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Background Check Central Video Blog

The obvious answer to the question can small businesses run background checks on applicants is yes. Not only can they, they should. Every time they look to hire someone. If you run a background check on applicants, you can learn much more about the appropriateness of hiring this person than to simply determine if they were recently convicted of a felony. Truth be told, very few applicants will be recent felons, so despite being an important part of the background check, it is just a small portion of the information that you should be receiving and considering.

small businesses run background checksBecause small businesses usually lack a sophisticated HR department doesn’t mean that the running a background check on applicants needs to be a hassle, time waster or run-away expense. It can not only be easy and affordable; it can also be exceptionally helpful in weeding out unqualified and risky applicants. Some of the key things to consider before you begin to run background checks on applicants are as follows:

Can an employer run background checks on applicants using a free or instant background check like you see on TV or find on Google?

The true answer is maybe, but that maybe comes with great risk. We all understand that as a small business owner and entrepreneur, you take charge and get things done. You have that application or resume in your hands and you can quickly jump on the web, get out your credit card and get it done before the applicant has had a chance to drive home from the interview. There are two big reasons to not do that.

The first reason not to use the el-cheapo internet site to conduct a background check is because many of those sites operate outside of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which is the law the pertains to using background checks on applicants and employees. Many of these sites are nothing more that bots that scrape the internet for possible information that matches, in some way, the name you put in them. They don’t find actual records very often, they are full or unrelated and erroneous information and somewhere in the tiny print of their disclaimer, it says that you can’t use the report for hiring purposes anyway. Violating the FRCA, if you simply failed to understand what you were buying is a big, expensive problem. The EEOC and plaintiff lawyers are happy to come calling when you use the wrong data. Buyer beware!

The second reason not to jump in and run a quick background check on applicants is that you need the applicant’s/employee’s permission. The FCRA was designed to give protections to applicants and employees to keep inaccurate information out of their consumer reports. The FCRA also regulates who can provide consumer report information, what reasons someone can obtain that information and who can obtain that information. It also mandates that “consumers” (your applicant or employee) can see and dispute the information that is found in those reports. These are some really good laws for everyone, and you want to make sure to get formal, written permission, also called consent, to run a background check the correct way.

Will hiring a professional background screening provider to run background checks on applicants take a lot of time and money?

No. Today much of the “hassle” factor and busy work has been eliminated from the employee background screening process. You can easily get affordable access to a provider who can set you up with an account in minutes and provide you with the tools to automate much of the process and focus on running your business. These quality providers (if you need help finding the right employee background check provider, click here!) do cost more than the $19.95 junk background check sites you see advertising on late night TV, but the cost, both in dollars and time, is very small in comparison to hiring the wrong applicant. These firms, like Background Check Central, handle nearly all of the administrative, regulatory and processing busy work involved when you run a background check on applicants.

Why I do I want more information than a criminal record check when I run a background check on an applicant I’m looking to hire?

There are many types of records that one can consider when hiring a new employee. Many applicants come to you claiming to have made certain accomplishments in their prior employment, to have obtained a specific education or certification, to offer you real, unbiased references, to be financially stable and the list goes on and on. Unless your position doesn’t require any qualifications at all, you would likely want to know if an applicant was truthful with you and is actually the person their resume makes them out to be. Further, many types of records have potential predictive value for you to consider.

Applicant and employee background checks don’t have to break the bank, slow you down or create a bunch of busywork. You can easily obtain a turn-key applicant background checking service from a qualified consumer reporting agency that specializes in assisting small businesses.

1 month

Cheap Online Background Checks are NEVER a substitute for REAL, PROFESSIONAL GRADE Background Checks done by licensed professionals.

Background Check FAQWe have probably hammered this scenario to death when we talk about the differences between real background checks and the kind you can get online instantly for a few bucks.

This question was posed by a potential client earlier this week, and it is one we get often.  Below is that question and our response.

Employer Shopping for Employee Background Checks:

We are really trying to watch our budget on these background checks and have found a number of places online that we can screen our applicants for under $30.00 each.  Can you match those kinds of prices?

Our Response:

Thank you for reaching back out to us regarding the comparison rates you have found, we encourage anyone looking for background checks to shop around and we hope you can appreciate what we have to offer and look forward to the opportunity to work with you.  This is a concern we get from time to time given the unregulated landscape of the background check industry, which makes it hard to make an “apples to apples” comparison between companies with different offerings.

By contrast, the companies you are seeing advertise those types of low rates online are most frequently internet based software companies who have created background check platforms, which primarily utilize third-party data brokers and repositories of free public information, which often produce incomplete results and may include “possible hits” when an applicant has a common name.  Something we have always ensured is our compliance with the best practices in applicant screening, which includes obtaining our records directly from the state, local and federal agencies which maintain them.  The data costs we pay to operate in this fashion are often in themselves higher than what some of the online brokers charge.  These are the same data costs that would apply to any company working directly with the data at its source.  We also ensure compliance with all applicable HR and employee screening laws to help mitigate issues that can arise throughout the process.  Best of all, if you have questions or need something done differently or more quickly, we are real people you can call or email anytime!

What we can do to help you keep costs down, is come up with some additional customized packages that may still fit what you find important know about your applicants.  We will likely be able to find a good middle ground on packages that both ensure the best coverage and rate level for you.

5 months

Staffing is highly competitive, and the best firms are seeking any competitive edge they can get.  Background Check Central can turn your staffing employee screening costs into a competitive edge in the market, without spending extra time, effort or money.

Some of the secrets to how we help the best staffing agencies to get a competitive edge include:

  • Reducing turn around time of your staffing employee screening, allowing you to place people faster and beat Staffing Employee Screeningthe competition to the punch.
  • Searching the right data and verifying the results rather than just searching the free online records that can burn your clients and cost you the account.
  • These free searches don’t actually qualify as real staffing employee screening.
  • Freeing up your time so your team can make you more money. Our services leverage technology and automation that eliminates time-wasting clerical tasks and keep your operations lean and working on things other than staffing employee screening.
  • Our platform integrates with hundreds of the top applicant tracking systems.
  • Every background check is reviewed by a real investigator, not a piece of software, or an administrative assistant, giving you a local professional to speak with should you ever need support or clarification.
  • Specially designed staffing employee screening background checks, not pre-formed packages that don’t add value.

Don’t spend your money on deficient staffing employee screening! Use that money to give you an edge and keep your clients happy and avoid losing business unnecessarily. Call us today!



7 months

Employee Background Checks Are Not A One-N-Done. Annual Background Checks Are A Must!

Annual Background ChecksAs employee background checks continue to evolve and become more useful, many employers remain stuck using the old narrative that, if the original employee background check that is conducted at the time of hire is good, the employee is approved forever. But what happens if something happens while they are your employee? Let's assume that whatever happens is bad enough that you would not hire someone for that job today if they have that in their background?

This prompts smart employers to do less extensive, but badly needed annual background checks on current employees. These are particularly important to do if you hire workers who deal with the public, with finances, who visit client locations or homes, who drive as part of their work, or any who work with vulnerable individuals like the elderly, children or impaired people. A great way to implement annual background checks is to set them up to occur just before annual employee reviews or at year end. Both approaches are easy to explain to employees and to track. As always, it is important to perform the same type of employee background checks on every employee with the same job. Employers can change the elements of those checks from one type of employee to another, however, they should treat everyone performing the same job the same way. Keep in mind that annual background checks are usually less expensive than the employee background checks conducted at the time of hire, because searches like education verification, employment history verification and confirming identity of the applicant should not normally have to be repeated.

Often times, employers will include annual drug screening with the annual background checks which can be helpful, but if the schedule for these tests is known, may allow a bad apple employee to engage in prohibited drug use during the year, but abstain just prior to the test to circumvent discovery.

As we move forward, the next innovation is to continuously monitor employee backgrounds and report activity as soon as it registers with courts, credit bureaus, etc. This is a great option, but it involves and greater cost for the employer and may be overkill for many positions or companies.

9 months

Understanding the legality of pre-employment background checks is not something every Human Resources Manager or company owner knows about.  That is why it is imperative that you employ a background screening company that knows the ins and outs of how to effectively protect you from bad hires.  Understanding what information you will receive, and what it actually means is why choosing a reputable screening company is so important.  If you choose a “$19.99 Background” online, you have no idea where the information comes from and there is no human to speak with who can explain it to you.

If you think you are covered, but you are not, it often takes time before your shortcomings will come to light Gaps to Look for in Pre-Employment Background Checksand this often leads employers to have a false sense of security.  Chicago Public Schools is coming under fire for their background screening policies of teachers and support staff including custodians, bus drivers, engineers and volunteers.  After a report came out last year showing that employees who abused students had criminal histories that should have disqualified them from working with kids, the district spent $3 million to redo their background checks.  Since this process began, they have barred more than 250 employees from returning to work this school year.

Schools, like many other employers, would prefer to avoid the disclosure that they hired an individual who went on to commit a crime and this leads us to the #1 issue facing pre-employment background checks, transparency.  All too often there is not enough evidence to formally charge these individuals and they are disciplined and given the option of resigning or being fired; most choose to resign.  When this individual then applies for a job in a different district, a call is made to confirm their employment records, and nothing can be said about their reason for leaving their position and you would find no warning signs of their behavior.  The Human Resources department is well versed in the liability they face should they release any information that is outside of verifying details of employment.

Knowing that missing information, or misleading information can occur in a background check is the first step in preparing your company to handle any situation that may arise.

1 year

Murderer Given New Roof by Local Charity

When a headline reads something like “Convicted Murderer Given Free Roof” or a feel-good charity story turns ugly because of the recipient’s past; the intention of doing a good thing for someone deserving is lost, and the charity is often made to look bad as a result. That’s where a real Michigan background check comes it.

In the charity world, giveaways are usually a great way to develop positive media stories about your organization, but they can also turn sour if the organization does not do their due diligence ahead of time, including conducting a background check.  This story can be used as a cautionary tale for any organization that is looking to do a good deed, even though they thought they were doing the necessary screening.  This organization implemented a screening process for those who applied for assistance, but it was not a real Michigan background check. Instead they only checked to see if the individuals were actively in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

In this story, the man who was awarded a new roof, in Port Huron, was convicted of second-degree murder and assault with intent to murder in 1976 and aggravated stalking in 2003.  Because it has been longer than three years since his discharge date, this individual no longer appears on the Michigan Department of Corrections website (a free search).  Many organizations look for the least expensive way to do a Michigan background check for their giveaway applicants, but they often find that the small fee they would have paid to have the applicants properly screened would have saved them from bad press.  In this case, a more thorough background check should have included a state criminal history search, with no limitations on the number of years back the data can go.  Having conducted this level of background check, something we would consider a basic Michigan Background Check, would have cost as little as $30 and could have saved this charity a lot of bad press both locally in Port Huron.

For more information about a real Michigan background check for charity recipients, employee background checks or background checks for caregivers, please check out our website at

Contributed by Adam Groth

1 year


June 7, 2018, Michigan Representative Peter Lucido of Shelby Township introduced House Bill 6126, which expands the total dollar figure landlords can collect as a security deposit from 1.5 months rent to 2 months rent plus $100.00.  Given that the average tenant background check costs around $85.00, this addition should adequately Michigan Landlords to Collect More Cashcover the up-front expense most landlords would incur by conducted such background checks.  The question on this bill is if the “plus $100” is considered part of the security deposit, which by law is to be returned upon the completion of the rental agreement, minus damages; or is this added figure is to cover upfront expenses incurred by the landlord?  As WZZM13 of Grand Rapids pointed out in their coverage (, renting in Michigan could get slightly more expensive.  By landlords conducting background investigations on their tenants, they are further protecting themselves against bad renters who might otherwise damage their property or fail to make payments.  Too often we speak with landlords in need of our locate and asset investigation services to help track down and collect from former tenants who failed to make payments or destroyed their rental properties.  We ask these folks if they considered conducting background checks before signing the final paperwork; with most saying they hadn’t considered them before the issues they had, but will do so in the future.

Pricing on tenant background checks is really straightforward and a reputable company should only charge a landlord for the information they actually want (not an entire pre-made package).  Most searches include criminal history and credit history, but civil litigation and prior landlord/tenant cases are also applicable; with even the more comprehensive background investigations coming in at under $150.00.

1 year


When the Lion’s team President, Rod Wood, was contacted by the Detroit News to provide comment about coach Matt Patricia’s background, this should not have been how he learned of Patricia’s arrest for aggravated assault in 1996.

When the Detroit News broke the story on Wednesday, it opened up a firestorm of controversy and concern. With the country focused on trying to eliminate domestic violence, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the Lion’s, known widely to be an ethical, conscientious and forthright organization, are now a lightning rod for criticism.

Let’s assume that Coach Patricia’s rendition is accurate and that the complainant withdrew her accusation because he was innocent and it was the right thing to do. The fact that the Lions were hiring a high-profile person for a very, very public job mandates that their background check and hiring processes catch something so easily detectable by anyone with an internet connection.

Detroit Lions Coach, Matt Patricia's Background Check Blunder Highlights the Reality That Too Many Businesses Use the Wrong Background Screening VendorIf the Lions elected to believe Patricia, and it is important to remember that he was never convicted of any wrong doing, and to move forward with the hiring decision, that seems like a reasonable decision. Clearly they followed the letter of the law and confined their decision to Michigan labor and employment law by only using convictions in their process. They even came out later and said that this report did not change their opinion or their hiring decision in any way. The problem for us, as professional background check providers, is that the arrest was not known to them until the Detroit News called. It is sitting in an easily accessible public record that we, and apparently the Detroit News, found in seconds. There was even a newspaper report of the incident available too.


Executive level hiring decisions should include questions to the applicant like: Have you ever been arrested for a felony? Have you ever been charged with a felony?

It is disconcerting to think that the Lions relied on people to conduct this background check, who so obviously failed to find what was so easy for the rest of the world to find and so important for them to know. They should have been made aware of this incident, regardless if it was over 20 years ago.

One can blame the Lion’s, but only to a degree. They, like many other companies in Detroit and across the country, fall victim to the tricks of the background screening industry. This industry works very hard to keep what they actually do hidden and to rely upon legal disclaimers to exonerate them if something like this comes to light. Instead the industry relies on technology gimmicks and misleading named search bundles that end up leaving too many clients feeling a false sense of security, while maintaining a great deal of risk that could otherwise be mitigated.

Far too often, companies and organizations select their employment screening / employment background check provider based upon price, speed (which usually means cutting corners and limiting the sources searched, and of course more legal ** disclaimers!) or because a slick sales person sold them on the latest version of a “super instant background check” technology. Big employee background check firms spend massive amounts of money on sales and entertainment to lock in the work of large employers like the Lions.

The reality is that there is no way to do an instant nationwide background check. Period. Nearly countless records are not searchable from the web, nor are they stored in some private database. Were just not there. In fact, we’re not even close.

This situation should serve as a warning to all employers and business owners to better understand what their background check provider does and does not do for them. Cheap and fast mean what they have always meant, low quality and unreliable. Following the law does not require that you be left in the dark and, like the Lions, every caring, ethical employer should be aware of what the agents working on their behalf are really doing as part of their background check.


1 year

Identify Why Your Organization Should Background Check Applicants

This is probably the easiest and most obvious question an employer can ask themselves.  If you are reading this, you are likely considering screening your applicants at a certain stage in the hiring process.  Every company goes through this at some point, no matter how large or small.  This is attributed to a number of things, not the least of which includes protecting your firm from a bad and costly hiring decision, the duty to protect current employees, the need to protect company data and resources, and the need to ensure the integrity of your candidates.  It is understandable in today’s day and age that anyone with employees would want to know about past behaviors that can lead to future problems.  Thankfully background screening has become commonplace for most employers.  Unfortunately, bad hires count on a number of employers who do not screen their hires and hire strictly on how they feel about an applicant, creating potential problems down the road.

What Do You Want to Know About Your Applicants?

I’ll bet if you are calling around to background check companies, you have never been asked this question in these terms.

If you stop to think; “what are we concerned about in our applicant’s background”, you will likely come up with the answer to this one.

What matters about an applicant’s background that would prevent you from making an offer?

For some industries, this question is easily answered by regulation specific to who can perform certain professional roles.  Your industry may have these types of guidelines in place, and if so, a qualified background screening company should be able to match you with the exact searches you need (in this case, skip to number 4!).  Most industries don’t have specific background check guidelines and therefore it is up to the employer (you) to identify what you want to know about an applicant before hiring them.  There are many options for employers to choose from; and so, to name a few of the most commonly requested searches, we have pasted this handy list below:


  • Criminal Convictions
  • Sex Offender History
  • County Level Criminal Convictions
  • Local Level Misdemeanor Convictionsbackground check
  • Driving Records
  • Credit History
  • Identity Verification (Name, DOB, SSN and Prior Addresses)

         - Applicants sometimes lie about this to avoid their records being found!

  • Education Verification
  • Prior Employment Verification
  • Federal Court Records Search
  • Bankruptcy Court Search
  • Industry Specific Professional Licensing and Violations
  • US Terror Watchlist
  • Reference Interviews

Keeping in mind that this list is not all-inclusive and that there are many additional options available, it is important that along with having an idea of what you do want to know about an applicant, you should consider the information you may not want to know.  By this, we simply mean, what type of records are you willing to overlook on any applicant.  It is specific to note that this should be applied to any applicant to avoid hiring bias.  If there are records that would not prevent your firm from hiring someone, we can help steer you clear of searches that might reveal that information.  For example, if your applicant will never have access to a company car and has no job requirements to drive while employed, you may not select to see his or her driving record.  The same applies to credit history searches and bankruptcy records.  If these things would never disqualify someone from working for you, it may be best to leave those out of your background check.

Identify and Document the Information You Want to Know

Once you have a pretty good idea of what you do and don’t want to know about your applicants, it is a smart idea to document that list for a couple of reasons.  First off, you will want to have it handy when you do select a background screening company, so you can best articulate which searches you want to be included and which you don’t.  This brings up the topic of packages.

Clear and simple; if a background check company insists on a package of searches that they have pre-made; don’t buy.

This is your hiring process and you can decide what is to be included and what isn’t.  A qualified company may have suggestions based on experience or your local area, but at the end of the day, these searches are for people you will be hiring and working with.  Also, by documenting these searches and the criteria you will use to hire, you can help ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws and create a fair and even hiring process that is applied across the board for applicants in equal roles.


Selecting a Qualified Background Check Company

What do we know so far?

  • Pre-made packages are not helpful for most employers, and background checks should be designed for each individual employer, with the specific details about what they want to know about an applicant.
  • There are a lot of search options available to an employer and consulting an expert can help.
  • You as the employer are in control of the information that goes into your background checks.
  • Compliance includes creating a background check that applies to all applicants for a specific role


What else makes for a qualified partner to screen your applicants?


Most importantly for any employer to know is that creating a compliant background check to deploy during your hiring process is a smart way to help reduce hiring risks.  This process is very commonplace and with a good background check firm to partner with, you can ensure that you are obtaining the very specific information that is important to your individual organization to know before you make hiring decisions.  If you are looking for guidance on how to begin creating a background check for your company or have questions on specific industries or locations, our team of investigators are happy to help you on the phone at 888-817-8282 or via chat online at

2 years

By: Jackie Brazen

Nationwide Criminal Databases sound like the perfect way to search for criminal records on someone during their background check.  What an amazing concept, and so easy right?  Well, not exactly.  Normally, this isn’t even close to what you actually get.  The expectation is that every state, county and city is being searched thoroughly for records that paint a full picture of a person’s criminal history.  On every level, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

What you are really getting

All of these databases/search options come with a disclaimer.  For starters, read that closely.  Even if the search claims to be conducted using “millions of records” that includes thousands of different jurisdictions, there is always a disclaimer.  What these disclaimers do is notify you that there is no control over where the Nationwide Criminal Databasessearches are actually being conducted, which databases are functional and if the municipalities where your target operates is even included.  Most of the records that are being searched are publicly available (for free) online elsewhere.  Creative software simply searches as many of these as it can and produces results that are only as good as the user believes they are.  This is very dangerous, especially since a lot of the available records come from the department of corrections (only people having served time in prison in most states) and a variety of oddball counties who publish their records online!  Often these records are out of date or don’t include final dispositions, which are paramount in determining WHAT someone was actually convicted of.  Additionally, records are not being verified by a human investigator who can look for things that don’t belong, like errors and false positives.  The worse example yet is when a search is done on someone in a state or county where none of the records are available to these “national databases” (which goes for most of the country).  You may be searching “millions of records” but one of them are within 500 miles of where your person lives.

Records on Wrong Person

This is another common issue with these “National Background Checks” or “National Criminal Databases”.

Once you receive the information you may notice that there is no way to verify if what you are looking at actually pertains to the person you ran the search on.  There may be no middle names, dates of birth or even an address by which to verify that the record is correct for your search target.  This is incredibly common when dealing with people who have common names.  Just imagine searches for records on “John Smith” in Chicago.  You will likely get so many false positives that the results are meaningless.

What to Search

The best scenario is one where you search for records in and around where are person lives and has lived.  This often involves a statewide criminal history search (when available) along with individual county level searches.  Each search should be done using a licensed professional investigator and data should only come directly from the government entity responsible for housing and maintaining such records.  This is often another failure of National Criminal Records Databases and National Criminal Background Checks.  To supplement their access level, which limit these software packages to what is available for free online (and often times outdated or watered down), bulk records are purchased and searched.  This causes additional problems with identifying the entirety of a charge and often requires a user to conduct additional, more costly searches in the long run.


If you are curious about nationwide criminal databases or are currently using a service that might fit into this category and would like a very easy test example that will prove the dichotomy between “national background check” providers and real investigators, please give us a call.  Five minutes with on the phone with our team could save you thousands in headaches from buying the wrong service.


2 years

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