Background check services – should you use them and what to look for

By: Matt | Last updated February 13, 2019
magnifying glass on keyboard background check services

Background check services have grown into a really flourishing market, with countless providers to choose from. Each of them seems to offer a more enticing offer, attractive pricing plans and interesting features. But what exactly is a background check service and what does it do for you?

Well, a background check is pretty much the process of searching and investigating all the major aspects that make up the life of a person or organization: from personal/contact info, education, to financial records, criminal or commercial ones, credit history and more.

Who uses them?

Background checks are mostly requested by employers during the hiring process. This way they can screen the candidates based on the information revealed in the background check report. However, there are a lot of background check services that allow people to simply search for a childhood friend they want to reconnect with, or do a check on a neighbor, co-worker and so on.

Most background check services work based on subscriptions (usually monthly), but some also charge you per report. The information found by these background check services are usually public anyway, but it takes quite some time to dig and compile all of them, which is why this business is still very much profitable.

Nowadays, most of these services are web-based or online. You just set an account with the service you choose and then do all your searches online.

There are of course some strict laws concerning the reports generated by these background check services. The laws differ from state to state, but one thing is clear: you can’t just access or use the information in those reports any way you please. For instance, as an employer, you have to first get the written consent of the candidates, before you perform any background check on them.

What to look for when choosing a background check service

If you decided you need to use such a service, here are some factors to consider when choosing a background check company:

  • How accurate are the reports? It is true, there is no way to know that for sure until you try them yourself, but you can at least do some research on the company, make sure it is reputable and has good ratings when it comes to the accuracy of its reports
  • Choose the types of services you need. Background check companies offer a lot of services, from personal background, criminal check and education to credit reports, drug screening and more. Opt for the ones that are of use to you
  • Speed/turnaround time. It is important to wait as little as possible for your report to be ready. If the check is really thorough and complex, it may take more than a week for the report to be completed, but simpler checks take less time. Choose a company that it is known to be fast
  • Compliance. It is important to verify whether the company you are interested in is accredited by the NAPBS (National Association of Professional Background Screeners), to make sure its services are top-notch.
By: Matt | Last updated February 13, 2019