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How to Validate an Online Background Check

#background checks
by Ali Gordon


From romance cons to finance fraud, cyber scams are on the rise. In fact, the Better Business Bureau says scams increased by 25% last year alone, and it’s one of many reasons you need to know how to validate an online background check. Using these 3 tips, you can steer clear of scammers and protect your budget and business.

1. Know What You’re Paying For and Why

Understanding the market value of a background check can help you determine if the online service you are using is scamming you for financial information or funds. For example, is the price point well below most other background check offers? Or is it notably higher without delivering demonstrable value?

Questions like these require you to understand the kind of background check you may need and what’s included. A food service employee, for instance, may require a less thorough background check than a security officer, and a baseline understanding of costs for screening each may protect you from using a fraudulent online background check to gauge qualifications. 

Depending on the type of background check needed for a particular hire, costs per check can range from $20 to $100 for a standard criminal background screening and $25 to $35 for credit history checks. Multi-state or other kinds of deeper background investigations can cost more, depending on the situation.

2. Cross-Reference with Government Records

Even if you determine an online background check is offered legitimately, that doesn’t necessarily mean the service has provided you with thorough and accurate results that fully meet your needs. An online service needs to grasp the scope of your needs, and eKnowID utilizes an intensive process with advanced technology and an interpersonal touch to ensure this. After reviewing the results, you can conduct a quick reference check on public government sites to see if the data aligns and confirms a valid check for your specific hire.

This step doesn’t have to take long, but it can provide an added layer of confidence when making employment decisions. County clerk records, prison records, and arrest records are some examples of databases you can cross-reference to see if the online tool has delved deeply enough into the information you may need to know for a given role. 

The National Center for State Courts is also a useful resource to reference multi-state government sites to check records. This is beneficial if the online background check you used did not investigate broadly enough for your unique hiring case. Prior to paying for a check, you can also ask if information from these sources is included, and if not, it may not be a valid check for your distinctive needs. 

3. Confirm Certifications, Licenses, or Legal Knowledge

An online background check should be able to explain the basis of its validity. The service should outline at some point whether it is a certified consumer reporting agency (CRA) or licensed company with memberships that require standards of accountability. 

Equally important, the service should have some sense of the legal scope of the background check being offered. What does it cover? Who can use it, when, and why? If an online background check falls under regulations as a CRA, the process will have to comply with legal regulations. 

The Federal Trade Commission explains: “Certain practices may be indicators that a background screening company isn’t following reasonable procedures. For example, if a report lists criminal convictions for people other than the applicant or employee – for instance, a person with a middle name or date of birth different from the applicant’s – that raises FCRA [Fair Credit Reporting Act] compliance concerns. Other indications that a company’s procedures might not be reasonable include screening reports with multiple entries for the same offense or that list criminal records that have been expunged or otherwise sealed.” Assessing these elements of an online background check will help you determine its validity and could protect your business.

Gain Secure and Valid Online Background Checks 

With so many digital offerings available to businesses, it’s important to ensure your online background check is secure, valid, and precise. eKnowID strives to give businesses confidence in every step of this process. Each eKnowID background check delivers on clear, unique value, holds up to accuracy tests, and meets validity and legal requirements to skillfully support your hiring objectives. Learn more or order a test here.

Not sure which background check is right for you?

We’re here to help. Our U.S. based support team and expert investigators will work with you to make sure you have everything you need.