How to Choose the Right Background Check Company for Your Business

Searching for the right background check company for your business is dizzying. The list of choices seems endless. Boutique companies. Online vendors. FBI fingerprints. Comprehensive checks. Social media screeners. International providers. Big name national players with thousands of clients. Home grown CRAs  (Consumer Reporting Agencies)  that tailor to specific niches. Those that promise ‘instant results.’


Relax. We totally understand where you’re coming from. As a business owner, you have several priorities:

  • Field a strong workforce
  • Keep your workplace safe
  • Maintain your budget
  • Improve (or maintain) your business’ reputation

Background checks should help ease some of that burden, not add to it. But finding a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) who is technically qualified and produces accurate screening results within your budget can be tough, though.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of features to help you choose the right background check company for your business. These tips will help you understand the screening industry in general, and how to look for specific qualities and strategies that will best suit your needs.

Understand the Difference Between a Full-Service Firm and an Online Provider

It’s easy to get swept up in the convenience of a website-only screening provider. They are often cheaper and claim to provide ‘instant results.’ Two things here: cheaper doesn’t mean better (and it certainly doesn’t indicate accuracy), and there is no such thing as ‘instant results.’ In fact, most comprehensive background checks takes 48 hours to complete.

Here’s a breakdown of the major differences between these two types of providers.

A full-service firm such as Active Screening must comply with Fair Credit Reporting Act law and is given tough oversight by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Trade Commission to ensure this happens. Many online providers do not comply with FCRA and aren’t watched as carefully. Full-service firms are the ONLY screening companies you should choose for background checks as they will be within the confines of the law. 

A full-service firm conducts background checks on your behalf and works with you to make sure all the consenting paperwork is completed legally. If they’re anything like Active Screening, they have a team of researchers, including boots-on-the-ground court runners, who compile a comprehensive background report on your candidate. This can take a couple of days. Online providers mostly operate under a DIY system that churns out those so-called ‘instant results.’  Accuracy is an after thought and they don’t walk you through FCRA compliance in terms of getting consent before running a check.

Online providers are less expensive, but you get what you pay for.

Accreditation by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners

This is a big one. The NAPBS isn’t just a stamp of approval that any CRA can get. A company has to demonstrate its worthiness. Case in point: Active Screening had to show its compliance with 58 clauses covering topics like ‘Data Security’ and ‘Client Education.’ It’s pass/fail. Only then does the auditing process begin. Translation? Accredited firms deliver quality that’s unrivaled by other non-accredited companies.

When it comes to compliance, no one performs better than an NAPBS accredited screening company. These federal and state laws are extensive and ever-expanding. There is almost NO WAY you can stay on top of all these laws and nuances but you are guaranteed that an accredited agency is doing just that and will continue to do so in the future. Furthermore, accredited agencies in conjunction with NAPBS, are committed to ensuring lawmakers understand the screening industry and its challenges and work together to enhance the industry for end users.

Do They Take Privacy Seriously?

You can have the latest and greatest technologies in data storage and encryption, but if you haven’t properly vetted, trained and educated your employees, nor have you implemented a standard operating procedure when it comes to handling Personal Identifiable Information (PII), then it’s all for naught.

PII is like your thumbprint, entirely your own, irreplaceable, and crucial to your identity.  Your PII is this:

• Full name

• Birthday and birthplace

• Social Security Number (SSN)

• Vehicle registration plate number

• Driver’s license number

• Credit card number

• National identification number

This information is the building block to any background check. Once it heads off shore, so do US privacy and security laws. That’s why it’s imperative that your firm use a background screening company who has pledged to keep all data in-house, or at least on US soil. With an accredited screening company like Active Screening, you are assured of our commitment to, and excellence in, protecting your sensitive information.

How Well Do They Listen to You?

Not every full-service firm is the right fit for every business. For example, what if you’re a Vacation Bible School looking to expand and you need more staff and volunteers? It would probably be best to work with a full-service firm like Protect My Ministry (an Active Screening company) who understands ministries and the unique issues they face, like keeping children safe from sexual predators. Or, what if you have a youth sports league that’s gearing up for a huge tournament and you need to employ dozens more referees? Then a full-service firm like Protect Youth Sports (an Active Screening company) is probably your best bet because it has effectively handled situations like this in the past.

The point is that you should interview any full-service firm before signing on with them to make sure the team working behind the scenes is best-suited to your needs. And when you do sign on with a CRA, please remember that they work for you and should be available to you at any time. Active Screening offers full resolution to most of your needs within 8 business hours and promises to respond to your requests within 4 business hours. Beyond that, we offer a live call center and extended support hours. We’re also really proud to offer live chat support so you can ‘speak’ with an Active Screening team member straight from your computer.

How did you choose your CRA? We’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below and Tweet about it here.

This entry was posted in Applicant-Entry Solutions, Background Screening, General, Global Solutions, Human Resources, Industry Solutions, News, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.