The Top Background Check Services — 2023

The best pre-employment background check services, pricing, pitfalls and more

Chris Hatler
HR tech researcher, writer and editor

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The Top Background Check Providers

Hand picked by our HR Technology experts after product testing, user research, and much debate - enjoy!

Checkr's mission is fair hiring. It uses cutting edge background screening technology to produce clear, actionable results in a short span of time. It not only ensures compliance under the FCRA, but also shows exactly where the candidate stands.
Certn's slick user interface can reduce your hiring time by 80%. In fact, it only takes about 15 minutes for workers to get through the screening process. And even if you're hiring internationally, Certn can help verify country-specific documents in a jiffy.
VerifiedFirst has built a simple to use background check product that allows recruiting teams to request checks directly from the ATS via a Chrome extension versus having to login to yet another tool. It’s similarly easy on the employee side as they can complete the process from their phones without having to create a login.
HireRight boasts a 40,000+ customer base that includes nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies. Its USP is that it's a truly global platform and offers both international and local screening features.
When you use EBI, you directly work with their team of experts who understand your processes and workflows. This leads to a highly customized experience and leaves no room for non-compliance.
Lauded for its simplicity, GoodHire is a technology-first company that promises a delightful user experience. It's not only incredibly flexible, but can also provide criminal checks in less than a minute.

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Introduction to Background Check Services

Identity checks, employment history, education and certifications, criminal records, drug testing, the list goes on. When you’re interviewing talent or ready to make an offer to an ideal candidate, you can’t forget about a vital part of your recruiting efforts: running pre-employment background checks. But are you conducting yours the right way and with one of the top background check services?

Background checks ultimately tell you if someone will be a safe hire for your organization, but how you look into their personal records is key. To ensure that you follow all applicable screening laws, you’ll want to use a top employment background screening provider that’s compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Otherwise, a candidate could sue you for not getting hired, or you could be fined by a government agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Using an FCRA-compliant screening provider will help you focus your recruiting efforts on the right candidates, hire with more confidence, stay compliant with the latest screening regulations, and create a safe and more diverse working environment — all while being more productive in your recruiting efforts and creating a more seamless and transparent application process for your candidates.

But you have to choose the right background check service for your company and needs. To help you find the best one for your business, we put together this guide on the top background check providers, plus the common use-cases and features, benefits and considerations, suggested demo questions and implementation help, and more. Get started below.

Our criteria: How we chose the best vendors

We take research seriously. To make sure we’re offering our readers the very best solutions in a given software category, we are methodical, rigorous, and expansive in our research. We consult with HR professionals, vendors, and industry experts. We cut through the noise to bring you a carefully curated list of vendors, along with other essential information, to help you find the right software platform for your business. 

Here’s how we chose who makes the cut: 

Product: We believe in gaining a comprehensive understanding of a product before we recommend it, so we start by getting to know the software. Whenever possible, we meet with a senior executive (CEO or Head of Product) for a demo and Q&A. We also test the product ourselves to make sure it has a solid UI, intuitive workflows, and the features to make it a best-in-class offering. 

User feedback: We go straight to the source and compile feedback on user experience. Real-world input supports our commitment to diligence in our software evaluation methods and the products we recommend. Keeping up with the everyday experience of HR pros also puts new vendors on our radar, and it keeps us close to our community so we can better connect the right products to the right people.

Financial metrics: We are certified finance nerds, so we use all the data we can get our hands on to make selections for our guides. We comb through data for concrete statistics like retention rates, growth, profitability, and scalability. We evaluate the bottom line of each product because we know making a software purchase can put your reputation on the line. 

Best for a use case: Software is never a one-size-fits-all product. Sometimes the best solution is free or cheap. Other times it’s the one that is best for global companies or the one that’s sized right for early-stage startups. Keeping this in mind, we include solutions across the spectrum so our readers can find the best fit for their unique needs.

Here's more detail if you want to read more about how we research vendors. Our dedicated staff writers rely on hard data, impartial experts, and user feedback to ensure our reviews are helpful, truthful, and hopefully a pleasure to read!

Top Background Check Software

We track thousands of HRTech solutions, these are the best background check companies per our research and expert council as of 2023.



A modern UI and a platform that leverages machine learning means that Checkr is making the hiring process easier on both HR and applicants.  Their customer base includes companies like Uber, Warby Parker, and Instacart.



The pricing of Checkr’s plans and services isn’t disclosed on their site. There are two ways to get started - directly through their site or by talking to a Checkr sales representative for a demo and a price quote according to the size and needs of your business. They offer your first background check free when you sign up directly through the site.

The pricing of Checkr's plans and services isn't disclosed on their site. There are two ways to get started - directly through their site or by talking to a Checkr sales representative for a demo and a price quote according to the size and needs of your business. They offer your first background check free when you sign up directly through the site.

Best For

Businesses of all sizes across different industries.

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Certn is a newer entry to the pre-employment screening company.  They were founded by data scientists and have built a next generation tech stack that allows them to process background checks in record time with competitive pricing.  Additionally, they allow for international background checks, and customized checks for different types of employees.



Each of Certn’s screening services is priced separately at a flat fee for employers that conduct 50 or fewer checks a year. For employers that conduct more than 50 checks a year, custom pricing can be provided by Certn’s sales team. Visit Certn’s pricing page to learn more.

Each of Certn's screening services is priced separately at a flat fee for employers that conduct 50 or fewer checks a year. For employers that conduct more than 50 checks a year, custom pricing can be provided by Certn's sales team. Visit Certn's pricing page to learn more.

Best For

Businesses of all sizes across different industries.

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Verified First is a background screening tool that allows you to conduct a variety of background checks before hiring an employee. It covers criminal background checks, drug screening, civil records check, Form I-9 verification, E-verify verification, identity verifications, and driving record checks - eliminating any need to supplement it with other background check software or services.



Verified First tailors their pricing based on the number of checks that you conduct or the number of hires. As such, their pricing is not listed on the website, but you can reach out to a Sales representative for a custom quote. The Sales rep will also be able to provide you with a live demo of the software on demand.

The pricing of VerifiedFirst's plans and services isn't disclosed on their site. Contact a VerifiedFirst sales representative for a demo as well as a price quote according to the size and needs of your business.

Best For

Verified First would best suit a mid to large-sized large organization that hires hundreds or thousands of employees a year.

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HireRight conducts background checks in over 200 countries across the globe and has worked with over 40,000 companies including many of the Fortune 500.



The pricing of HireRight’s plans and services isn’t disclosed on their site. Contact a HireRight sales representative for a demo as well as a price quote according to the size and needs of your business.

The pricing of HireRight's plans and services isn't disclosed on their site. Contact a HireRight sales representative for a demo as well as a price quote according to the size and needs of your business.

Best For

Companies of all sizes across different industries.

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Simply put, EBI is one of the largest players in this space and has been for some time.  They have the experience and integrations to service even the largest companies’ needs when it comes to pre-employment checks.



The pricing of EBI’s plans and services isn’t disclosed on their site. Contact an EBI sales representative for a demo as well as a price quote according to the size and needs of your business.

The pricing of EBI's plans and services isn't disclosed on their site. Contact an EBI sales representative for a demo as well as a price quote according to the size and needs of your business.

Best For

EBI serves companies of all sizes across different industries.

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GoodHire services over 80,000 companies through their background check platform.  HR teams can use this for simple one off screens, or build out more custom workflows via their API that supports a range of screens like criminal, drug, driving, and credit checks.



Each of GoodHire’s screening services is priced separately at a flat fee for employers that conduct 25 or fewer checks a year. For employers that conduct more than 25 checks a year, custom pricing can be provided by GoodHire’s sales team. Visit GoodHire’s pricing page to learn more.

Each of GoodHire's screening services is priced separately at a flat fee for employers that conduct 25 or fewer checks a year. For employers that conduct more than 25 checks a year, custom pricing can be provided by GoodHire's sales team. Visit GoodHire's pricing page to learn more.

Best For

Employers of all sizes looking for a comprehensive candidate screening solution.

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Benefits and use cases for Background Check Services

There are a variety of checks you might need to run on a potential employee and the actual screens you need depend on a variety of factors, such as your industry, location, where a candidate is from, and more. These screens are done from many different public records as well as court records, consumer reporting agencies, and a variety of other databases that a top screening provider will get relevant information from. In general, you can expect the following checks to be covered by a screening provider:

  • Criminal history: Criminal background checks are run through a multi-jurisdictional database search, where records are pulled from a variety of sources: county and state court records, upper and lower court records, departments of corrections, sex-offender databases, the federal district court system, even Homeland Security. In some cases, fingerprinting will be required as part of the criminal background check.
  • Credit check: This isn’t about checking someone’s credit score. Instead, running credit checks will help confirm a candidate’s identity because name and address history is pulled. Typically this will work by asking for the job seeker's social security number, and running it through a consumer reporting agency.
  • Drug screening: Depending on the provider, drug screening will be done through a service like Quest Diagnostics or eScreen, or a candidate will do an at-home test on their own.
  • Motor vehicle report: Look up driver records with the relevant DMVs. You’ll find information on license status and class, convictions, violations and infractions. This is especially helpful if you’re hiring someone who will be driving for your company, for example, as a delivery person.
  • Background screening: Verify education and work history, personal and professional references, professional licenses, and more. Basically, make sure there aren't any inaccuracies on a potential hire's resume.
  • Executive investigations: If you’re hiring a new CEO, getting a new board member, or considering an M&A partner, for example, you can run an executive investigation to make sure there are no red flags. Things that could be picked up include conflicts of interest, past criminal activity, connections to financial or organized crime, misuse of material information, and more.
  • Random drug screening program: If your employees get random drug tests throughout the year, a reporting agency can manage the administrative side of things, like keeping records, sending you reminders, and even providing a randomized list of employees to drug test at a given time.
  • Online Screening: Social media profiles, and generally what comes up on a Google search are easy enough for a recruiter or hiring manager to run. That said, some of these offerings will look into a person's online presence for red flags.
  • Ongoing Screening: Set up alerts on new hires and/or your existing workforce to ensure you’re maintaining a safe, risk-free working environment.

All of these screens are designed to aid your hiring process to weed out candidates that won't make it down your hiring funnel early, or ensure you make the right final decision on who to hire.

Pro Tips on Top Background Check Providers

Considerations & Common Mistakes on Background Checks

While many background check sites are similar, not all are created equal. For example, not all companies that run background checks are FCRA-compliant. Some focus on certain industries or records. Some take longer than others to produce results. Some may be focused on small businesses in your area. To make sure you choose the right provider for your company and needs, consider these best practices and common mistakes:

  • Compliance. We said earlier that a provider’s compliance status is of utmost importance. When looking into a vendor’s compliance practices, make sure they also have a robust compliance department that continuously monitors regulatory changes to make sure their screening processes remain above board, include the most updated forms, etc.
  • Cost and time. You obviously have to factor in your budget — that goes for both cost and time. We go into pricing below, but at a high level, you should figure out how many positions you’re hiring for. This will give you a sense for how many background checks you’ll likely have to run, and thus how much to budget for them. When it comes to time, you want to understand how long a vendor takes to give you the results of a background check. A quick turnaround time is super important, especially because you don’t want your top candidate to get a job somewhere else. That said, if a check is too fast, it could be a bad thing, which leads us to our next consideration…
  • You DON’T want near-instant results. If results are issued too quickly, chances are the vendor is not FCRA-compliant and/or you aren’t getting all results. For example, if a check only takes a few minutes, you like aren’t getting data from the county-level criminal system. In general, you should expect to get results from a compliant provider within 24-48 hours.
  • Keep a consistent process. Conduct the same background checks for EVERY candidate to keep things fair and consistent. For example, if you background check someone with a tattoo in a different way than someone without a tattoo, it’s discimination and could open you up to a lawsuit.
  • Not all “hits” are criminal so you need human review, too. Did you know that 1 in 6 people get a “hit” on their screen? This could be for something as simple as a speeding ticket or a very minor misdemeanor. A fingerprint could just mean someone was arrested, not guilty of a crime. To make sure you are accurately interpreting results, you need to have an actual person look at the results to determine the criminal nature, if any.
  • Have a person check “clear” reports, too. The same way you’d look at a criminal report to better understand the findings, you want someone to also look at a report that is considered clear. There are varying degrees of what will be a “hit” — plus, there can be false positives and false negatives. Running a human check of all results will ensure that you have the best and most accurate picture of someone’s background, and make judgement calls on things like a blemished credit report.
  • Small Businesses: If you're a small business, it may be the case that you want a local background check service to help you vet potential hires and that can be fine especially if they have a focus on your type of hire. Larger organizations clearly need the flexibility to acquire background reports on potential hires from multiple countries, and the ability to select if they want to see a bespoke combination of court records, driving records, etc.
  • A 7-10 year lookback is best practice. It is standard practice to run a background check as far back as 7-10 years. In fact, some states restrict reporting on criminal cases that are older than seven years.
  • Other restrictions. In some states, you aren’t allowed to access certain personal information. If you’re unsure about what you can (and cannot) legally obtain, consult a lawyer who is familiar with your state employer and reporting laws.

If you have questions about these considerations or others, make sure to ask them on your demo. For more guidance on how to make the most of your demo, continue to our next section.

Benefits and ROI from Pre-Employment Screening Services

Running background checks is a win-win for your company. Not only are you ensuring a safer work environment, you’re also making the hiring process more efficient by using a screening provider to run the checks you need, when you need them.

But that’s not all. Here is a full list of benefits you can expect from using a background checks vendor:

  • Improve recruiter productivity: The top background check vendors we’ve featured in this guide pride themselves on making a recruiter’s job easier. After all, their solutions are designed to reduce the time-consuming administrative tasks associated with running background checks and even onboarding new hires. More technology means faster access to the right records, digitized versions of necessary tax and onboarding forms (like direct deposit, emergency contact, etc.), and more. What’s more, knowing if someone is hireable early in the process means you’re not wasting your time — or a candidate’s.
  • Stay compliant: The last thing you want to do is violate any labor laws that could result in a lawsuit or a government fine. Using FCRA-compliant screening providers ensures that you’re using the right practices to hire the right people for your company.
  • Keep a safe working environment. Background checks tell you if someone is a known criminal, sex-offender, or even a terrorist — or if they’re not. This means you’ll only hire people who do not pose a risk to the safety of your company and people.
  • Better hiring overall. Not only can you move more quickly through the hiring process by only focusing on the right candidates, but you’ll have more inclusive hiring as well. After all, you’ll be running the same checks on EVERYONE, thereby eliminating any bias or human error that might otherwise cause someone to be overlooked.
  • Improve candidate experience and conversion. With simple forms, mobile-friendly options, and real-time updates, candidates will have a better application and hiring experience. As a result, they’ll be more inclined to accept an offer.

To help you calculate how all these benefits translate to a positive return on investment, check out our ROI calculator for reference checks tools. It covers a variety of key points, including:

  • How to measure increases in recruiter productivity
  • How faster hiring affects your organization
  • How software tools can decrease large agency fees to save you money

Background Check Pricing

What to budget for your background check needs depends on a number of variables, including the actual records you need, how many pulls you’ll need in a year, etc. As a result, most vendors create custom pricing packages based on your specific needs. So you could either be charged per report (some can be as low as $5-$10, but they are usually around $30) or get a bundled plan where the standard per-report fee is discounted.

Keep in mind that you might also be charged fees to access certain data. For example, county fees can range from a few cents to $100.

Make sure to ask about how pricing works during your demo. Background check sits will also modify pricing for volume and a steady flow of requests, so make sure to get on the phone with someone and lock in a better rate if you are going to be a regular customer.

Features: What You Can Expect from Background Checks Software

Here are some of the key features you need to take a deeper look at when you talk to vendors.

  • Compliance. Arguably the most important feature of any provider in this space is their FCRA compliance. If they’re not FCRA compliant, you cannot legally use them for candidate screening. If you find a provider that is also accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), you can rest-assured that the data they pull is accurate and compliant — after all, they must adhere to strict guidelines in order to get this accreditation in the first place. Other compliances to check for are EEOC and Ban-the-Box:
  • EEOC: Eliminate any biases around race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability, age or genetic information.
  • Ban-the-Box: While you’ll want to know about any criminal records a candidate has, Ban-the-Box is an initiative to remove the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record from hiring applications. Again, this removes biases and allows you to run a criminal background check later in the process.
  • Technology. These days, you can expect screening providers to be more technology-focused, so the overall screening process is more streamlined and digitized (read: less paperwork for you and your job applicants!). Depending on the provider you choose, you’ll benefit from the following tech features:
  • Integration with ATS and other HR-programs. With an ATS-integration, data collected from background checks is automatically stored in your ATS. This includes information like previous employers, education history, criminal history. You’ll be able to easily access ALL candidate information from one location, thereby reducing administrative processing time or potential data entry errors if you manually added the findings to an ATS record. Some providers, like Verified First, even let you screen a candidate from the ATS via a chrome extension.
  • Mobile-optimized. Candidates can access their screens right from their mobile devices. What’s more, you could have the ability to text job seekers in addition to emailing them.
  • One-click login. No need for a username or password.
  • Real-time reporting. The last thing you want to get from a background check is outdated information. Those that offer real-time reporting will give you nearly up-to-the-minute results so you’ll know you’re getting the most accurate information on a candidate’s background.
  • Log of candidate communications. Keep track of your communications with a candidate in case there is ever an issue that requires an audit.
  • Ability to send 613 notice to candidates. The “613 notice” refers to section 613 of the FCRA, which says that, if a potential criminal record is found, the reporting agency (i.e the candidate assessment tool you choose) must notify both the candidate and the company (i.e. you) of the findings. The 613 notice (also referred to as the 613 letter), is the update the reporting agency sends to the job applicant letting them know they found potentially adverse information and shared it with the hiring company.
  • Streamlined onboarding. Many reporting agencies provide digital versions of Form I9, E-verify and other tax and onboarding forms, including direct deposit forms, emergency contact info, etc. This makes things easier (and less paperwork-heavy) for you and your new hire.
  • Global reach: Some screening providers (like Sterling and Certn) collect relevant background records from up to 200 countries, so if you typically hire candidates internationally, you can easily take care of their background checks, too.
  • Customer Support: If you or a candidate have any questions about a particular step in the background check process, you’re going to want to reach out to someone who can help when you actually need it. That way the process won’t be unnecessarily delayed. Look for a provider with a reliable customer support team — one with agents who are available by phone, email and/or chat during and outside normal business hours.

Demo Questions: What to Ask During Your Demo

Demos are a great way to see how these vendors actually work. If you’re well-prepared, you’ll come out of a demo with a firm understanding of a company’s processes, capabilities and shortcomings. Not only that, you’ll likely know if they’ll be a fit for your company or not.

To ensure you’re not wasting any time on your demos, prepare a list of questions specific to your screening needs as well as the use-cases and features that matter most to you. To get you started, we’ve compiled two sets of questions below — the first includes more general questions you should ask when considering any third-party vendor, the second is specific to background screening providers.

General questions:

  • How will this solution fit into the rest of my tech stack? What integrations do I need?
  • How will others in the organization use this solution?
  • What are the key features I want to ask about?
  • What are the things that would make me nervous about buying this sort of solution?
  • How does pricing work?
  • What implementation guidelines do they suggest?

Specific to Reference Checks

  • Where do you get data on candidates from?
  • Do you operate in all the states I employ people?
  • How do you stay on top of regulatory changes?
  • What is the candidate workflow?
  • What is the HR workflow (looking for ease of use for your hiring team)?
  • How fast do checks take?
  • What PII do you collect?
  • How do you ensure PII is safe?
  • How do you use PII to conduct your search?
  • Do you get county level data for criminal checks?
  • Do you collect MVR (motor vehicle report) data?
  • Do you include arrests and convictions?
  • Can we batch order reports?
  • Is screening performed by people in the US? If not, how is data privacy protected?


Many of these vendors are easy to set up. In fact, you should be able to start screening candidates right away. If you plan to integrate with your ATS or another platform in your HR tech stack, then you’ll have to wait to start screening applicants.

When you have your demo with your vendor(s) of choice, make sure to talk about their specific implementation process, how the ATS integrations work, what is required on your end, etc. If it sounds like a big job, make sure you get the right teams on board (for example, IT) so everyone is on the same page and you can get up and running as quickly as possible.

Background Check Services FAQs

What is a background check?

A background check is the process employers go through to make sure that prospective candidates are a safe hire. This is achieved through drug screening, credit checks, motor vehicle reports, criminal history checks, and more.

What is background check software?

Background check software are solutions designed to streamline the background check process through automation, useful apps, and quick-to-respond customer service.

What are the benefits of background check software?

Benefits of background check software include quicker time-to-hire, lower cost-to-fill, safer hires, and a streamlined process.

What pitfalls come with background check software?

When using background check software, beware of the following pitfalls:double check compliance, factor in budget, beware of near-instant results, double check criminal history to weed out small misdemeanors like parking tickets, and look back at least 7 - 10 years.

Final Advice on Background Check Services

At the end of the day, running background checks with an FCRA-compliant vendor is a great way of making sure you hire the right people, create a safe (and more diverse) working environment, improve candidate retention, and gain competitive edge over other employers. If you'd like to know more about the actual do's and don'ts of performing background checks during the screening process, you can complement this reading with Springworks' employee background check guide.

And as a last note, you may have noticed that none of the vendors in this guide run social media checks to help you gauge a person’s character or judgment. This is because using social media to run a background check is risky — and not always legal. That said, if you’re still interested in adding social media checks to your background screening process, make sure you do it the right way.

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