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Why Do Background Check Companies Charge Access Fees?

Posted by Ryan Howard on Fri, Aug 09, 2019

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In the age of the internet and free information, a point of frustration for some business or property owners is paying fees to background screening companies. Data seems to be readily available if you simply take the time to look for it, right? This is one of our most commonly asked questions. As is our usual style, we aim to educate and be transparent to clients who use our service and those who are doing research.

Here's why professional background screening companies have access fees.

Why Pay for Background Checks?

For those looking to get background information at a lower cost, you may choose to do a "quick Internet search".  This seems efficient and easy, especially when you don't want to lose out on a good candidate. The problem with grabbing data from the Internet is that it isn't verifiable. There could be false positives, missing or inaccurate information. A professional background check company, or CRA (Consumer Reporting Agency), will do the manual labor of gathering thorough data, help explain that data that you're receiving, verify accuracy and work with you to honor consumer rights and stay compliant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Professional background screening companies also provide value in their ability to aggregate large amounts of consumer data from thousands of sources into one consumer report.

What are Background Check Access Fees?

While some consumer data may be available through federal or national databases at little cost, higher quality and more accurate information is only available directly from the original source and is subject to data acquisition fees. These "access fees" are supplemental charges that are added to the standard background check price.

If the original source is a state criminal record repository, county courthouse, Department of Motor Vehicles, and so forth, the background check company is often charged a supplemental fee to gain access to this information. These access fees may vary depending on the origination of the data and the depth of the screening and not all screening reports have them. For example:

  • No Access Fee: Identity Verification, National Criminal Database, National Sex Offender, Federal District Criminal Court, Credit History Report
  • Possible Access Fee: County Criminal Courts (only about 5% of US counties charge an additional fee), Employment Verification and Education Verification are subject to a fee.
  • Access Fee: Statewide Criminal Search (always a fee, price dependent on the state - New York is an extreme example at $95 per report), MVR Driver License Records also have state required fees.

Get the full picture: Download the Access Fee price table

Since not all county court houses charge an access fee, many screening companies choose to exclude the cost from their standard reporting and only pass through the charge when or if applicable. Such access fees are often mandated by local governments or jurisdictions and should be publicly available to confirm you’re not being over charged.

Cost of a Background Check:  How Much Should You Pay?

Background Checks Fee Transparency

VeriFirst is upfront about these fees with every client. We work with every client to ensure the best cost structure and timeline for their needs. We make recommendations that will help maintain a high level of integrity of the consumer reports and background checks. We also provide our annual fee guide so they know what to expect. For more information, see the link below.

See How VeriFirst Performs  Background Checks and Drug Screening

Topics: Cost of a Background Check