What is the cost of a background check?

Many of you may wonder.. What is the cost of a background check? Background checks can be surprisingly cheap. We’ll get into the costs in a minute but first consider the potential costs and consequences of hiring a criminal or someone that lied on their application form to get a job they weren’t qualified or experienced enough to do.

An applicant that exaggerated their experience probably won’t have the skills they really need to perform the job effectively. If the position is a management role, their inexperience could damage business relations as well as destroy internal working relationships in which trust is lost through incompetence. Those costs are almost uncountable but undeniably detrimental to business in myriad ways.

Potentially worse are prestigious positions filled by someone that used fake licenses or certificates to pass the interview process, which could drag the organization into costly legal disputes and litigation due to the elevated trust placed in people with official license and certification. Fraudulent applications are not uncommon but an employer can be found equally liable if the hiring managers failed to do their due diligence and properly screen applicants with background checks before hiring.

The cost of a background checks

The cost of a background check varies depending on which background checks you use and whether you employ a professional consumer reporting agency to help streamline the process. Our team at Intelimasters helps employers mix and match the most suitable background checks for the roles they wish to fill and might include one or more of the following:

  • Identity verification
  • Past Employment Verification
  • Education Verification
  • Reference Check
  • Credit Background Check
  • Criminal History Check
  • Social Media Check
  • Public & Internet Check

The checks you choose to do depend on the nature of the job. The greater responsibility of a position, the more extensive and thorough you should be with background checks. Screening job applicants for healthcare or working near or with minors should definitely include criminal history checks as well as past employment, education verification. 

Most employers (at least 90 per cent) perform perfunctory criminal history background checks on all job applicants. However, there are several types of checks under this category, each requiring access to different sources. A local criminal records check is usually done in person at district or county courthouses. A more thorough search might require a state or national criminal history check, which actually involves searching through hundreds of databases across the country.

Let’s have a look at the costs and help you assess where you might be able to make savings by only opting for essential background checks while leaving out those that have no use to you.

Basic Background Check

A basic check to verify a candidate’s identity and basic local criminal records checks are usually the least expensive as they are quick and easy and only rely on a single source of data. Expect to spend about $50 for a basic criminal record check at a state level.

3 factors that impact background check costs

Apart from the different rates consumer reporting agencies like us charge for background screening, there are three key factors that affect the cost of background checks.

  1. Type of search
  2. Depth of search 
  3. Results of search

1. Type of Search

As we’ve already discussed, there are several types of background check; basic criminal records checks and identity checks being among the cheapest and quickest. Other checks such as Past Employment Verification and Education Verification are usually more time consuming as they can’t be looked up on a computer. These types of checks require writing and making phone calls or even paying a personal visit to verify information from a previous employer or educational institution. More time and labour spent on each search equates to higher costs.

2. Depth of search

With criminal history searches, keep in mind that there is no single national database we can search through. If a candidate has lived and worked in other states or countries, you should search through records at district courthouses in those states or countries. Federal criminal conviction records are in other separate databases. Each of these steps requires more time and resources, which incrementally hikes up the price.

3. Results of search

The results of a search determine what action you’ll take next. If a basic background check reveals any red flags or prompts the need for further investigation, then more work must be done to get to the bottom of the case. For example a criminal history search might reveal involvement in a crime or a court attendance but that doesn’t automatically mean the candidate is a criminal. Additional research must be done to reveal the outcome of any court cases or establish whether the candidate was actually convicted of a crime.

Similarly, verifying licences might take more than a single search, and is often necessary to ensure the licence hasn’t been suspended or is out of date. Our researchers are trained to pick up clues in job applications that might warrant additional investigation such as mismatched dates or simple spelling mistakes, which may be entirely innocent but still require extra legwork to resolve any discrepancies.

More often than not, our clients opt for a package solution to perform a variety of background checks for a fixed cost that includes any additional investigations. The types of checks to be included in a package depend on the employer’s unique requirements.

Is it worth hiring a background screening agency?

Time is not on your side when hiring, especially for a large organisation processing hundreds or possibly thousands of applications at a time. While you might already have a dedicated HR team that’s proficient in handling aspects of hiring, the sheer number of hours required to check every application thoroughly is something best shared with or handed over to a team of dedicated professionals. 

Hiring a consumer reporting agency to carry out your background checks is more cost-effective, it’s quicker and gives you the assurance of drastically reducing the risk of making a bad hire because someone slipped through the cracks. You’ll also allow the HR team to dedicate their time and resources to the many other responsibilities they have looking after existing employees. Whichever way you look at it, the cost of a background check is small compared to the potential costs of a bad hire that could end up destroying your business and its reputation.