Sterling Background Check Review - The Good and Bad for 2023 (2023)

Sterlingoffers powerful recruiting services and products, including verification and employee auditing, to build trust and safety between an organization and its employees and business partners. It also goes the extra mile to perform detailed criminal record checks, covering over 2,300 county court records (Sterling claims it has access to 90% of the criminal databases all over the US), using cutting-edge technology and strategic human touch. With over 40,000 businesses trusting Sterling’s advanced employee background check services, it’s safe to say this is a company you can rely on.

Sterling Compared to the Best Background Check Companies

Sterling is great for background checks, but its expertise is mostly restricted to criminal records. If you’re looking for a more elaborate solution to carry out in-depth background checks, consider the followingbackground check companies:

GoodHireensures thorough background checks and fast turnarounds while presenting the results in an accessible and easy-to-read format.Get a custom quote today.

Checkrleverages AI and machine learning to quickly and accurately verify the identities of gig workers.Sign up now to run your first background check for free.

Asurintoffers custom background checking solutions along with efficient and reliable customer service, with phone, live chat, and email support assistance.Talk to a rep to customize a package to your exact needs.

Sterling: The Good and The Bad

Just like any other background check company on the market, Sterling has its fair set of pros and cons. For instance, while it gives you access to tons of elaborate data, it doesn’t perform credit checks. Sterling integrates with several popular ATS and HR apps, but it doesn’t have responsive customer service.

(Video) 2022 Background Screening Compliance in Review and What You Need to Know for 2023

Below, we’ll break down the pros and cons of Sterling in more detail.

What Sterling Is Good At

Sterling shines when it comes to performing accurate and fast criminal record checks. It can identify the address history connected to a social security number using its extensive database, all the while ensuring compliance and safe data handling. The company’s proprietary software tools, CourtDirect and SmartData, further enhance its checking efforts. Top it off with its ability to integrate with popular HR and ATS software, and you have a well-rounded solution to streamline recruitment and hiring at your organization.

Extensive criminal background checks:Sterling offers a diverse range of standard checks, including a county-level criminal history check search and an OFAC Terrorist Watchlist Check for detailed criminal history checks. This is particularly useful for high-security industries and government agencies who want detailed info on their employees to protect their assets, clients, and industry partners. Admittedly, not all users need these advanced features, but if you’re looking for a reliable solution to perform in-depth criminal activity record checks, Sterling comes right at the top.

Faster turnaround times:Sterling reduces turnaround times by up to 50% without compromising search accuracy. It achieves this through automation and strategic human touch, ensuring faster, high-quality background check results. Sterling also has a proprietary CourtDirect technology that provides direct online digital access to over 90% of US criminal search records. Additionally, Sterling’s SmartData technology automates the end-to-end background criminal check process, including matching candidate data and applying customized order rules. This results in a faster time-to-hire twin, keeping your organization ahead of the competition. Full disclosure: Sterling isn’t the fastest when it comes to background check reviews, but it’s still a fairly quick service.

Convenient third-party integration facility:Easily integrate Sterling with several popular ATS and HR apps, including Paycor, Jobvite, Bullhorn, Greenhouse, SmartRecruiters, and LinkedIn Talent Hub. This will help you streamline your recruitment and hiring efforts, minimizing unnecessary time wastage or data loss.

Rich feature offering:Sterling‘s base plan includes checking criminal records of court houses in all locations your applicant claims to live or lived. It also has court researchers to find and obtain paper-based records for a more comprehensive level of background checks. But that’s not it—you also get several other useful features. Employment screening involves Sterling looking through criminal records archives by name and Social Security number (SSN trace) and cross-checking undisclosed aliases and addresses. Additional background checks and forms and status tracking features allow users to add customized background screening (for instance, employment and education) and track the status of an online background check, respectively.

(Video) Sterling Live: 2022 Background Screening Compliance in Review and What You Need to Know for 2023

Effective compliance and data handling:Sterling takes compliance and data handling seriously, adhering to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other applicable federal, state, and local regulations. It doesn’t allow businesses to purchase any reports without getting explicit authorization from the individual in question and providing the applicable disclosures. Once an applicant authorizes for a background check, they agree to everything except a credit check. Sterling also doesn’t have a stringent historical data clause and readily provides data older than seven years (which is the industry standard for historical data reporting) upon client request.

What Sterling Is Lacking

Sterling’s biggest drawback is its lack of accountability and support to clients. Most user reviews on popular software review platforms lament the company’s unresponsive and poor customer service, where they have to continuously reach out to Sterling to resolve doubts. The company also doesn’t offer a free trial, so you can’t test-drive the platform features. A slow interface is another issue that makes Sterling comparatively slower than the competition.

Doesn’t offer personalized customer service:One of the main shortcomings of Sterling is its unresponsive and lackluster customer service. Most of the queries receive automated responses and requests, prolonging the process to get in touch with a real customer support agent. Those who manage to talk to an actual agent find them efficient and, at times, unaccommodating to resolve their issues.

Doesn’t offer a free trial:Sterling doesn’t offer users a free trial, which means you have to buy its service if you like what you see. While its sales support team gives you all the details you’ll need about how the platform works and what you can do with it, it falls short compared to trying Sterling firsthand to determine its suitability.

Sluggish interface:Several Sterling users find its user interface dull, uninviting, and slow. It tends to lag and takes a considerably longer time to load, which can get annoying when working on important tasks. While it does integrate nicely with other offerings like post-employment monitoring, it’s less streamlined compared to other background check companies like GoodHire or Checkr.

Sterling Options and Pricing

Besides comprehensive criminal background checks, Sterling also offers verification, workforce monitoring, drug and health screening, and fingerprinting services. Each of these services is designed to help you build a workforce of strong and trustworthy employees and ensure the complete safety of your organizational assets and data.

(Video) How Sterling Backcheck Runs Background Checks

Note that Sterling hasn’t published any pricing information on its website. You’ll have toreach out to its sales team to get a custom quote.

Sterling Verifications

Sterling Background Check Review - The Good and Bad for 2023 (2)

Sterling offers a robust suite of scalable verification services that include employment, education, professional reference, credential, and the Department of Transportation. Its employment verification search is conducted on a global scale to verify a candidate’s employment history and records with payroll, HR, and third-party providers. This also covers periods of traditional employment, as well as military history, self-employment, and temporary assignments.

The company uses a combination of technology and a consultative approach to verify candidate identities and ensure they possess the skills and experience they claim to have. You’ll know exactly who you’re hiring and have verified information concerning their educational background, job history, and other credentials.

What’s more, Sterling uses a powerful data fulfillment technology to facilitate smarter and safer hiring decisions. Sterling owns and maintains a sophisticated database that helps it identify validated contacts in 103,000+ entities, ensuring a quicker verification turnaround time.

Sterling Workforce Monitoring

Sterling Background Check Review - The Good and Bad for 2023 (3)

Sterling‘s workforce monitoring service provides ongoing protection against violence, litigation, fraud, and theft.

With the company’s innovative Employee Risk Alert tool, you can proactively and efficiently manage workplace risk. It’s a post-hire service that provides near real-time comprehensive risk alerts on your employee’s criminal behavior that may increase liability and risk through activities like assault, fraud, and DUI.

(Video) What Does an Employment Background Check Include?

Keeping up-to-date with your employee’s criminal activities helps you protect your organization from workplace violence, potential exposure to threats, negligent retention litigation, and risks of fraud and theft.

Sterling Drug and Health Screening

Sterling Background Check Review - The Good and Bad for 2023 (4)

Your organization’s employment drug testing and health screening program is a driving factor behind a productive and safe work environment. Sterling lets you unify your drug and health screening program to deliver an efficient, single-source experience.

Under this service, you get an extensive suite of post and pre-employment drug and health screening services and electronic drug and health registration across a national clinic network. Sterling provides an integral connection between its in-house compliance experts and your specific business challenges and compliance requirements to ensure you’re always adhering to applicable regulations like OSHA and DOT.

Sterling Fingerprinting

Sterling Background Check Review - The Good and Bad for 2023 (5)

Sterling‘s fingerprint-based background check service is another one of its efforts to create a safer workplace. Regardless of whether you conduct fingerprint background checks to comply with regulations or to carry out a more thorough candidate background check, Sterling has got you covered.

Sterling’s fingerprinting service provides an Authorized Recipient with a Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) report (also known as a “rap sheet“) directly from the FBI database that contains the following information:

  • Biographic information (full name, SSN, date of birth)
  • Arrest information (misdemeanors, felonies, infractions)
  • Dispositions (arrest outcomes i.e., charged, acquitted, or convicted)

Note that Sterling’s subsidiary, Sterling Identity, is an FBI-approved company to channel fingerprints. Therefore, it’s easy (and safe) for Sterling to facilitate fingerprint checks for employment and licensing.

(Video) ShareAble For Hires Review 2023 | Best Background Checks Reviews

Sterling in Summary

Sterlingis a reliable background check company to build a trustworthy workforce by thoroughly evaluating the character of potential hires based on their employment and legal history. Besides standard criminal checks, it also offers more extensive checks for companies that handle sensitive data, hold valuable assets, or deal with vulnerable people.

But if you’re particular about working with a company that also offers reliable customer support and want a faster UI, you can always try out other options like GoodHire and Checkr.See our top picks for the best background check companies.


Sterling Background Check Review - The Good and Bad for 2023? ›

Sterling is a reliable background check company to build a trustworthy workforce by thoroughly evaluating the character of potential hires based on their employment and legal history.

Is Sterling a good background check legitimate? ›

Sterling is a reliable background check company to build a trustworthy workforce by thoroughly evaluating the character of potential hires based on their employment and legal history.

Does sterling call previous employers? ›

How does Sterling RISQ conduct Employment Screening? We conduct our employment screening by going directly to the source to objectively verify your candidate's claims. This may involve contacting the relevant government authorities, local or national police agencies, and prior employers and referees.

Does sterling contact your current employer? ›

We will never contact a current employer without first having full permission from a candidate.

What does Level 1 mean on a sterling background check? ›

Getting a level one background check means that the potential employee's personal details are verified. A level one check may also check for aliases that the applicant has used based on their date of birth, social security number and birth date.

What does review mean on sterling background check? ›

It means that you back ground check is being reviewed and they will get back with you upon receiving it back...

How do I know if I passed my background check sterling? ›

Click the View Report link in the background check column in the applicants table on the Manage Applicants page. Or, the link is also available from the Applicant Profile > Statuses tab. Sterling will authenticate the user who is attempting to view the report.

Do employers actually verify employment history? ›

If a position is an entry-level job, most employers verify the previous three years of employment. However, more senior-level positions and jobs requiring more skills should require more years of employment verification such as the last five to seven years.

How does HR verify past employment? ›

Some hiring managers do it themselves, reaching out directly (typically via phone) to your current or previous employers to request official verification. Alternatively, employers may use professional background screening firms and/or an employment verification service such as The Work Number® from Equifax.

Do they call my current employer for background check? ›

Most times, they will speak with the human resources department or your previous supervisor. However, employers most often contact previous employers to verify you are accurately representing your experience with them, rather than get a review of your time with them.

Should I give permission to contact current employer for background check? ›

Get Written Permission: Always sure to obtain written consent from the employee for the verification of their employment. Use Trusted Sources: Verify the employment information from the employee's current employer directly. Use official HR contact information or company websites to find the right person to speak with.

What if I don't get a response after background check? ›

If you still do not get any response, it means your employer is still engaged in the background check of applicants. Hence, you must wait for at least a week to follow up next time for the required details.

Should you say yes to contact current employer? ›

Summary. To answer, “May we contact this employer?” you should say yes unless you don't want your current employer to know you're looking for a job or there's some other legitimate reason why they can't be contacted. This shows hiring managers that you have nothing to hide and allows them to learn more about you.

What does Level 2 mean on a sterling background check? ›

Level 2 screening is a comprehensive criminal background screening that includes fingerprint-based check for statewide criminal history records through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and national criminal history records through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

What is the lowest level background check? ›

Level 1. We would consider a “Level 1” screening to be a name-based background check that includes a nationwide database search as well as one jurisdiction (or county) court search. Typically, this is the area where the individual currently lives. A level one check can also include a single employment verification.

What takes the longest on a background check? ›

Criminal checks

If a candidate's criminal history is limited to one state, or one home country, then the check can take one to two business days. However, verifying international records takes much longer. If the candidate has emigrated or worked in different countries, this process can stretch up to, or past, 20 days.

How do I know if I passed my background check accurate? ›

Most background check and employment reporting companies have websites that include information about how to dispute false or inaccurate results. If you feel your results are incorrect, consider asking your potential employer for the information of the company with which they completed the background check.

What does no in review in background check mean? ›

It means that you didn't pass and you can't work at that page.

Should I be honest on my background check? ›

Should You Be Honest on Your Job Application If You Have a Criminal Record? As painful as it might be, it's important to answer questions about your past with honesty. Some companies use job applications to screen candidates, while other organizations use them simply as a formal document required by Human Resources.

Does onboarding mean I passed background check? ›

If an employer decides to move forward with hiring, onboarding, and training you, then your background check was likely deemed acceptable. If you did not pass the background check, then the employer is bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to notify you.

Does decisional mean failed background check? ›

What does “decisional” mean on a background check report? “Decisional” means that the employer has configured the results in the background check to require additional review by the employer or the property management company.

What is a red flag in a background check? ›

While no one is perfect, factual issues will cause managers to not consider a candidate. What constitutes a red flag can vary by company and position, but the most common red flags are criminal records, discrepancies, and derogatory comments.

Can employers see if you were fired? ›

You are right to be aware that your prospective employer may check on the reasons you left your job. Most employers conduct background or reference checks during the interview process. If you've been terminated for cause, it may well come up during their investigation.

Do background companies call previous employers? ›

Check credentials

A background check helps to verify your previous employers and that you have the relevant skills an employer wants. To check your credentials, a prospective employer calls your previous employers directly to verify the accuracy of jobs and dates of employment in your application.

What shows up on your employment history? ›

Generally speaking, a background check for employment may show identity verification, employment verification, credit history, driver's history, criminal records, education confirmation, and more.

Can HR refuse to verify employment? ›

Unless legally required, employers are not required to fill out employment verification letters for past or present employees. Companies that prefer not to provide these verification letters will often include that information as part of their employee contracts, but not everyone is aware of this.

Can a former employer refuses to verify employment? ›

There are no official laws that require employers to verify the employment of former employees. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stipulates that it's illegal to refuse to provide information based on race, sex, color, and other non-job-related factors.

How long does it take HR to verify employment? ›

Employment Verification Turnaround Time

While the majority of employment verifications can be completed in less than 72 hours, there are several reasons it may take longer.

How do I pass employment verification? ›

7 Tips for Ensuring You Pass Employment Background Checks
  1. Make sure you're well-prepared for these checks. ...
  2. Check your credit. ...
  3. Review your driving record. ...
  4. Be informed about banned substances. ...
  5. Contact former employers and ask for copies of your employment records. ...
  6. Research local employment laws. ...
  7. Beat employers to it.
Sep 23, 2020

What can a new employer ask an old employer? ›

Besides asking if the former employee is eligible for re-hire, employers may ask additional questions, such as “What were the circumstances surrounding his termination?” They may also ask “Is she/he under a non-compete contract or are they free to come to work for us because we're in the same industry?” This ...

Can HR tell your boss about employment verification? ›

Verification of Employment

If the company inquires further about salary, HR can give out that information as well, but it has the right to ask for express consent from the applicant. You do not have to give out any information whatsoever, including employment verification data and salary information.

Does your new job call your old job? ›

A hiring manager may reach out to you directly or ask during an interview for elaboration on your experience with a previous employer before speaking with them. While you might expect your previous employer to speak extensively about you behind your back as they have nothing to lose, this isn't always the case.

Can an employer request to see your phone? ›

In Riley v. California, the Court held that police need warrants to search the vast amount of information on a person's cellphone. Employees have taken this to mean that their employer cannot look at their cell phones.

Can a company call my previous employer without permission? ›

Legally, yes, you can contact references without permission and backdoor reference checking isn't illegal. The decision is up to you, but it's highly recommended that you respect the candidate's request not to contact certain references.

Should I be concerned if my background check is taking forever? ›

A delayed background check can lead to anxiousness whether you're a job candidate or a hiring manager. Thankfully, they are rarely a cause for concern. Background checks can be extensive processes that require strict attention to detail.

Can I ask why I failed a background check? ›

1. Know and exercise your rights. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to know if you failed a background check, the agency that ran the check, and how to contact them. You are also entitled to a copy of the report and have the right to dispute inaccurate findings.

How do I ask if I passed a background check? ›

Start with the company you've applied to for an update about your background check's status. If that doesn't work due to nonresponse or lack of information, you can also try to reach out to the company running the background check if you have that information.

Do employers call your current job? ›

Most recruiters and interviewers understand that job searches can be confidential and won't contact your current employer until they clear it with you first. So answering “no” to the question, “may we contact this employer?” isn't uncommon or unacceptable.

What's a good reason to put why you left a job? ›

Some good reasons for leaving a job include company downturn, acquisition, merger or restructuring as well as the desire for change — be it advancement, industry, environment, leadership or compensation. Family circumstances may also be a factor.

Can a previous employer disclose why you left? ›

Employers are not prohibited by law from disclosing to a potential employer - who calls for a reference about a former employee - the reasons that the employee left, as long as the information they share is truthful.

How strict is sterling background check? ›

Once an applicant authorizes for a background check, they agree to everything except a credit check. Sterling also doesn't have a stringent historical data clause and readily provides data older than seven years (which is the industry standard for historical data reporting) upon client request.

What is Tier 1 background check? ›

Tier 1 is the investigation for positions designated as low-risk, non-sensitive. It is also the minimum level of investigation for a final credentialing determination for physical and logical access.

Why would a job do a second background check? ›

Double screening is typically done when there are changes within the business or with the employee. The re-screening process is conducted the same way as the initial background check but can include additional questions relevant to the specific role.

What does Level 1 mean on sterling background check? ›

Level 1 generally refers to a state only name based check AND an employment history check. Level 2 generally refers to a state and national fingerprint based check and consideration of disqualifying offenses, and applies to those employees designated by law as holding positions of responsibility or trust.

What does Level 1 mean on a background check from Sterling background check? ›

Getting a level one background check means that the potential employee's personal details are verified. A level one check may also check for aliases that the applicant has used based on their date of birth, social security number and birth date.

What looks bad on a background check? ›

There are many reasons why a candidate may “fail” a background check, from criminal history to discrepancies in employment or education history, or an unsafe driving record or failed drug test.

How far back do most background checks go? ›

Pre-employment background checks commonly used by employers typically cover 7 years of criminal records, but can go back further depending on federal and state laws and what type of search is requested. Bankruptcies can go back as far as 10 years. Employment credit checks go back a minimum of 7 years.

Why is my background check taking 2 months? ›

Your background check includes a screening, like employment or education verification, that depends on verifying information with third parties. These verifications often require contacting an individual or an organization, which may cause a delay in results.

What does Sterling ask for employment verification? ›

Sterling verifies employment with Department of Transportation-regulated companies. It confirms job title, start/end dates, reason for leaving, prior accidents, injuries, and other DOT mandated info.

How accurate is the sterling drug test? ›

SterlingONE Drug Testing and the eScreen test is considered the best 5-panel drug test available and has an accuracy of 100%.

Is sterling background check automated? ›

Sterling's criminal background check, identity verification, and background screening solutions - powered by our proprietary automation technology - will give you confidence to take the next step and bring those top candidates onto your team while ensuring the safety of your organization.

Does sterling background check check social media? ›

We screen behaviors on social media, as well as perform a thorough search on the publicly available web, that can easily be configured to reflect your hiring standards. Sterling leverages technology that can be deployed in nearly every country and works across hundreds of languages.

How serious is employment verification? ›

Employment verification can also reveal false employment claims, gaps in employment, or fabrication of job titles. Employment verifications are an important part of the pre-employment screening process because they help reveal if your candidates are trustworthy and a good fit for the job.

What does level 1 mean? ›

Key Takeaways. Level 1 is a type of trading screen used in stock trading that displays real-time quotes for the national best bid and offer in a security. With the advent of the internet and online trading, Level 1 quotes are now widely offered, and investors can access them for free.

What is the best pre-employment drug test? ›

Urinalysis – A urine test is the most common form of pre-employment drug testing and is typically conducted once a conditional offer of employment has been sent. A urine test can show traces of drug use even after the effects of the drug have worn off and remain in the body for an extended period of time.

What is the most common false positive drug test? ›

Amphetamine (more on this below) and methamphetamine are the most commonly reported false positive.

What is Sterling testing? ›

Sterling Testing Systems, Inc. provides outsourced pre-employment screening and background checking services.

Do background checks actually contact employers? ›

A background check helps to verify your previous employers and that you have the relevant skills an employer wants. To check your credentials, a prospective employer calls your previous employers directly to verify the accuracy of jobs and dates of employment in your application.

How long does it take to get drug test results back from Sterling? ›

The process for conducting a Sterling drug test is simple. The individual being tested provides a urine sample, which is then sent to a lab for analysis. Results are typically available within a few days.

What does unperformable mean on a background check? ›

What does “unperformable” mean? Certain reports will be returned as “unperformable” if we were unable to process the search. This is typically caused by invalid order information, i.e. An incorrect drivers license number or if additional information was requested and not provided by the candidate.

Do background checks show text messages? ›

Background checks

Private investigators may not have access to calls or text messages. However, they can still gather sensitive records, which can significantly impact the direction of an investigation.

Do employers actually check your social media? ›

Do Employers Check Social Media (You Bet They Do!) It has become an increasingly common question among job applicants: Do employers check social media? The answer: Yes. In fact, 70% of them do, according to a CareerBuilder study.

What all shows on a background check? ›

What Shows Up On A Background Check Result
  • Personal Information. ...
  • Criminal Record. ...
  • Employment History. ...
  • Credit History. ...
  • Civil Court Records. ...
  • Educational History. ...
  • Social Media Profiles. ...
  • Property Information.
Mar 8, 2023


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