than two days.
There is no online demo, so new users will need to contact a representative to learn more about InfoMart's background check portal, WebASAP.

With its transparent pricing, easy-to-use online portal, industry-specific screenings and no minimum requirements, InfoMart is our pick as the best background check company for very small businesses. InfoMart provides background checks for a wide variety of businesses, particularly in the automotive, education, finance, food service, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, sharing economy, sports and entertainment, staffing, and transportation industries. If you are a startup or very small business looking to screen your first job applicants or new hires, you may need a little extra assistance, and InfoMart can provide just that.

One of InfoMart's best features is its pricing and screening flexibility. In addition to preset screening packages and add-on features (listed below), InfoMart offers screening recommendations based on industry and employee type, simplifying the process of determining what screenings you need. It lists all its pricing (even third-party fees) transparently on its website, so you know exactly how much you'll spend on each report. InfoMart does charge a $49.95 setup fee, but it requires no contracts or minimum number of screenings.

Simple Plan

  • Cost: $28.95 per check
  • Turnaround time: One business day
  • Included searches: National Social Security number search, multistate criminal history search and multistate sex offender search

Popular Plan

  • Cost: $53.95 per check
  • Included searches: National Social Security number search, multistate criminal history search, multistate sex offender search, county criminal history and verified watchlist

Classic Plan

  • Cost: $78.95 per check
  • Included searches: National Social Security number search, multistate criminal history search, multistate sex offender search, county criminal history, verified watchlist, education verification and employment verification

Additional Screening Services

Alongside the preset plans, you can order a variety of other screenings for additional costs and third-party fees. Unlike many competitors, InfoMart breaks down these costs, telling you exactly what you will be charged.

  • Statewide criminal history search: $14.45 per state, plus court fees
  • Federal criminal history search: $16.45
  • Civil court search: Starting at $21.45
  • Motor vehicle history search: $15.45
  • Professional license verification: Starting at $14.45
  • Personal references: $14.45 per reference
  • Drug screening (five-panel lab test): $57.95

The flexibility of InfoMart's background screening services makes it ideal for very small businesses that may have unique screening needs. To screen a candidate, you only need to fill out their name, email and location of employment. Once the candidate accepts the invitation by email, they provide their own personal identifying information for InfoMart to screen. This reduces the possibility of you filling out incorrect information and delaying the results.

InfoMart returns most background check results to you via WebASAP in less than two days. The WebASAP portal allows you to customize your services, search and sort applicant profiles, and save and view notes on each applicant. This mobile-optimized system is easy to use and ideal for startups and very small businesses.

We contacted InfoMart's support team to ask questions about its services and test its customer support. Although InfoMart does not have a demo, its agents did offer to explain how to use the portal over the phone. If you have any questions about the screening process, you can contact a representative by phone, email or live chat. You can also access InfoMart's resource library and blog.

SterlingNOW: Best for Self-Service

You can access support through the online chat feature.
The agency closes 66% of criminal searches within one hour and 90% within one day.
The average turnaround for education and employment verification is 3-5 days, depending on the responsiveness of the organization.

Sterling offers a variety of pre-employment screening options. The self-service division of the company, SterlingNOW, is especially convenient for small and midsize businesses that want to order quick, reliable background checks on their own terms, and it's most beneficial for those that need less than 100 checks per year. With its online portal, customizations and fast results, this agency is our pick as the best background check company for self-service.

To run a report, you need to submit your business information, including the legal name of your company, to SterlingNOW. (Federal regulations require that your business is credentialed to request background screenings.) Once your account is set up, you can order the screenings you need.

SterlingNOW offers three screening packages that you pay for on a per-report basis. You may incur additional fees, like court processing fees, for some states.

Basic Plan

  • Cost: $29.95 per check
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace, multistate instant criminal check with verification, Department of Justice sex offender search and single-county criminal search

Preferred Plan

  • Cost: $59.95 per check
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace, multistate instant criminal check with verification, Department of Justice sex offender search, seven-year county criminal record search, federal criminal district search, and Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) terrorist watchlist search

Pro Plan

  • Cost: $79.95 per check
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace, multistate instant criminal check with verification, Department of Justice sex offender search, seven-year county criminal record search, seven-year federal criminal district search, locator select with verification, and OFAC terrorist watchlist search

You can add on extra services, like a driver's record check for $9.95 each, and education or employment verification for $19.95 each. Custom packages are available.

Sterling also offers advanced services, like credit reports, drug and health screenings, executive investigations, fingerprinting, global checks, motor vehicle records, social media searches, workforce monitoring, and COVID-19 health tests. It conducts extensive verifications, like professional license and certification verifications, military employment verifications, and professional reference checks. The comprehensiveness of Sterling's capabilities makes it a convenient one-stop service for businesses seeking a pre-employment screening agency.

You can access a demo, FAQs, the Sterling blog, webinars and case studies on the company's website. You can reach customer support by phone or web chat. When we contacted Sterling's support team to ask about its services and test its customer support, its representatives were helpful and polite.

AccurateNow: Most Affordable Background Check Company

There are no monthly fees or minimum check requirements.
The candidate and recruiter portals are mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
AccurateNow does not offer drug or healthcare screenings, though its parent company does.

As a division of Accurate Background, AccurateNow is an affordable, FCRA-compliant background check service for small and midsize businesses. It is our pick as the best background check company for those on a budget. It offers pay-as-you-go plans; you don't need to meet any minimums or pay monthly fees. This is ideal for very small businesses that need to conduct background checks without being locked into a commitment.

Getting started with AccurateNow is quick and easy. You simply register your account, pay a one-time setup fee of $25 and sign an electronic agreement. You can begin ordering reports after you've been approved. You can access and order each background check through AccurateNow's mobile-friendly candidate and recruiter portals, and reports are typically available to view within a few days, depending on the package you select.

AccurateNow offers three different background check packages – Basic, Standard and Premium. Each plan charges on a per-report basis and is subject to applicable fees, such as New York statutory fees, statewide statutory fees, international searches and third-party verification fees.

Basic Plan

  • Cost: $29.95 per report
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace, address history check, current county criminal search, national criminal check with county verification and National Sex Offender Registry search

Standard Plan

  • Cost: $59.95 per report
  • Included searches: Social Security number trace, address history check, seven-year criminal history search, national criminal check with county verification, National Sex Offender Registry search and Global Watch search

Premium Plan

  • Cost: $74.95 per report
  • Includes: Social Security number trace, address history check, 7-year criminal history search, national criminal check with county verification, National Sex Offender Registry search, Global Watch search, one education verification and one employment verification

AccurateNow offers custom packages and elective add-ons like education and employment verification, motor vehicle reports, professional license verification, and federal criminal searches for $9.95 each. If you unearth troubling information and need to inform a candidate that they won't be moving forward in the employment process, AccurateNow can distribute pre-adverse and adverse action letters for $5. AccurateNow's add-on searches may have restrictions (and additional third-party fees may apply), but as we found in our research, AccurateNow charges less for these services than its competitors do.

AccurateNow doesn't offer a demo that explains how the service works, but you can reach customer support by phone and email. To test the customer service, we contacted AccurateNow, posing as a small business owner interested in background check services. Overall, we were satisfied with the customer service. We received timely responses to our questions and further information on how to set up an account.

Pricing

The cost of conducting a background check varies greatly, depending on the provider you select and the screenings you want conducted. Some background check companies provide their pricing online, but many do not, meaning you'll need to contact those companies for a price quote. Nearly every company we reviewed offers discounts for high volumes of reports.

Some background check providers offer preset packages with specific screenings (e.g., Social Security number traces, criminal history searches), whereas others offer a la carte options so you can select the individual screenings you want.

Most of the services we evaluated offer multiple screening packages, typically ranging from basic to premium. The specific price and the services included in each plan vary by provider. We compiled an average of the types of checks typically included in basic, mid-tier, and premium plans and the average costs for those plans.

Basic Background Checks

  • Average cost:$30 per check
  • Average screenings included: Basic identity verification (Social Security number trace) and criminal history search (searches of national criminal databases and sex offender registries)
  • Ideal for: Small businesses that need inexpensive, basic reports to confirm new employees' identities and check for criminal backgrounds

Mid-Tier (Standard) Background Checks

  • Average cost: $60 per check
  • Average screenings included: Searches of domestic watchlists and county criminal databases in addition to identity verification and criminal history search
  • Ideal for: Small businesses that need to run few to several pre-employment background checks at an affordable rate

Premium Background Checks

  • Average cost: $80 per check
  • Average screenings included: Education and employment verification in addition to previous tiers' searches
  • Ideal for: Businesses that need to run thorough screenings on potential employees, including confirmation of their education and employment history 

Additional Fees and Requirements

  • Minimum commitment: Some companies require you to commit to a certain number of checks each year.
  • Drug testing: Most services charge extra for drug testing. Fees range from $50 to $150 per test, depending on how many drugs you want to screen candidates for.  
  • Setup fees: Some providers charge a one-time setup fee to cover the cost of the account verification process – typically $25 to $50.
  • Third-party fees: Additional third-party fees may apply, such as for education and employment verifications and court costs. Fees vary by state and screening provider. They are primarily charged in states that have more complex processes. For example, in New York, court processing fees often range from $15 to $100 per check.
  • A la carte options:Many background check companies offer a la carte services, like motor vehicle records and professional license verification, that you may want to conduct. Some companies offer these services solely on an a la carte basis, rather than including them in plans, which can become costly if you need an exhaustive series of checks on multiple people.

Pricing

The cost of conducting a background check varies greatly, depending on the provider you select and the screenings you want conducted. Some background check companies provide their pricing online, but many do not, meaning you'll need to contact those companies for a price quote. Nearly every company we reviewed offers discounts for high volumes of reports.

Some background check providers offer preset packages with specific screenings (e.g., Social Security number traces, criminal history searches), whereas others offer a la carte options so you can select the individual screenings you want.

Most of the services we evaluated offer multiple screening packages, typically ranging from basic to premium. The specific price and the services included in each plan vary by provider. We compiled an average of the types of checks typically included in basic, mid-tier, and premium plans and the average costs for those plans.

Basic Background Checks

  • Average cost: $30 per check
  • Average screenings included: Basic identity verification (Social Security number trace) and criminal history search (searches of national criminal databases and sex offender registries)
  • Ideal for: Small businesses that need inexpensive, basic reports to confirm new employees' identities and check for criminal backgrounds

Mid-Tier (Standard) Background Checks

  • Average cost: $60 per check
  • Average screenings included: Searches of domestic watchlists and county criminal databases in addition to identity verification and criminal history search
  • Ideal for: Small businesses that need to run few to several pre-employment background checks at an affordable rate

Premium Background Checks

  • Average cost: $80 per check
  • Average screenings included: Education and employment verification in addition to previous tiers' searches
  • Ideal for: Businesses that need to run thorough screenings on potential employees, including confirmation of their education and employment history 

Additional Fees and Requirements

  • Minimum commitment: Some companies require you to commit to a certain number of checks each year.
  • Drug testing: Most services charge extra for drug testing. Fees range from $50 to $150 per test, depending on how many drugs you want to screen candidates for.
  • Setup fees: Some providers charge a one-time setup fee to cover the cost of the account verification process – typically $25 to $50.
  • Third-party fees: Additional third-party fees may apply, such as for education and employment verifications and court costs. Fees vary by state and screening provider. They are primarily charged in states that have more complex processes. For example, in New York, court processing fees often range from $15 to $100 per check.
  • A la carte options: Many background check companies offer a la carte services, like motor vehicle records and professional license verification, that you may want to conduct. Some companies offer these services solely on an a la carte basis, rather than including them in plans, which can become costly if you need an exhaustive series of checks on multiple people.

Buying Guide

Negotiating with Background Check Companies

There isn't typically much room for negotiation on the cost of running a background check, but there may be wiggle room in other areas. To get the best deal possible from a full-service firm, here are five areas where you might save some money:

  • Setup fees: Ask if you can have the setup fee waived. Some firms will in order to land your business.
  • Bulk discounts: If you conduct several background checks each year, see if the provider will give you a per-screening discount.
  • Commitment discounts: Ask the provider if they can lower the price of individual checks if you commit to a certain number of screenings each year. 
  • A la carte pricing: If the company only offers set packages that include screenings you don't need, see if you can get a la carte pricing on the services you do need.
  • Price matching: See if the service is willing to match a competitor's lower price. 

Ask the provider if you need to sign a contract. If so, review it in detail. Make sure it includes all the fees you agreed to and no additional charges. Also check it for any special clauses pertaining to cancellation of the service. Are you committing to a certain number of checks? What happens if you don't conduct them all? Can you walk away at any time? These are all questions you want answered before you hire an employee background check service.

Benefits of Using a Background Check Company

Employee background checks have become a common part of the hiring process. If your business has never used a background check site to verify an applicant's history, here are some compelling reasons why you might want to use one.

1. Improve company safety and security.

A recent study by background check company HireRight revealed that 84% of organizations conduct criminal background checks, with 73% using background screening to verify past employment and/or conduct reference checks.

Research shows that employers have good reason to screen potential hires. The HireRight study reported that 84% of employers discovered a misrepresentation on a resume or job application, with 23% of employers stating that their background report screenings uncovered misrepresentations of a candidate's educational credentials.

2. Hire better-quality candidates.

Most employers believe implementing some type of background investigation in their hiring process ultimately paid dividends. More than 50% of the businesses surveyed by HireRight said it led to better-quality hires.

3. Enhance your company's reputation and compliance.

Checking a candidate's background entails more than just calling their references. Employers today have several options as to what they can screen job candidates for. Your industry and business will determine how comprehensive your pre-employment screening needs to be to maintain compliance. For example, a company in the medical field will need to conduct different screenings from a company in the trucking industry.

These are common pre-employment screening and services that background check companies offer:

  • Social Security number trace
  • Address history check
  • Criminal history check
  • Civil records check
  • Sex offender registry search
  • Domestic watchlist search
  • Global watchlist search
  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • Professional license verification
  • Military employment verification
  • Professional reference check
  • Social media search
  • Motor vehicle reports
  • Credit report check
  • Workers' compensation history search
  • Healthcare sanction check
  • Drug testing   
  • Identity check
  • International check
  • Ongoing monitoring and alerts

The best background check firms offer a comprehensive array of screening options and add-on reporting to fit your needs. When conducting screenings, many firms go beyond an online database search. For example, when conducting criminal background checks, they might follow up with county courthouses to inspect onsite records. These comprehensive screening options can help you find and hire the best employees, maintain legal compliance, and enhance your company's reputation.

Background Check FAQs

What is a professional background check?

A professional background check is a type of screening that employers conduct on potential employees to verify their history and credentials. A pre-employment background check can include any number of screenings, depending on what information the employer wants to know. For example, an employer can use a background check to verify a candidate's identity, whether the candidate has a criminal record, their employment and education history, any active professional licenses or certifications, and their driving record. During a professional background check, an employer may require the candidate to undergo additional screening, such as a drug test.

How long does an employment background check take?

The turnaround time depends on the information you are verifying and how comprehensive you want the results to be. The best background check companies can provide accurate, thorough results within one to five days of your request. Many companies also offer instant background check screening, but these results are pulled from a database that may not be accurate or comprehensive.

Is there a free background check service?

Technically, yes, but it may not serve your needs. Since many court records are available to the public, it is possible to obtain background information on someone for free. However, you get what you pay for; free background reports may be inaccurate. Further, employers are legally bound to follow certain practices, and using a free background check services could open your company up to liability. If you are looking for a service to run pre-employment background checks on potential employees, it is best to use a reputable company that complies with the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA) and other current laws and regulations.

What types of businesses benefit most from using a background check company?

Businesses in every industry can benefit from partnering with a background check company, but some find it more necessary than others. For example, businesses in highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance are very likely to screen potential employees. Additionally, anyone in industries like transportation, technology, construction, manufacturing, government, and education will likely need to pre-screen employees to maintain safety and compliance. Industries that have high employee turnover, like retail and food service, are less likely to run employee background checks.

What are the benefits of using a background check company versus doing background checks yourself? Accredited background check agencies must follow several employment laws, so partnering with one can help ensure that you make hiring decisions based on accurate background check results and maintain security and compliance. Some small business owners may want to save money by performing their own background checks, but this isn't always safe – or legal. Conducting a background check by yourself by looking at social media accounts or pulling basic (and sometimes inaccurate) information from free public databases can open your business up to a litany of legal problems.

Should you hire a private investigator for a background check? Most small businesses benefit from running background checks on job applicants before making hiring decisions. Although you can hire a private investigator to run a background check on a potential new hire for you, many small businesses are better off using an online background check service instead. These services often have easy-to-use online portals so you can order as many or as few background checks on your own as you need. The affordability and convenience of these services are beneficial for many small businesses. Although some reports take days to receive, many offer near-instant results.

What is included in a background check report? Background check reports can include a variety of screenings and verifications, depending on your package. Most background reports screen for standard information like a Social Security number trace, address history, criminal and civil records, sex offender registries, and domestic and global watchlists.

Many background check reports give you the option to add on supplemental verifications to screen for things like previous employment, education, professional licenses or military employment records. You can check professional references, social media sites, motor vehicle records, credit reports and workers' compensation history. Businesses in certain industries may need additional screenings like healthcare sanctions, drug testing or ongoing monitoring.

Can you charge an employee for a background check? In short – yes, depending on your state. There are currently no federal laws that prohibit employers from passing on background check charges to job applicants; however, some states restrict it, such as California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington, D.C. You should double-check the laws in your state before asking job applicants to foot the bill.

How to Choose a Background Check Company

When you're considering a background check company, first identify the type of data you need to gather on potential employees ‒ that factor alone affects the price and narrows down the agencies that can help you. For example, not all of the services we evaluated handle drug screenings. If this is a screening you need, several services will automatically be eliminated from your list. 

Accreditation and Compliance

Verify that the pre-employment screening company and its searches comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA outlines how employee background checks must be conducted – for instance, you must obtain the job candidate's consent to be screened and give them an opportunity to review and rebut what was discovered. Some agencies do not adhere to FCRA laws, and businesses that use these services are opening themselves up to a potential lawsuit.

You also want to verify that the background check company you're considering is an accredited member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA). This accreditation is given to many of the top consumer reporting agencies that abide by strict professional standards. 

Turnaround Time

How soon you need the results of your screenings should be another factor in which agency you choose. Some sites allow you to search and view results instantly, while others may take up to five days to give you the results. If you can wait a few days before making a hiring decision, you may receive more comprehensive and accurate screening results.

Customization

It is important that you get the exact reports you need from a background check service. As you evaluate agencies, you'll notice that some only offer preset packages; other services offer specific packages but allow you to customize the plan for the screenings you need.

If you know which screenings and tests you want, ask the agency you're considering if it will be flexible with its pricing and accommodate your request. One last consideration is that while some services offer a variety of screening types – such as drug tests – their results may take longer.

Community Expert Insight

As part of our research, we reached out to small business owners and HR experts in our community to understand what they look for in a background check provider and what features they find most valuable. This helped us to identify what the best background check providers have in common.

After compiling our research, we found that most small business owners emphasized usability, fast turnaround, accuracy and strong customer support. They also focused on compliance, so we made sure our top providers were FCRA compliant and PBSA accredited.

For example, Jesse Silkoff, co-founder and president of MyRoofingPal, said that although his small business only runs a few background checks per year, a screening platform that is quick and easy to use is essential.

"Although I only hire about three or four employees per year, I do like to run any employees through a background check if they will be interacting with other members of the team and clients, or have access to confidential information," said Silkoff. "Sterling is an easy-to-use and quick online background check option that gets results within a day or so. I have had a good experience using it."

Gilad Rom, founder of Huan, chose to partner with GoodHire for several of the same reasons. In addition to its high usability, excellent web interface and fast turnaround, Rom said he likes GoodHire for its responsive customer service. Similarly to Silkoff, although his company only hires roughly three to five employee each year, he said pre-employment screening is a necessary part of that process.

"All small business owners should run background checks," said Rom. "Employees often have access to company accounts and confidential customer information. You wouldn't want this sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands."

According to Tatyana Tyagun, HR generalist at Chanty, a comprehensive, affordable background report is key, which is why her team uses AccurateNow.

"I like that it's affordable and accessible and works great for our industry," said Tyagun. "No matter if we want to hire for a senior role or a newbie, it works incredibly well. The information is always accurate, and we get the reports very quickly."

Our Methodology

Business.com strives to research and review companies fairly and objectively. For our review of background check services, we began with 135 companies. We found these companies from the key industry players, other review sites' recommendations and extensive research on background check services.

After analyzing each company, we condensed our list down to the top 27 pre-employment screening services. From this list, we researched accreditations, company reviews, and features like screening types, customization, technology, report portals, turnaround time and reporting accuracy.

From these 27 screening companies, we chose four that stood out as the best for small business, very small business, self-service and low budgets. We then reviewed each company's pricing structure, setup fees, contract requirements, employee minimums, mobile access, demos and standout features.

We evaluated these four best picks even further, assessing the customer support, chat capabilities, resources and other features that each company offers. We contacted sales and support representatives by phone, online chat and email, posing as small business owners. We inquired about each background check service's pricing options, add-on screenings and minimum requirements. These four companies withstood each round of our testing.

What to Expect in 2020

As technology and workplace trends evolve, so does the state of background check services. There are a few trends we can expect to change in 2020, primarily regarding social media, independent contractors and continuous monitoring. Whether you are considering using a background check service or not, watch out for these industry changes.

As an employer, you are likely looking for the most cost-effective way to validate your potential employees' history, so it may be tempting to forgo a costly background check and turn to social media profiles instead. However, you should be wary of this method, as it can leave you open to lawsuits. Social media profiles can reveal protected information (such as race, religion and sexual orientation) and lead to hiring bias. To avoid this, more background check companies are offering legal social media checks as part of their screening services. This will keep you from accidentally viewing protected information.

With gig-economy services like ridesharing and food delivery on the rise, the need for on-demand background checks has risen in tandem. Employers view these freelance workers as extensions of their brands and, therefore, should screen them as they would employees. Since the hiring process for this type of worker tends to be quick, on-demand background check services are often the best option for these employers. We can expect the need for on-demand background checks to rise in 2020.

Another rising background check industry trend to watch in 2020 is continuous monitoring. This allows employers to receive updated background information on their workers after they are hired. This is especially beneficial in transportation industries, keeping companies up to date on their employees' driving records and licensure statuses.

Skye Schooley: Staff
Skye Schooley,
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Skye Schooley is an Arizona native, based in New York City. She received a business communication degree from Arizona State University and spent a few years traveling internationally, before finally settling down in the greater New York City area. She currently writes for business.com and Business News Daily, primarily contributing articles about business technology and the workplace, and reviewing categories such as remote PC access software, collection agencies, background check services, web hosting, reputation management services, cloud storage, and website design software and services.

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How can a business owner ensure they're hiring the right people?
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Sergei Brovkin
Sergei Brovkin
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Leonard, your actual question is likely “Why people leave or become poor performers?” To understand that, you need to determine why they take the job with your company. We could write another leadership book on this together, but here’s a very TL;DR version of what’s already been discovered by some other smart guys. People need a job because of their three basic needs “physiological” (get the means to support oneself and family), “social” (to feel part of a group of fellow human beings),...
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Should background checks be required for potential hires?
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Casey Stanton
Casey Stanton
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I think it depends on the work, Lexi. We don't do background checks on our contractors, but that's because we hire them for their expertise and results. Each hire goes through a testing period, where we try to "break them" by giving them a ton of work. That is our best way to see how they work under pressure and if they're a good culture fit. If someone has a felony for marijuana or some other non-violent crime, I really don't care. We all make mistakes. If they had a violent crime in their...
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