Getting Started

Q: How much does your service cost?

A: We offer a variety of background check options from discounted pre-set packages to fully customizable screening solutions. Our packages range from $29.95 up to $99.95 per applicant. Select a package and add reports that are relevant to the position for which you are hiring, or create your own Custom Background Check with all the searches you need. Prices for Custom Background Checks vary based on the searches you include. A one-time setup fee of $100 is required to establish an account with Backgrounds Online. However, this fee is waived if you order a minimum of $49.95 within 30 days of setting up your account. Contact our experienced staff for help with creating a custom report or for exact quotes based on the searches you wish to run.

Q: Do you charge monthly fees?

A: No, there are no monthly or recurring fees. You will only be billed for the reports you order.

Q: How quickly can I get started?

A: You can create your own account online and request background checks immediately or contact us for assistance. We'll get your account setup and ready to go within a few business hours. Please note: background checks will not be processed until an account is approved.

Q: Can I create a screening account online?

A: Yes. Backgrounds Online offers a fast, secure and reliable method to create your own screening account online. It's a five-step process that can be completed in just a few minutes. Once you sign up, you can start ordering background checks immediately. We will need to review and verify your account (that typically takes about 2 business hours). Create your account and start screening today.

Q: What information will I need to sign up online?

A: To sign up online, you'll go through a five-step process that requires the following:
  • Details about the business, including address, phone number and Tax ID.
  • Contact information for the authorized account user.
  • Account and payment information.
If you have questions or need assistance, please call us at 800-838-4804.

Q: I am a Notary. Should I start my own screening account?

A: We provide screening services for Notaries, but they are conducted via third-party employers. If an agency is interested in hiring you or it's time for an annual background check, they will contact us and schedule the background screening. Notaries do not need to start their own screening accounts.

My Account

Q: What information do I need from an applicant to run a background check?

A: You will need the candidate's full legal name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, home address and phone number. Some searches and verifications require additional information.

Q: Can my applicant submit their own information for a background check?

A: Yes, Backgrounds Online offers an Applicant Self-Submittal service. You provide the applicant's name and email address and we'll send them all the information they need to get started. This saves you time and reduces the risk of errors during the data input process.

Q: Am I required to run a minimum number of background checks?

A: No, you can run background checks whenever you need them. There are no minimum requirements.

Q: How do I change my Password?

A: Login to your account and click the My Account Settings link. You'll see the option to update your password and password retrieval information.

Q: What if I forget my Password?

A: We'll help you create a new password. Start on the Forgot Password page and enter your Username. Answer your Security Question and we'll email you a link to reset your password so you can access your account. If you have additional questions, please contact us for assistance.

Q: Do you invoice your clients?

A: Yes. We send invoices on the first of the month for the previous months' balance. They can be sent via standard mail or email. We send follow-up invoices when a bill is 30 days past due. You can review your invoices at any time by logging in, clicking Settings under the My Account dropdown and then clicking the Invoices link.

If you have questions about billing, please contact us for assistance.

Products & Services

Q: How do I submit a background check?

A: After your applicant or employee signs the disclosure and release forms, you can login to your Backgrounds Online account and order a report. You'll have the option to provide the candidate's information or take advantage of our Applicant Self-Submittal feature that empowers the individual to submit their information directly to us.

Q: What paperwork do I need to perform a background check?

A: Before we can run a background check on your behalf, you must have your applicant or employee sign a disclosure and release form. We provide this documentation when your account is created and it is available at any time within your Resource Center.

Q: Do you provide all the documents I need for the screening process?

A: Yes. We provide the Release Forms you need to request a background check as well as Pre-Adverse and Adverse letters and a Summary of Rights granted by the FCRA. These documents are all available within your Resource Center.

Q: How quickly will I get results?

A: Most of our background checks are completed within three to five business days. Now and then there may be a delay that causes a report to take longer than our average turnaround time. If this happens, we will inform you of the delay, let you know why and provide updates on when the report will be complete.

Q: How will I know when a report is complete?

A: We'll send you an email when a background check is complete so you'll know it's available and ready to review. You can also login to your account at any time to check the status of your background checks in your Report Manager.

Q: What causes a background check to be delayed?

A: Delays can occur for various reasons:
  • Reports are most often delayed due to issues with clerk assisted searches. This can happen if court clerks are unavailable for a day or more or if they have a backlog of work.
  • Delays also occur when a court has issues with their electronic system and clerks are unable to look up specific records.
  • Harsh weather can lead to unexpected court closures, which can cause delays.
  • Reports might also be delayed if it takes longer than expected to make contact with a professional reference or previous employer.
After you order a report, you can check the status at any time using your Report Manager.

Q: How do I check the status of a background check?

A: After you order a report, you can login to your account and check the current status in your Report Manager.

Q: What information do you provide in your reports?

A: We offer screening packages that include the most commonly used searches. You can also customize a background check to include all the searches you want for a specific position. A background check can provide:
  • Identity verification (Social Security Number Trace)
  • Criminal records
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • Credential verification
  • References
  • Civil court records
  • Credit reports
  • Other useful data
In some cases, the amount of data in a report will be determined by local and state laws. Backgrounds Online always provides the most complete and accurate information that is legally reportable.

Q: Is there information I cannot get from a background check?

A: Yes, some data is not permitted in a background check. This includes criminal records that have been expunged, convictions that occurred while the individual was a minor and credit scores. Laws that stipulate what information is reportable vary by jurisdiction. If you have questions about the availability of information in a specific area, please contact us for assistance.

Q: What if I just want a single report, not a complete background check?

A: Backgrounds Online offers individual reports. While logged in to your account, click the Order Reports link and you'll see the option to run a single report.

Q: Do you have a list of all the searches you offer?

A: Yes, you can see all of our preset packages and individual reports on our Products page.

Q: Are criminal results obtained directly from the courts?

A: Yes. When you run a County Criminal Court Search the records are pulled directly from the courthouse. This gives you the most accurate, reliable and current information. We also offer statewide and nationwide searches to cover a larger area. If we find records during a nationwide search, then a county search is required. This is done to ensure your report includes the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Q: What do I do if you find a criminal record?

A: If an applicant or employee has a criminal record, you will simply need to review the details and determine how to proceed. Should you decide not to hire an applicant due to a criminal record, then you must first provide them with a Pre-Adverse Action Letter and a copy of the Summary of Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The applicant must be allowed time to review the results of their report and dispute them if necessary. Assuming there is no dispute, the next step is to provide an Adverse Action Letter with another copy of the Summary of Rights. Backgrounds Online provides all of these forms at no charge to our clients.

Q: Do you offer Social Security Number Traces Online?

A: Yes. Once you start an account with Backgrounds Online you can run a Social Security Number Trace as a standalone request. This search is also included with every background check package.

Security & Compliance

Q: Does the applicant need to give his/her consent?

A: Yes, applicants must sign a disclosure and release form before you can run a background check on them. Backgrounds Online provides legally compliant release forms at no charge.

Q: Is the information I submit secure?

A: Yes, your information is secure. We place a high priority on data security and encryption. When you login to our website you are protected via 128-bit SSL certification. To help demonstrate our commitment to security, Backgrounds Online voluntarily underwent a Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 audit. Our SOC 2 report contained no exceptions, which shows that we meet the security standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Q: Do you have a SOC 2 report?

A: Yes, Backgrounds Online voluntarily underwent a 6-month audit from a third party CPA. This audit tested the security controls we have in place as well as the operating effectiveness of those controls. Our audit confirmed that we meet the criteria for the Trust Services Principles of Security and Confidentiality that were established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Learn more about our SOC 2 audit.

Q: Are your services FCRA compliant?

A: Yes, our background checks contain reportable data that is in compliance with FCRA regulations. All of our background screening professionals have earned their FCRA certification and we make a point of keeping up with federal and state laws that impact the background screening industry.

Q: Is Backgrounds Online PBSA Accredited?

A: Yes, Backgrounds Online is among the few employment screening firms to be accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association. This shows that we uphold the highest standards of:
  • Consumer Protection
  • Compliance
  • Business Practices
  • Client Education
  • Research and Verification Standards

Q: Can I run background checks after I hire an employee?

A: Yes, but you must first obtain written authorization from the employee. It is a common practice to run background checks on employees who are being considered for a promotion or a change of position. Some companies run annual background checks on their employees. This shows the employer if a person incurs something new on their record such as a criminal conviction or civil judgment. Annual reports are often part of an employee safety and security plan.

Q: How do I know if an employee gets a new criminal record?

A: Backgrounds Online offers ongoing Criminal Monitoring services. This is an easy, FCRA-compliant way to continually protect your business and make sure your staff remains eligible for employment. We monitor your employees to see if anyone incurs a new misdemeanor, felony or other conviction. If we find a new record, we'll let you know immediately so you can make informed business decisions. To get started, login and contact your Account Manager.

Q: What does Ban the Box mean for my business?

A: The Ban the Box movement calls for the removal of any question about criminal records from job applications. This is done to give people with minor or irrelevant records a chance to obtain employment. Employers who see that an applicant has checked the box, indicating they have been convicted of a crime, may be likely to reject the candidate without reviewing details about the case or other relevant information.

Many locations have adopted Ban the Box policies, thus making it illegal to ask about criminal records on applications in those areas. More cities, counties and states are likely to implement similar laws.

It is illegal to ask about criminal convictions on job applications in areas where the Ban the Box laws have been implemented. This can impact both local and national employers. National companies may have a single application that they use everywhere. However, if that application asks the applicant to check a box if they have a criminal conviction, then use of that form will likely be illegal in certain areas where the company is hiring.


Q: How do I provide consent for a background check?

A: If a business or organization requests a background check on you, then we will send you an email that asks you to consent to the background screening. If you do not consent, then no further action is required. We will not begin a background investigation until you provide consent. To provide consent, click the link in the email we send you. It leads to a secure, private flow that is only accessible to you. Go through each page, provide the requested information and agree to the screening. We will start your background check as soon as it is authorized by you.

Q: How long does it take to complete a background check?

A: Most background checks take 3 – 5 business days to complete.

When we run a background check, we go directly to county courthouses to get the most current and accurate records. Some courts have a backlog of requests or a limited number of clerks to look up the information we need. These factors can cause delays in the screening process.

Q: Can an employer decide not to hire me based on my background check?

A: Yes, but first they must inform you of that possibility. They will send you a Pre-Adverse notification that lets you know that they are considering denial of employment. You will also receive a copy of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and a copy of your background check.

You will have a reasonable amount of time to review your report. If you believe the information in your report is incorrect, you may file a dispute.

A final hiring decision cannot be made until the dispute is resolved.

Q: How do I get a copy of my background report?

A: If Backgrounds Online ran a background check for you on behalf of a third party business or organization, then you may request a copy of your report from them. If you were notified about your background screening within the last 60 days, then you are entitled to a free copy of your report from us. Please submit your request in writing and include the following information:
  • Legal name
  • Date of Birth
  • Last four digits of your Social Security Number
  • Copy of a your photo ID
  • Name of the company that requested the background check
  • Current mailing address
We will send your complete report via the US Postal Service. Send your requests to:

Backgrounds Online
1915 21st Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Q: Can I run a background check on myself?

A: Yes, Backgrounds Online offers a service that allows you to run a background check on yourself. This gives you the opportunity to know what information is available in your background report, verify all the information is correct and see what employers could learn about you.

To get a background check on yourself, please visit our website iamscreened.com.

Q: How much does a personal background check cost?

A: Our website iamscreened.com offers three convenient background check packages, starting at only $19.95. Review our background check options and select the one that works best for you.

Q: What if my background check contains incorrect information?

A: While it is rare, now and then a background check can contain incorrect information. If you received a copy of your report and feel something is not correct, please contact us to file a dispute.

General Questions

Q: Why should I choose Backgrounds Online?

A: There are many reasons to choose Background Online:

Service: We have a strong customer service attitude. We're here to help, answer questions and guide you through the screening process via phone, email or online chat. Our staff is available from 5am to 5pm PT. Whether you run a single background check or thousands of reports, we provide unparalleled customer service.

Compliance: All of our screening professionals are FCRA-certified and we are among the few screening firms to be fully accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. We only provide current, reportable data that can legally be used to make informed business decisions.

Customization: Background Online offers preset packages, individual reports and customizable background checks. We'll help you get the exact report you need for any position. If you have questions about what searches are right for you, then our expert staff is available to answer questions.

Security: We provide advanced, in-house data management. Our web services are behind a secure firewall that utilizes a 128 bit encryption over SSL. To demonstrate our commitment to security, we voluntarily underwent a comprehensive 6-month Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 audit. Our SOC 2 report contained no exceptions.

Have questions about what we can do for you? Contact us to learn more about the Backgrounds Online difference.

Q: Do you screen tenants/loan applicants/nannies?

A: No, Backgrounds Online specializes in screening potential hires and current employees. We do not provide any other screening services.

Q: Can you provide me with my personal employment history?

A: Unfortunately, no. Employment history does not exist in a public records database outside of government agencies such as the IRS or Social Security Administration.

Q: What if I have a question that isn't answered here?

A: We are happy to answer questions via phone, email and live chat. Please contact us using the method that is most convenient for you.