As an employer, you are held liable for facts that are known or should have been known concerning an employee’s character or criminal history. That’s why almost every employer has some background screening program.
But how do you thoroughly vet your candidate AND stay within your budget? Good question–everyone is concerned about the cost of their background check. Depending on the type and amount of information requested, a background check’s price can differ.
How much a background check costs depends on several variables, such as:
- The type, scope (number of addresses and/or names being checked), and the locations searched.
- If they require any access fees to get information by individual jurisdictions and data providers.
Our previous blog post explored the four most commonly used criminal background checks, how they are conducted, why to do them, and how long they typically take.
In this post, we will cover each of the variables above and provide insights about surprising ways the background check provider you work with can increase or reduce your costs.
What Affects the Cost of a Background Check?
Your background check’s overall cost can vary based on the amount of information requested (type and scope), any third-party access fees, how the pricing is set up (packages or a la carte), and your background check provider.
How does the scope and type of search impact costs?
The amount of information requested can have a significant impact on the overall cost of the background check. This includes the number of services in the background check and the scope (number of names and addresses). The more information you want to know about your candidate, the higher the costs will be.
- For example, a background check including criminal history, credit, driving records, and verifications, will cost more than a simple criminal background screening.
- If you were to expand this background check to include additional names and addresses, the cost would likely increase.
How does the position you’re hiring affect the cost?
Beware of one-size-fits-all solutions. Not all positions require the same level of screening. Your background checks’ scope and depth should be driven not only by the jobs you’re hiring for, but by industry and the risk exposure the roles represent to your organization.
If you are screening all your candidates with the same background checks, you would be under or over screening and losing money.
What are third-party access fees?
Third-party access fees are those charged to Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) by State, County, Driving, Education, Employment, Professional License, International, and other sources to access the information.
These are not generally included in the quoted background check package prices or individual service prices. They mostly depend on where your candidate has lived, worked, and/or gone to school.
How is the background check pricing structured?
Many background check companies offer preset packages, a la carte pricing, and/or custom packages. Many will let you add additional services on top of packages to customize your background check further. Other pricing structures may include volume pricing. Many providers offer tiered pricing based on the annual volume of orders.
What should you look for when comparing prices?
When evaluating prices from different background providers, it is crucial to ensure you are comparing the same services from provider to provider. While many vendors advertise bundled services as affordable alternatives, not all providers are clear on the package price. You must understand what services are and are not included in your package before you sign on the bottom line.
Wildly varying costs are a sign there may be a service mismatch. Be sure to look for:
- Are the type, depth, and scope of background check services the same?
- Nomenclature matters. The same product may be named differently among background screening providers.
- Additional fees: aside from third-party access fees, are there any other hidden fees?
What are hidden fees?
Some vendors offer a low package price, hoping you sign up quickly and overlook the extra fees in the fine print.
Here are some standard fees to look for in the footnotes:
|Data entry fee.||eSignature fee.|
|System usage fee.||Monthly service fee.|
|Additional training fee.||Adding extra packages or users fee.|
How can your background check provider impact your overall cost?
A surprising but essential factor that affects the cost of your background check is your background screening provider. Here are some sneaky ways some background check companies can pile on your expenses:
Vague package pricing
Many contracts today are loaded with unclear and confusing terms intended to sound valuable. But they are not clear enough to be helpful.
- For example, let’s say you bought a standard criminal package (Social Security Number Trace, National Criminal, National Sex Offender, and County/Statewide Criminal) for $30.00.
It may seem like the price includes seven years of address history. But, when you receive your first invoice, you find an additional 7-10 dollars for every county after 3.
Most likely, your provider’s package price included: Up to 3 counties only. This means you were charged additionally for every single service outside of the package price.
County or Statewide Criminal Checks
Most background check companies bill the county and statewide criminal check as two separate services. It can end up costing you money in 2 ways:
- Even if there is a thorough statewide available, they will still perform county-level checks. The cost of your background check can increase significantly depending on the number of counties searched.
- They may start with a statewide criminal check and charge you for county checks when the state check is not thorough or available. Depending on where your candidate has lived, this may end up being very expensive.
Ready to get started with criminal background checks?
Orange Tree is here to help employers like you find the best fit for their open position while staying in budget. It is crucial to consider the factors that impact the cost when hiring and retaining employees. This will help you choose the best background screening plan for the industry and position you are hiring.
With over 30 years of experience, Orange Tree believes every company deserves a background screening program designed solely in its best interest. We seek to earn long-term partnerships that provide our clients with custom solutions to meet their needs, clarity in all aspects of our collaboration, and the value of balance between cost and results.
Want to know the top 5 frequently asked questions about criminal background checks? We address this and more in our next post!
Want to learn more about how our team can be of service to your organization? Schedule a call today.