How it works

Order comprehensive background checks in 4 simple steps.

If you’ve never ordered a background check from us, this page should help make your first time easy. You can do the whole thing in just 4 steps:

The following sections cover each step in detail

STEP 1

Choose the kind of search you want

If you already know what searches you want to order, go on to step 2, below. 

If you’d like help in deciding what kind of search to order, this section will help you decide.

You have 2 basic choices for ordering criminal background checks:

  • An instant criminal database search.
  • A search of criminal records at specific county or federal courts.

When you order one of these searches, you’ll have the option to add any number of specialized searches.

Here’s more information about each of the 2 types of criminal searches.

Instant criminal database search

What is an instant criminal database search?

With one search, you can comb more than 650 million criminal records from counties, department of corrections (DOC), administrative office of courts (AOC), and offender registries from all 50 states, plus Washington DC, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Also included are national and international terrorism sources and more than 10 million photos.

A US OneSEARCH check provides the data you want, the quality you demand, and updates that ensure you get the best possible information.

How fast can you get results for an instant criminal database search?

For instant criminal database searches, you usually receive results in less than 5 minutes.

Search times may sometimes be longer. The process may take from 1 to 5 days if our initial database search find criminal matches for a subject that works in California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota and Indiana, as these states required at-the-source verification of criminal records.

How much does an instant criminal database search cost?

An instant search costs $29.95.

Data Coverage Map

Click on the map to access our interactive coverage pages. They provide detailed descriptors of the state, county, and local sources in our database.

Ony SOR data available
DOC + SOR Only
DOC + SOR + counties
Statewide Records + SOR + Other state sources and counties (if available)
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Choose a county to see if it is covered in our database...
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Criminal search of county court records

What is a criminal search of county court records?

For the most thorough check of a subject’s criminal record, you will want to check county criminal court records.

County courts maintain records of most felony and misdemeanor cases.

These courts are sometimes slow to share updates of their criminal records. As a result, some county court records may be more up to date than our national criminal database.

If you like, you can specify that you want your search to include one county or all U.S. counties.

For a thorough criminal search, we suggest you to include one or multiple US counties where your subject has lived in the past 7 years.

How fast can you get results from a search of county court records?

For county-level information not stored in our electronic database, we can typically return reports in 1 to 3 business days.

The amount of time it takes will vary from state to state and from county to county.

How much does it cost to order a county search?

County-level criminal searches cost $12 per county, plus applicable court fees. Court fees vary by jurisdiction and range from $0 to $90.

You can order a bundled county search at a big discount. An instant criminal database search and a search of all counties costs $64.95 if you order our Instant Criminal + All counties package.

STEP 2

Set up your new account with backgroundchecks.com

You may not need to go through the standard process of registering for an account at backgroundchecks.com before you place your first order.

Here’s how to know if you can fast track an order without first setting up an account

You don't need to create an account if you fit both of these conditions:

  • You need nothing more than a criminal search or a standard search package.
  • You already have an authorization and release from the person on whom you want the search to be done.

In this case, you can immediately order one of our standard packages without first creating an account. We’ll automatically create an account for you when you place your order.

The authorization and release from your candidate is required by law. You’ll learn more about it in the section What approvals will I need to place an order? black-arrow-right

When you must set up an account before placing your first order

You must create an account before you place your first order in these situations:

  • You want to order a la carte additional screening services not included in our standard search package, such as employment or education verification or drug screens.
  • You want us to create a custom package for you.
  • You don't yet have an authorization and release form for your candidate  and would like to collect that for you.

After you’ve set up your new account, you can use our applicant self-entry option.

With the candidate self-entry option, you can have us send an invitation for your job applicants to complete a background check for themselves. In that process, we collect the required authorization and release from your candidate.

black-arrow-right If account registration is required for your first order, don't worry. The  process is fast and easy. You can do it all online. 

Why do I need an account?

The registration process is required by law for all providers of background checks.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other laws, you must prove you have a “permissible purpose” to order a background check before you access the content of the reports.

As a Consumer Reporting Agency, backgroundchecks.com is responsible for properly screening, or “credentialing” new customers. We must do this to satisfy several Federal and State legislated responsibilities related to the acquisition, transfer, and retention of public and private consumer information.

Credentialing also helps to eliminate exposure of your company, your employees, and your prospective applicants.

How long does it take to set up an account?

Registration takes about 10 minutes.

What information do I need to set up an account?

To set up an account, you’ll need this information:

  • Your name
  • Your contact information
  • The name of your organization
  • Payment details (Credit card is required.)

As a part of our business credentialing procedures, you’ll be asked to provide a blank copy of the disclosure and authorization form your company will use to collect a subject’s written consent to run a background check.

Is there a registration fee?

Yes. In most cases you will pay a one-time registration fee. If a fee applies, you will see it clearly in the shopping cart during check out.

Why the fee?

When you order reports, we must certify that you are a business with a permissible purpose to request such data. To check your credentials, we have to order verification information from sources that charge us a fee. Our registration fee pays for those charges.

STEP 3

Place your order

What information will I need to start an order?

You’ll need basic information about the subject of your search. Remember, the subject is the person on whom you want a search performed. For pre-employment checks, your subject is your job candidate.

You’ll need this information about the subject:

  • Full name, including first name, middle name, and last name. Also include any maiden name and known aliases.
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number (SSN)
  • Email address of the applicant

You’ll also need this information:

What choices will I be able to make when I place my order?

When you enter your order, you’ll be able to specify these alternatives:

  • What kinds of checks you want to order—an instant database search or a county court search
  • Whether you’ll place the order yourself or have the subject place it
  • Who will pay for the background check—your company or the subject
  • Whether you want to add optional background checks to the basic packages.

Sometimes you may want to have job candidates run their own background checks. This may be a good choice if you have a large number of orders to process fast.

For some jobs, you may also want to have candidates pay for their own background checks.

What approvals will I need to place an order?

Under U.S. federal privacy laws, anyone who requests a criminal background check must secure the written approval of the subject.

We help you secure the necessary approvals in the steps that follow.

What’s the process for placing an order?

The ordering process includes these steps:

  • You fill out an online form. You enter the information about the subject.
  • You enter the kind of check you want to have run—an instant database check or a county criminal search.
  • You specify the counties, if any, for which you want county criminal searches. Our system will recommend counties based on an address history we retrieve using an SSN trace.

Here’s what to expect when you place your order:

01

Use the Order Now button to start the process.

02

You enter the information about the person whose background you’re checking.

03

We run a fast check of the subject’s SSN and verify their prior addresses.

04

If you’re ordering the Instant Criminal+ Local County or Instant Criminal+ All Counties package, we’ll recommend county court criminal searches in and near the counties where the subject has lived.

05

We’ll recommend other optional searches and checks that may be of interest. Before you place your order, you can upgrade to these added searches.

06

We show you the total fee for running the check you’ve chosen.

Before you complete your order, we tell what the expected average turn around time is for each product in your order.

How long will it take to enter my order?

If you have all your information handy, you can typically enter your order in about 2 minutes.

What happens after backgroundchecks.com receives an order?

The next steps vary somewhat, depending on whether you’ve ordered an instant criminal database search or a county criminal search

  • If you opt to use our email invitation system, we email the job candidate to ask them to submit the necessary personal information such as name, DOB and SSN. Otherwise you will enter the information about the subject.
  • If you have invited the candidate, we'll process the order as soon as they have submitted their information and have electronically signed the release and authorization forms.
  • When the report is complete, you receive an email message with a report attached. The report comes in less than 5 minutes if you ordered an instant search.
  • If the report shows the subject has no record of criminal activity, you will have all the information you’ve requested.

If the report shows the subject has a record of criminal activity (or what we call hits), the process may be a little more involved.

If the subject receives a hit in any of 5 states,  we must perform further checks through local county court records to verify the information at the source.

Such county court checks are necessary in California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, and Indiana.

The amount of time needed for these checks varies from county to county. It typically ranges from 1 to 5 days.

As soon as we receive verification from the county courts, you receive an email with a report of the results.

If you ordered one or more county criminal searches, this happens:

  • For counties where you’ve ordered county criminal searches, we execute them immediately after we’ve received the subject’s approval.
  • Some counties return their court search results almost instantly. For some counties, the process can take from 1 to 5 days.
  • You receive an email with the results of those searches as soon as we receive them from the county courts.

If the subject places an order for the background check, these things happen next:

  • We send an email notification to the subject. The email includes a link to a web page where the subject can place their order.
  • The subject places the order.
  • If you want the subject to pay for the report, he or she does so.
  • When the reports are ready, your designated recipients receive an email with the reports.
STEP 4

Review report and make FCRA notification if needed.

As you’ve seen here and on other pages of this website, U.S. federal law provides protections to the privacy rights of individuals.

Among those protections, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) shields job applicants against possible misinformation in databases used to generate background checks.

FCRA protections define a process called adjudication. FCRA adjudication protects the rights of job candidates through specific measures.

Specifically, job candidates are entitled to:

  • Know when information in a background check has led to an employer’s decision not to hire them.
  • Know specifically what information caused the employer’s decision not to hire.
  • Know their rights under the FCRA.
  • Request that the employer provide the candidate a reasonable opportunity to explain or dispute any alleged misinformation in the reports.

The FCRA defines the terms adverse decision or adverse action. The terms apply to an employer’s decision not to hire a candidate because of information in a background check.

Before an employer makes an adverse decision, the FCRA requires the employer to provide the candidate with a written pre-adverse notice.

The pre-adverse notice includes specific required elements. It must:

  • Tell the candidate of an employer’s intended adverse decision.
  • Share a copy of the background check that led the employer to consider their adverse decision.
  • Provide a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Offer the candidate a reasonable opportunity to explain or dispute alleged misinformation in the background check.

After following a process the FCRA defines in detail, the employer can send the candidate an adverse notice. The adverse notice informs the candidate of an employer’s decision not to hire.

Through backgroundchecks.com you can automate the steps in providing electronic copies of the pre-adverse and adverse notices. For more on this process, see the page on this website Electronic Adverse Action Notices. black-arrow-right