Client FAQs:
Screening and Background Checks

We’ve got answers to your questions about screening and background checks.

Sterling Client FAQs

Please review the info below for answers to our most commonly asked screening questions.

Not a client? See Candidate FAQs here.

The convergence of the post-9/11 security concerns and the online data revolution expanded access to reliable background checks beyond large corporations. Today, nearly 80% of all employers, big and small, perform some form of pre-employment background check on job candidates.

Pre-employment background checks must be conducted carefully and in compliance with privacy laws and regulations. Information such as bankruptcies, workers’ compensation claims, and some criminal records data are a matter of public record. Other information, such as credit history check, require an applicant’s written consent, per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Criminal record searches and reference checks are the most common background checks, but solutions vary depending on industry and specific job requirements. For example, will the candidate handle cash transactions or manage cash assets? The typical background check is meant to verify whether or not the applicant is truthful about their criminal record, education, and employment history.

While a Social Security Number (SSN) trace isn’t required for most criminal record checks, our Complete Criminal Record Locator uses a Social Security Number Trace to automatically find and search up to 20% more criminal records than any other background screening provider.

Our Complete Criminal Locator tool combines three proprietary technologies into one comprehensive tool. First, our ArrestDirect locator expands the breadth of a criminal records search for arrest records and convictions based on potential aliases and addresses listed on a Social Security Number Trace. Then, our enhanced nationwide criminal records search pulls data from millions of records. The SSN Trace is then used to find additional records and verify information collected. All of this results in the most robust criminal records search in the industry with up to 20% more records identified.

That’s a question best left up to your legal counsel. There is much variation between various state and industry laws. However, your industry and job requirements will likely give you a good starting point.

Times vary significantly based on the types of searches conducted and the company that provides them. We proudly claim the fastest turnaround times in the industry for county courthouse records – the most common background check.

Our CourtDirect product has lowered the turnaround for criminal record searches to less than 24 hours (or one business day) in most cases. Most background screening companies promise turnaround times of 2-3 business days.

It all depends on how much breadth and depth is desired in a background check. Sterling delivers the most robust, accurate criminal record background checks available. Depending on the complexity of the screening, the cost for such a check can range from under $50 to several hundreds of dollars. If you perform a large number of background checks regularly, integrating a Sterling screening solution into your applicant tracking system or talent management system is likely the best, most cost-effective option.

Yes. Certain state laws and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (a federal law that regulates who is permitted to access your consumer report information and how it can be used) generally require written or electronic consent from the job applicant prior to a third-party screening company like Sterling to conduct any criminal record search, credit history check, or reference check.

Results depend on the breadth and depth of the background check as well as the goals of your organization. For most employers we work with, we search courthouse criminal records in the counties where an applicant has resided in the past seven to 10 years, which is a standard best practice. Many employers choose to supplement this standard background check with searches of various databases, including the sex offender registry, government sanctions lists, motor vehicle records, and others. The more comprehensive a background check, the more accurate and reliable the results.

The foundation for all of our screenings is a county history search. We highly recommend the additional Social Security Number Trace service for the most comprehensive and complete results via our Complete Criminal Record Locator.

That question is best answered by your legal counsel. There is great variation in state and industry laws; your industry and job requirements will likely lead you in the right direction. For example, a motor vehicle records check and/or drug test is likely appropriate for an employee who operates machinery or drives a company vehicle. A credit history check may be appropriate for an employee handling or managing cash assets. And a sex offender registry search might be considered for a volunteer.

Most importantly, we suggest you speak with your legal advisor for input on which types of background checks are appropriate for your organization.

That’s a question best left up to your legal counsel. There is much variation between various state and industry laws. However, your industry and job requirements will likely give you a good starting point.

We verify an applicant’s employment history, including previous job titles and job descriptions, as well as start and end dates. Our highly trained team of verification experts contacts former employers to manually verify information and the accuracy of a candidate’s application. We also provide in-depth education history verification, professional licensure, and certification checks to ensure all details on a candidate’s resume are true and complete.

That’s a question best left up to your legal counsel. There is much variation between various state and industry laws. However, your industry and job requirements will likely give you a good starting point.

Compliance is our expertise. Our background checks comply with federal and state background screening laws, and our compliance team stays on top of each state’s current legislative and regulatory changes. Our automated screening technology applies relevant content filters based on state and federal laws. In addition, we provide regular updates on state legislation. We also keep you informed by hosting employment screening webinars with recertification credits.

No, it is best to make a job offer prior to initiating a pre-employment background check. It is important to know that while the FCRA does not restrict performing a background check after a job offer is made, some state laws may do so. If it’s not restricted by your state’s laws, we recognize it as a best practice to make a job offer prior to initiating a background check.

That’s a question best left up to your legal counsel. There is much variation between various state and industry laws. However, your industry and job requirements will likely give you a good starting point.

Three pieces of information are required for an accurate, thorough background check:

  • Correctly spelled first and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number (SSN)

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act was enacted in 2003 and amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FACT Act entitles consumers to obtain one free copy of their consumer files from certain consumer reporting agencies during each 12-month period.

If Sterling has prepared a consumer report or investigative consumer report in your name for one or more of our clients, you may request a free copy of the report(s) in your file.

Please visit our candidate website for more information.

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