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.

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