Criminal Background Checks for Employment

Discover the advantage of criminal background checks powered by automation and deep expertise.
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Hire with Confidence

You're building a strong, authentic culture at your organization. That's why you're careful about the people you hire. Sterling's criminal record checks, identity verification, and other background screening solutions — powered by our proprietary automation technology — will give you the confidence to take the next step and bring those top candidates onto your team.

Two co-workers chatting in front of a computer screen.

Achieve More with Sterling

Partnering with Sterling helps you mitigate risk and gain a clearer view of your job candidates. With our modern solutions, you can:

  • Add Identity Verification first to capture improved candidate data, accelerate hiring, and achieve more accurate results.
  • Gain direct digital access to more US background check criminal records.
  • Effectively manage risk with our technology-enabled compliance tools.
  • Obtain faster criminal background check results using end-to-end automation technology so you can start new hires sooner.
Gain deeper insights into the Sterling Difference

Why Sterling?

We are committed to advancing the future of criminal background checks for employment through an intentional blend of cutting-edge technology and strategic human touch.
Faster Time-to-Hire
Reduce background criminal check turnaround times by up to 50% while increasing search accuracy through Sterling’s focus on advanced fulfillment systems. 90% of our US searches leverage automation in combination with a strategic human touch for faster, high-quality results.
  • Our CourtDirect technology provides direct online digital access to ~90% of our US criminal search records.
  • Our SmartData technology enables us to further automate across the end-to-end employment criminal background check process – from matching candidate data to determining reportability and applying your order rules.
turnaround time in the first day. 1
criminal searches completed with automation. 1
turnaround time in the first hour. 1
1 Sterling Corporate Stats, 2023
With Covid-19, we had to quickly transition to new background screening processes without compromising turnaround times or accuracy. Sterling helped identify and execute a new way for Kimberly-Clark to confirm the case-by-case need for a statewide search in those limited instances where local court records could not be accessed.”

Carey McElroy.

Talent Acquisition Manager, Kimberly-Clark
What sold us on Sterling was getting the most comprehensive coverage for criminal background checks and a strong return on our investment.”

Rita Bowden,

Manager of Recruitment and Workforce Planning, Texas A&M’s Division of Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness
Not only do we need pre-employment criminal record checks done for onboarding but we’re also running them through OIG (Office of Inspector General at the US Department of Justice) checks on a monthly basis. We also need to get them appointed with insurance carriers who do their own background checks on top of that. The process takes time and costs a lot of money, so the accuracy and detail of employment criminal background check information provided to us is critical, because to go through the whole process to find out that we potentially can’t get someone appointed to a carrier can be a very costly problem. Sterling’s technology has allowed us to get more accurate background checks faster and easier, which is critical to us and our success.”


Chief Human Resources Officer, GoHealth
Criminal Checks Optimized for Your Needs


95% of Sterling's US criminal background checks are completed entirely in-house - Sterling is focused on ensuring we own more of the process so we can manage to your needs.2


Using our own Sterling court runners reduces our turnaround times by 25% when compared to third-party court runners.1


98% of our criminal searches were delivered on time and without interruption during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic shut-downs because of our commitment to process ownership and technology.2
1 Sterling Corporate Stats 2021
2 Sterling Corporate Stats 2023

Delivering Thorough Results

We cast a wider net to identify the most likely places to search for records in a criminal background check for employment. When Sterling’s three powerful locator tools are used together, they uncover tens of thousands more criminal records than instant database searches alone.
Sterling identifies the address history associated with a given Social Security Number (SSN) using an extensive database of 10,000+ sources. These results broaden the scope of a pre-employment background check to include locations of residence (and names, if requested) beyond what the candidate has disclosed. Alias names also may be identified upon request.
Learn more about SSN Trace
The Enhanced Nationwide Criminal Database searches State, County and Corrections criminal record databases to locate additional jurisdictions where a candidate may have committed a crime. Prior to reporting, possible felony and misdemeanor convictions and pending criminal cases are verified against primary source court records to validate the record.
Locator Select queries over 2,400 jurisdictions for bookings and criminal activity, covering most of the incarcerated population in the US, locating additional places where a candidate may have criminal record history. Prior to reporting, possible felony and misdemeanor convictions and pending cases are verified against primary source court records to validate the record.
Why is Identity Verification Essential to Improve Background Check Accuracy?
Sterling's Identity Verification, powered by, is designed to improve criminal background check services by verifying your candidate's identity and collecting more accurate candidate data before initiating the background check for employment. Learn more

Proven Industry Expertise

With 50,000+ clients, we cover every aspect of screening from start to finish. We can help you optimize your program to align with the pre-employment background check requirements of your industry as well as the specific positions you hire. Let our internal industry and compliance experts help you enhance your screening and identity programs and work with you to keep your program buttoned-up over time.

Robust End-to-End Employee Criminal Background Check Solutions

Our key services and technologies enable us to provide unique and powerful solutions for your pre-employment background check program. The overall process we follow to create the best criminal background check for employers includes a six-step process. Together, these steps allow us to enable industry-leading turnaround times, accuracy you can trust, and a balanced approach of automation and human touch for efficient and effective client and candidate experiences.
Cloud-based technology via delivers fast and convenient identity verification before a background screen, increasing the accuracy of your background check results
Sterling has three locator tools that uncover the courts and jurisdictions to search
Conduct a primary source search of the courts identified in the previous Locate step for criminal records. Assess the court record for completeness
Validation that PII retrieved from court records matches the PII provided by the candidate. Check record reportability per state and federal guidelines
Applies your reporting criteria, if needed, to provide only the information you need to make a decision
Assemble the background report and deliver it for your use in the hiring decision process

Extensive Suite
of Services

What does a good background check encompass, and how are our background check services different? Sterling’s background check services are designed for today’s modern global workforce. Our robust suite of background screening services can be tailored to fit your specific business needs and requirements.

County Court Record Searches are available in 3,340+ counties in the United States and identify potential criminal history records, such as felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions, and pending cases in the jurisdictions provided by the candidate or identified based on Social Security Trace or other locator criminal background checks (e.g. where they have lived, worked, or attended school) within the past seven years at minimum.

Sterling searches through the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), which includes registered sex offenders in 49 States, US territories, the District of Columbia, and participating Indigenous tribes. Please note that reporting in Nevada is not permitted.

FACIS, a search with Verisys®, pulls primary source data from federal and state sources for exclusions, sanctions, debarments, and disciplinary actions against health care professionals and businesses for published license types and publishing jurisdictions. FACIS sources include federal agencies, such as the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals/Entities, the System for Award Management (SAM), and Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).

A State Search is a search of a state’s repository or state police records for criminal information and can provide an alternative source for criminal record information in a state.

The Federal Court Search is for crimes that are prosecuted in federal district courts and include convictions and pending cases for charges such as international/inter-state drug trafficking, kidnapping, and other federal-level crimes. Sterling can obtain federal records from all district courts throughout the US and related territories.

The Global Criminal Search is for records in countries and/or territories based on the candidate’s self-disclosed address history, excluding US and Canadian sources, and may include various levels of courts, police records, or other sources of information. Records are reported in accordance with regional and local laws and regulations, and other restrictions that may be imposed by the source. Major coverage areas include Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia Pacific (APAC).

The Extended Global Sanctions Search examines millions of records worldwide sourced from foreign governments, courts, regulatory enforcement, law enforcement agencies, and other public and proprietary data sources around the globe. Data sources are subject to availability and applicable reporting restrictions. This search reviews restriction, sanction, and exclusion records maintained by US and international legal and regulatory enforcement organizations and public sources, and includes sources containing information from 1,700+ watchlists and sanctions with 4+ million records, as well as Politically Exposed Persons (PEP).

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons is commonly referred to as the terrorist watch list. OFAC administers and enforces economic sanctions programs primarily against countries and groups of individuals, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers. The sanctions can be comprehensive or selective, using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals. As a service, the results are subject to availability and applicable reporting limitations.

Gain visibility into criminal and National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) records through Sterling’s enhanced post-hire monitoring services, optimized to give you a better view into criminal offenses and potentially risky employee behavior.

How We Are Different

Automation at Scale
As leaders of innovation and owners of our own end-to-end screening processes, we serve companies of all sizes with more informed, responsive solutions.
50 %
Sterling's SmartData technology reduces turnaround times by 50% while increasing search accuracy.
Deep Market Expertise
Our verticalized support approach creates an integral connection between our internal industry experts and your specific business requirements and compliance needs.
For more than 45 years, we've been disrupting the background screening status quo with our focus on excellent outcomes.
Built for Your Success
We have one of the most extensive suites of criminal service offerings, and we can help you optimize your program to align with your unique identity and criminal background screening requirements.
With more than 50,000 clients, we cover every aspect of screening from start to finish.

Get Started with
Criminal Background Checks

Whether you are looking for a robust suite of employment background checks or more accurate criminal background checks, here’s how you can make safer, faster, and more informed hiring decisions utilizing our solutions. Click the option that best describes you.

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