How Much Do Background Checks Cost in the U.S.?

Posted: December 20, 2017

It’s the end of 2017, and if you haven’t already, you’re probably scrambling to figure out next year’s HR budget, including background checks for potential candidates. But how much do background checks cost, and how much is too much? To help you with your planning, we’ve built a list of what you should expect to back for background checks–whether with us or another provider. Keep in mind that the cost of a background check can vary significantly by search type, the scope or depth of the search and screening company. When estimating the cost of background checks, there are two major types of expenses to consider. The first is the charge for processing and delivering the background check itself. This is typically the price that is quoted by vendors online. The second cost is potential add-on, access fees charged by data providers and certain local courts. These fees are classified as mandatory and statutory fees and passed-through to the employer.  Be sure to verify that these fees are passed through with no additional markup form the vendor, most of them will provide a list of known fees if requested. The background check vendor you choose should offer transparent pricing and be able to clearly articulate their pricing model including applicable fees. That way, there will be no surprises when you receive your bill.   Prices for Pre-Employment Background Checks Below are average estimates for popular candidate background checks. The actual quote you receive will be based on the anticipated volume of checks that you plan to order – the more you buy, the cheaper it gets! You may find prices that are higher or lower than these rates.
Identity Checks   Price Range  Access Fee
Identity Verification, Social Security Number Trace, Address History $2 -$4 No
Criminal Background Checks Price Range Access Fee
National Sex Offender Search: $2 – $5 No
National Criminal Background Search / Criminal Database Search $3 – $20 No
Statewide Criminal Search $6 – $20 Yes
Federal Criminal Search $7 – $15 No
OFAC Terrorist / Watch List Search $1 – $5 No
Credit History Price Range Access Fee
Employee Credit History Report $5 – $10 No
Motor Vehicle Records Price Range Access Fee
Driver’s License Search / MVR Records $3 – $10 Yes
Verifications Price Range Access Fee
Employment History Verification $7 – $15 Maybe
Education Verification $7 – $15 Maybe
  Other Fees & Factors Keep in mind that the number of county courthouses that need to be searched can affect the overall cost. Remember those mandatory and statutory fees we mentioned earlier?  All county record searches in the U.S. are conducted through the local courthouses. For savings, many vendors can design custom background check packages that cover multiple jurisdictions where an applicant may have lived, worked, or attended school, and do so in a way that can provide a broader search while at the same time controlling your cost exposure.   Access Fee Prices As mentioned, some background checks include jurisdictional and data access fees, based on the specific state, county, and data providers. Here’s what you can expect to pay for common access fee types.
County Court Access $0 – $30
Statewide Criminal Repository Access $3 – $65
Employment Verification Data Warehouse $0 – $15
Education Verification Clearing House $0 – $20
Department of Motor Vehicle / Driver License $2 – $20
  Are Background Checks Worth It? Common sense would say yes. You want to make sure that any employee who enters your company is both fit for the position and doesn’t have a criminal or financial past that might impact his/her potential role. And while small businesses might shy away from this extra expense, it could be well worth it in the end.  As Manesh K. Rath, an attorney with Keller and Heckman in Washington, D.C., explains: “Background checks can be a very cost-efficient method of helping a small organization find people who are the right fit, especially when compared to the costs of a hiring mistake.”   The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) new Human Capital Benchmarking Report puts the average onboarding cost per hire at $4,129, which is money wasted when a poor hiring decision is made. This further substantiates Mr. Rath’s statement.   Businesses That Require Background Checks While any business can benefit from pre-employment background checks, they are especially important for the following industries and company types:
  • Organizations in the hospitality sector, including any companies/positions that deal directly with cash or deposits.
  • Businesses that focus on commercial services (including licensed employees), such as those in banking and credit unions, as well as those that might be unlicensed, such as financial planners.
  • Property management companies, especially those that provide services in which employees enter homes to perform maintenance and repairs.
  • Businesses involved in home nursing and home-based healthcare, such as therapy services.
  Choosing a Vendor When choosing a background check vendor look for transparency in pricing, fast results, and excellent customer service. For more information about Info Cubic’s background check services, contact us today.