Please review our candidate FAQs below before reaching out via the contact form on this page.
In Preparation of Screening
What type of information is included in a background check?
Every employer has specific background screening requirements based on their industry, regulations, and type of positions they hire for. Most employment background checks include a criminal record search to determine if the candidate has been convicted of a crime. Other common requirements may include: driving records, drug testing, and education, employment, and credential verifications.
How do I prepare for my background check?
Before a prospective employer or staffing agency starts your background check, you’ll need to sign a written authorization for the background check. Without written consent, the employer or staffing agency is in violation of a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) law specifically written to protect your rights as a consumer. While every company has specific background screening criteria, you’ll likely be asked for your full legal name, any aliases, current address, date of birth, and social security number. Other information often requested is your driver’s license number, educational background (institution attended, dates, degree earned, etc.), and past employment history (name of former employers, dates of employment and position) — plus information such as passport information or ID cards for history outside of the U.S.
What if I can’t remember every detail about my past employment or education?
Please provide as much accurate information as possible. We will compare the information you provide with the information the past employer or academic institution provides. For temporary or contract work, please list the company that paid you directly rather than where you performed the service.
What if a company I used to work at has gone out of business?
You may be asked to provide documentation supporting past employment, such as W2 or IRS Tax documents, company pay stubs, or an employment offer letter.
What if I am or have been self-employed?
If you are or were self-employed, Sterling may ask you to provide Form 1099-MISC (Contractors), Form 1099-K, or IRS Schedule C/ K-1, among others.
How do you protect my privacy?
Sterling takes privacy very seriously. We respect the privacy of our visitors, employees, clients, and clients’ employees and candidates. We aim to collect, use, disclose, and retain personal information online in accordance with your expectations and the law. Read our privacy statement for details.
How do I ask a question about my specific background check?
We’ve got answers to your questions about screening and background checks. Please contact us via one of the following methods or use the contact form on this page. Don't know which one applies to you? No problem. Please check with your referring employer or partner.
How long does it take to complete my background check?
Although 90% of Sterling’s criminal checks are complete within one day (following credentialing), there are several extenuating circumstances that cause delays in the process – such as the availability of records or unresponsiveness by past employers or academic institutions. For most education and employment verifications, the average turnaround time is three to five business days, but can be highly variable and depends on the responsiveness of the organization. You will have the opportunity to dispute any discrepancies and Sterling will re-investigate the results, which can also extend timing.
How far back do background checks go?
Sterling works with employers to provide historical background information based on applicable state and local laws.
How can I check the progress of my background check?
Sterling is committed to simplify how candidates engage throughout the screening process from start to final hiring decision. Our candidate experience offers engaging, time-saving features that streamline the data collection process — all with an easy-to-use, mobile-responsive design.
If we need more information from you, you’ll receive a text or email request with a link where you can directly upload scans or photos of the requested documents.
If it has been more than one week from when you completed the data collection process, you can contact Sterling to check the progress of your background check. Please contact us via one of the following methods or use the form below.
What are verifications and how long does it take to complete?
Verifications are the confirmation of a candidate’s educational background, job history, and other credentials. Turnaround times (TAT) vary based on the source of the information. Technology, reporting rules and regulations of an organization, and the method of fulfillment are common factors that can impact the time needed to complete a verification search.
Most of Sterling’s education, employment, credentials, and reference verifications are completed within three to five days. While 70% of Department of Transportation (DOT) verifications typically close in five days, DOT employers can take up to 30 days to return results per law/regulations.
What if I submitted incorrect information?
Once you submit the required information, Sterling is unable to make changes. Please contact your Sterling contact, HR representative, or hiring manager, and ask them to launch a separate order with the correct details. Then, you will receive an email to complete the details correctly.
Will someone contact me if there’s a problem with my background check?
If additional information is required from you, you’ll hear from either the employer requesting the background check or from Sterling directly.
What is a drug test and how long does it take to complete?
A drug test is an examination — typically of a urine, hair, blood, or oral fluid sample — to determine the presence or absence of specific drugs or metabolized drug traces. Most drug test results are completed in. We strongly encourage you to contact sites prior to testing to confirm appointment availability, wait times, and hours of operation. Please contact Sterling at 800- 853-3228, option 7, for assistance in locating another testing site or use the link provided in your registration email.
What do I bring to a drug test?
First, make sure you have the proper address for the collection center you chose or was assigned to you. You’ll need to bring a legal proof of identity such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, military ID, or green card. In addition to your legal proof of identity, some clinics may require you to bring your electronic or paper chain of custody (CoC) form.
We strongly encourage you to contact sites prior to testing to confirm appointment availability, wait times, and hours of operation. Please contact Sterling at 800-853-3228, option 7, for assistance in locating another testing site or use the link provided in your registration email.
Why did I receive a Public Records Notice(s) and what do I need to do?
The background check that is being performed on you may include public records. No action is needed from you. The notification is sent to you for informational purposes. You may have received more than one letter because the company you authorized to run a background check has initiated more than one report on you. Common examples of public records are professional license verifications, driving records, court records of criminal and/or civil cases, and sanctions searches.
I’ve provided my address history. Why am I being prompted to fill in gaps?
The background check application form requires that the start date and the end date of each address should be a total match.
What if I am or believe that I am a victim of identity theft?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, the victim of identity theft. A brief summary of the rights designed to help you recover from identity theft can be found here. A summary of your rights to place a security freeze on your credit report can be found here. You may also find additional resources here:
How do I request a free copy of my background check?
In some states, the employer is required to provide a copy of your background check at your request. If Sterling has prepared a consumer report or investigative consumer report in your name — as per the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act — you are entitled to a free copy of the completed report during each 12-month period. To receive a free copy of the report(s) in your file, please complete our online contact form.
Can my employer share the results of my background check with another employer?
No, unless you have specifically provided authorization. An example where this might occur is if you are being hired by a staffing agency on behalf of one of their clients.
Will juvenile records show up on my background check?
No. We do not search juvenile courts for juvenile records.
Will I get hired if I have a criminal record?
Every company has their own hiring criteria. Sterling is a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) and does not make any hiring decisions. We provide reportable information to our clients for them to leverage in determining eligibility for employment based on their standards and policies.
What happens when an employer doesn’t want to hire me because of my background check?
If an employer decides not to move forward with the hiring process because of what was uncovered in a background check, they are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to follow a two-part notification process called adverse action.
The first step of the process is to send a pre-adverse action notice that informs the candidate or current employee that the information contained in a Consumer Report result caused the employer to considering an adverse employment decision. This gives the candidate or employee an opportunity to review the report and dispute any inaccuracies.
After sending a pre-adverse notification, an employer should wait at least five business days (or longer if required by state or local law), before notifying the candidate or employee of a final adverse decision. A final adverse action notice must be sent to inform the candidate or employee that the employer has taken adverse action based on information on the consumer report.
How do I dispute the results of my background check?
Candidates may dispute the accuracy or completeness of a consumer report. To dispute, candidates are encouraged to call Sterling at 1-888-889-5248. Candidates may also submit a dispute via email by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claims are investigated within the time allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (in general, a Consumer Reporting Agency has up to 30 days to resolve a dispute). Candidates are notified via email of the resolution of their dispute.
Technical Support FAQs
What if I don’t know my password?
Why am I being told that my email address already exists in Sterling’s system?
You may have had a background check processed previously with Sterling through a different employer. If you don’t remember your password, you’ll need to reset the password. Click the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page, then click the “Forgot Your Password?” option and enter your email address. You’ll receive a confirmation email containing a link for resetting your password.
What if I don’t remember my password?
Just reset the password. Click the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page, then click the “Forgot Your Password?” option and enter your email address. You’ll receive a confirmation email containing a link for resetting your password.
What if I haven’t received my confirmation email for resetting my password?
It may take up to two hours for you to receive a confirmation email when resetting your password. If you don’t see the confirmation email in your inbox, be sure to check your junk and spam folders. If you still haven’t received your email after two hours, you can try again by clicking the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page and requesting another confirmation email. If you continue not to receive a confirmation email, please call us at 888-889-5248 for further assistance.
What if I don’t have a former employer’s contact information?
It’s important that Sterling is able to contact your previous employers to verify your work history. We suggest using Google or another search engine to find contact information, checking the employer’s web site, or reviewing any past documents you may have received from the employer. If the employer is no longer in business, please provide the most complete information you have.
How Can We Help You?
Please review the candidate FAQs above before reaching out via the form.