Where and How To Get a Criminal Background Check

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

September 12 2022

Background checks verify the credentials of potential new hires. As an employer or Human Resources leader, conducting criminal background checks on future employees is an excellent way to ensure that the people you hire to represent your company’s brand have a clean history, as well as the attitude and skills necessary to excel in their roles. 

However, not all background screening services will give you the complete picture you need to make informed hiring decisions. The many options that appear on your internet searches, including those for free background checks, can mislead you into choosing a background check solution that could cost your company time and money.

Read on to discover how to get a background check for employment that’s reliable and FCRA-compliant.


How to Get a Background Check for Employment

You can run a background check through several different sources, but an accredited background screening company is the most thorough, trusted source for pre-employment background checks. When deciding how to get a background check, consider the other costs of onboarding. While it might be tempting to cut costs using free online sources, these websites access outdated or incomplete information. Plus, they do not build compliance into their systems, putting your company at risk of costly legal issues. Running a thorough background check through a reputable source ensures your onboarding expenses don’t go to waste.

Here are the places you can go to get background checks along with tips on how to find the best background screening provider for your company’s unique needs.


Attempt a Free Online Search

The internet is full of free online background check sites, but they are rarely what they seem. Not all state and municipal courthouses share their records online, so  the information you receive from free searches is likely pulled from outdated databases. If this happens, the final report you receive will be missing crucial pieces of an employee’s history, such as recent criminal infractions. These online searches also frequently misreport criminal records on people who do not have a record, which could cost you an excellent new hire. Using faulty information for hiring decisions will have legal repercussions on your company. A professional background screening partner helps you to manage complex compliance regulations to prevent this from happening.


Go to the County Superior Court, State Superior Court, or Sheriff’s Office

You can start your search by visiting your local superior court. The court clerk or any centralized office of law enforcement will likely provide you a criminal record search report for that county, as infractions should be archived and accessible. Note that the office clerk may charge a fee to conduct the search.

However, this criminal search will be limited to the county of that court’s office. If criminal activity occurred in another county, it will be undiscoverable. Make sure you visit the correct offices when starting your search.

In many cases, a county search isn’t sufficient to perform a successful background search, so widen your scope to include multiple counties. For this type of criminal search, go to the State Bureau of Investigation.

The State Bureau of Investigation searches for all crimes committed in your state. However, not all of the state’s departments of public safety, police forces, and courts contribute criminal record information to a centralized state database. As such, though this type of search will give you a broader search than a county court, it will still offer a limited snapshot of your candidate’s criminal history.


Use a Third-Party Background Check Service

Though criminal searches are easily accessible through free online sites and government record sources, they likely will not meet your needs as an employer. When running background checks for employment, you need accurate, compliant information provided with quick turnaround times. Third-party screening services offer numerous additional services that government services and free searches cannot provide to aid in making the process of hiring easier.

When deciding where to get a criminal background check, look for a partner who also provides services like employee monitoring, education and employment verifications, drug testing, motor vehicle record searches, and social media screening.

Third-party background check companies provide accurate, thorough criminal record searches. You want to ensure you find all criminal records associated with your applicant; however, it’s crucial to know the records you find are truly associated with your candidate and not someone else. With the expertise and experience needed to understand the depth and reliability of criminal record sources, professional screening companies have you covered.

Background screening companies handle criminal history checks from all levels and databases across multiple states. They can also provide drug tests, credit checks, social media searches, and other reliable resources for vetting your potential job candidate. Third-party background check vendors even have the resources necessary to conduct post-hire screening.

The best background screening partners will also offer additional benefits, like integration with your ATS/HCM, mobile onboarding technology, and stellar customer service.


Find the Right Service

By knowing the criminal history of potential employees, you mitigate risk for your company. Hiring decisions make or break a company, so get to know your top candidates by vetting them thoroughly.

In some cases, you only need criminal information for a background check for employment, but it’s necessary to be prepared for the times when you need a more thorough screening process. That’s why choosing a credible third-party background check company is worth it.

With over 30 years of experience in the industry and a team of FCRA-certified professionals, InfoMart is the solution to receiving the screening services you need. We understand that companies of all different sizes and industries have unique problems, which is why we tailor our screening solutions to fit each individual company’s needs.

Wondering where to start? Get reliable pre-employment background checks from us. Reach out to an InfoMart sales representative today or read more about our services here.

I would love to hear from you and connect; add me on LinkedIn to keep in touch.

The Comprehensive Background Checks Checklist

Whether you need to screen thousands of employees or small business background checks better fit your needs, it’s likely time to review your background screening process.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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