Where and How to Get a Background Check

March 11, 2024

In this guide on pre-employment background checks, we will teach you the why, how, and what of background screening. With our help, you’ll be ready to make informed hiring decisions in no time.

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We’ll start with the basics. Background screening verifies the skills of potential new hires. As an employer or Human Resources leader, conducting criminal background checks on future employees is key. It’s the best way to ensure that the people you hire to represent your brand have a clean history and the skills necessary to excel. 

A background check for employment validates a candidate’s credentials, employment history, criminal record, credit score, and more. It identifies red flags and empowers HR to make informed choices. Background reports paint a picture of a job applicant beyond their resume.

In today’s competitive landscape, background screening is pivotal. Let’s jump in and uncover where and how to get a background check.

Why is a Criminal Background Check for Employment Important?

We cannot overstate the importance of a criminal background check for employment purposes. It’s one of the most basic steps in the hiring process. 95% of companies conduct employment screening, according to a study by HR.com and the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA).. Screening determines if a company should trust a job candidate to work in the given role. But it also serves as a crucial step in protecting your workplace by:

Ensuring Safety and Security

Background screening identifies risks that might harm your workplace. This can include a history of violence, lying about an important skillset, a reliance on drugs, etc.


Protecting Company Reputation

Screening candidates ensures you know who you are hiring. If an employee commits a crime, having a clean background check at the point of hire mitigates potential liability. This is a key step to protect your brand image and credibility.


Compliance with Legal Requirements

The government sets screening requirements for some industries and job roles. This ensures the people working in those positions will not take advantage of vulnerable people. Failing to meet these requirements can result in legal action and financial liability.


So, should companies attempt to compile a background report on their own? Generally, no. It can be tempting to find a way to run a free background check. But this might land you in hot water, legally speaking.

Instead, partner with a reputable screening company. These experts follow FCRA rules, ensuring your hiring decisions meet legal standards. This allows you to focus on the hiring process and professionals to focus on compliance.

Where to Get a Criminal Background Check for Employment

There are many ways to conduct background screening. Each method has its advantages, depending on the specific needs of the business. An accredited background screening company is the most thorough, trusted source for pre-employment background checks. Here are your options:

Opting for an accredited provider is best. They are convenient and comprehensive. These companies access vast public records and databases, providing a thorough background report. It saves both time and expense to choose an expert provider. This is the best choice for businesses seeking efficient and detailed record checks. Running a thorough background check through a reputable source ensures your onboarding expenses don’t go to waste.  Look for a provider that offers additional services. These services may include criminal histories, verification of education and employment, drug testing, searching motor vehicle records, and screening social media.

Need more info? Check us out.


Government agencies, such as the FBI or state police departments, offer access to their databases. You can start your search by visiting your local superior court.

However, navigating these agencies can be tough. Without expertise, you may not know what to look for. You may also use information that is not actionable under the law. Ensuring that you’re receiving all required data is crucial, making this option less straightforward for many businesses.


Conducting your check in-house is possible with a lot of resources and expertise. However, this approach also comes with inherent risks. Hiring managers are more likely to overlook critical information or make compliance mistakes. This would impact the accuracy and legality of the background check.

Free online sites and government records may not be sufficient. When running background checks for employment, you need accurate, compliant information provided with quick turnaround times. Rather than try to do it yourself, we recommend partnering with a professional background screening company.

Wondering how to choose the right vendor for your background checks? Check out Choosing a Background Screening Vendor: 6 Questions to Ask. It guides you in selecting the best provider for your needs.



of companies screen part-time employees (HR.com & PBSA)


of employees have stolen from their company (Forbes)

“Negligent hiring suits are expensive, time-consuming, and reputation-damaging. Luckily, performing a standard background check on applicants is a simple way to prevent them.”

Michael Williamson


One third

of Americans have a criminal record
(The Sentencing Project)

How to Get a Criminal Background Check for Employment

With the right screening provider, obtaining a comprehensive criminal background check for employment is easy. It doesn’t slow down the hiring process; it enhances it. Here is what you should expect:


1. Choose a Provider:

Begin by researching and comparing several background check service providers. Evaluate pricing, available services, customer reviews, and their integration capabilities. This step helps in selecting a provider that aligns with your specific needs.


2. Determine the Type of Background Check Needed:

Assess what matters most. Decide this based on your industry, job positions, and the level of risk associated with the roles.


3. Your screening program will vary based on your industry and job roles.

For example, you will check the driving record of a pizza delivery driver, but not of a cashier. The right background check provider can help you outline what works best for your company.


4. Obtain Consent from the Individual:

You must collect the candidate’s consent to run a background check. It’s a legal requirement and an essential step in maintaining transparency. Work with your legal counsel to do this.


5. Provide Necessary Information:

Transmit the candidate’s identifiers to your provider. This usually includes their full name, date of birth, and social security number. Most likely, your background check vendor will offer multiple ways to capture this information. You might do it through ATS integration, a candidate-facing platform, or directly in their background check platform.


6. Review the Results:

Your screening provider will take it from there! Once you receive the background report, review the results and make a hiring decision.

If the report reveals information that makes a candidate ineligible for the job, follow the adverse action process. This ensures compliance with the law if you decide not to proceed with the employment offer. Ask your background check partner if they offer any criteria evaluation tools to make this step simple and streamlined.

Still have questions? Check out our Comprehensive Background Checks Checklist.

What Background Check Services Should We Order?

Choosing the right background check services is key to making informed hiring decisions.

There are a range of background check services to choose from. Which ones do you need? Below, we’ll explain their purpose, the information they provide, and why each is vital to the hiring process.

Criminal Records:

Employers conduct criminal background checks to assess a candidate’s criminal history. These checks reveal past convictions, arrests, and pending charges at county, state, federal, and national levels. We pull the information from public records, databases, and court records.

Occasionally, background screening will require fingerprinting. In this case, the candidate will need to go to a fingerprinting location. But screening companies mostly use a candidate’s personal information like name, birthdate, social security number, and driver’s license. The scope of the search may vary; it’s common for searches to run a history of either 7, 10, or 15 years.

Employment Verifications:

Employment background checks validate a candidate’s employment history, verifying past job positions and the duration of employment. Employers check to confirm job history and ensure applicants have the required work experience.

Education Verifications:

Education background checks confirm a candidate’s education history, including degrees, certificates, and academic achievements. Education verification confirms institutions attended, years graduated, degrees obtained, and more. This service ensures the candidate has the necessary educational background for the role.

Professional License Verifications:

Employers conduct professional license verifications to authenticate any licenses or certifications claimed by the candidate. This verification ensures that the candidate possesses the necessary credentials for the position.

Driving Records:

Several services fall under this category. We obtain driving records through CDLIS searches, MVRs, and driver monitoring. Typically, these services are for DOT positions involving driving responsibilities. These checks help assess a candidate’s driving history and are vital for roles requiring driving.

Credit check:

This reviews a person’s credit history, giving information about their credit score, payment history, and credit reports. Employers may conduct these checks for positions involving financial responsibilities. Employers use credit checks to gauge an applicant’s financial stability and responsibility.

Sanctions Searches:

Sanctions searches use government databases to identify any sanctions or penalties imposed on an individual. Employers conduct these checks to ensure compliance with regulatory bodies.


Other Services:

Ask about SSN searches, Form I-9 and E-Verify, SSA verifications, and social media screening, among others. Read more about InfoMart’s suite of background check services.

Looking for a comprehensive understanding of modern background checks and how they benefit employers? Check out Employment Background Screening for Modern Candidates. It provides insights into the evolving landscape of background screening, offering guidance on the latest trends.


of companies conduct employment screening (HR.com & PBSA)

“Background checks ensure that the candidates you’re hiring can meet the demands of the job. By confirming the work and educational experience of a candidate, you can make more confident hiring decisions. The more confident you are in your hires, the more you can focus on growth.”

Peter Robert

Expert Computer Solutions

Insider assaults are most common in the

banking, insurance, and healthcare industries


Organizations conduct background screening to:

  • Protect employees & customers
  • Improve the quality of hires
  • Protect company reputation
  • Comply with laws & regulations

What to Look for in a Background Check Company

Whether running just a criminal history or a full background check report, you’ll want a background check service provider who meets your needs. Here’s what to look for in a pre-employment background check partner:

  • Proven customer service; if US-based customer service is important to you, be sure to ask
  • Easy integration with your ATS, HCM, or HRIS
  • Fast turnaround times
  • A consultative approach to screening – they offer guidance to enhance your background checks and improve your screening procedures
  • Screening tailored to your industry needs
  • Focus on compliance with legal standards and industry regulations

For more info, explore these questions to ask when choosing a background screening vendor. Or check out these tips for improving your background checks.

Common Questions on How to Do a Background Check

How do you do background checks?

We recommend that companies work with a professional background check service to conduct thorough, compliant screenings.These companies can find information on criminal records, education and employment verifications, credit history checks, and more. The methodology for each service differs. Screening companies use databases, credit history bureaus, direct access to court records, proprietary phone databases, and more.

How do I get a criminal background check in the U.S.?

You should use a professional background screening company. The simplest, most effective way to get a background check is to leave it to the professionals.

What is the best online background check service?

Choosing the best online background check service depends on specific business needs, such as the required scope and level of checks. It’s essential to research and compare providers based on their offered services, accuracy, compliance, and customer reviews. Start with this Comprehensive Background Checks Checklist when comparing providers. We may be biased, but we recommend InfoMart for your background check needs.

What is the most common background check for employment?

Criminal background checks are the most common type of background checks conducted for employment. They provide information about a candidate’s criminal history, including felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic violations, depending on the jurisdiction.

How do I get access to criminal court records?

You can access criminal court records through local courthouses, state repositories, or online databases, depending on the jurisdiction. However, we recommend that employers work with a PBSA-accredited background check company. They keep turnaround times low and help you navigate complex compliance laws. You won’t have to learn how to do a criminal background check on someone; you can focus on other HR tasks.

Is a credit check part of a background check?

Sometimes, an employer will run a credit check, especially for roles involving financial responsibilities. They provide insight into a candidate’s financial stability and responsibility.

Are there any free background checks?

Some online platforms may offer limited free background checks. However, comprehensive and reliable background screening requires the services of a professional screening company, which is not free.

How can I get an FBI background check?

Background checks usually don’t need fingerprints, so choose a skilled provider to avoid unnecessary trouble. If you do need an FBI background check, your screening partner will know what to do.

Does an SSN check show any employment history?

An SSN check provides an address history. We use the address history to determine where to look for criminal history information.

Some SSN products also uncover arrest history. This allows us to check the candidate’s background in places where they were arrested but didn’t live. For example, if the candidate was on vacation or visiting a friend nearby.

What does a criminal background check usually include?

A standard criminal check covers past convictions, arrests, and/or pending charges. It may span various scopes, such as 7, 10, or 15 years, depending on the requirements.


Does a sex offender show up on a background check?

Yes, a criminal background check often includes sex offender registry information. Additionally, a sex offender search is a common part of a criminal background check.

What is the best public record/background check website?

Choosing the best background check website depends on several factors. Consider accuracy, suite of services, compliance, and user reviews when picking a vendor. Research and comparison are essential for identifying the most suitable service. Be sure to understand the reality of background screening and not just common myths about background check organizations.

Who should we screen?

It’s crucial to screen all potential hires. This includes full-time employees, temporary workers, contractors, volunteers, and anyone with access to sensitive company information or customers.

Where and How to Get a Background Check: Final Thoughts

Background screening is important for making good hiring decisions and protecting businesses from risks and liabilities. But hiring managers should always partner with professional organizations specializing in thorough screening. Opt for a reputable company that prioritizes accuracy and compliance. Research and compare providers based on their expertise, range of services, compliance protocols, and customer reviews.

Screening empowers businesses to build a reliable team. By checking criminal records, employment history, educational history, etc., organizations can ensure their workforce is qualified and trustworthy.

Background screening fosters a workplace culture built on transparency and trust. Completing a background check reduces potential risk and cultivates an environment where employees and customers feel secure and confident.

Ready to get started? InfoMart is here to help. Read more about our screening services or request a quote from our team of experts.

Looking for the best criminal background check service around?

Let’s talk.

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