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Why Background Check Companies Charge Access Fees

Posted by Ryan Howard on Fri, Sep 23, 2016


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. After all, data seems to be readily available if you simply take the time to look for it. In fact, this is one of our most commonly asked questions. As is our usual VeriFirst style, we aim to educate and be transparent to clients who use our service.

Allow us to explain why professional background screening companies have access fees.

What background check fees and Why?

While some data may be available through third-party databases at little cost, other information is only available directly from the original source and is subject to data acquisition fees. When the 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. 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 $65 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.

Screening clients may also pay a fee to the background check company for their service. Among other things, professional background screening companies provide value in their ability to aggregate large amounts of consumer data from thousands of sources into one consumer report.

See also: Cost of a Background Check - How Much Should You Pay

VeriFirst is upfront about these fees

VeriFirst is upfront about these fees with every client. We make sure that when the client is deciding on a screening package for their business, we work with them to better understand their office locations and applicant address history. We make recommendations that will help maintain a high level of integrity of the consumer reports and background checks. We also help select a package that can reduce possible Access Fees for certain searches. 

When any client signs up with VeriFirst, we provide our annual fee guide so they know what to expect. For more information, see the link below.

Click for a detailed price table of background check fees:

Download our Background Check Access Fees

Topics: Cost of a Background Check