Criminal Background Checks.

Update: See the end of this article for some important updates.

Recently I’ve been looking into what options are available for folks who need to run criminal background checks. This field has been changing rapidly over the past several years with technological advances and if you have been using a provider for a long period of time it may be worth your time to consider whether that provider is still the best and most cost effective for your needs.

In this article I’m going to focus specifically on criminal background checks with a focus on the needs of non-profit organizations such as churches. I’ll be discarding without note the various providers who while providing background checks (including criminal) are not meant to be used officially to perform such checks and which may not include all the information that a provider giving official checks might provide.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. in the comments section to this article.

  • IntegraScan – Offers background checks starting at $18.95 for a state-based check (only checks for criminal background in one state) and then progresses to $28.95 for a nationwide check (for criminal background in all states) with the final option with even more information clocking in at $49.95. They do offer bulk pricing, but you have to contact them for further information.
  • SentryLink – Offers criminal background checks for $19.95. Has a bulk pricing program one can contact them about. Also offers other reports – such as SSN traces and motor vehicle records.
  • BackgroundChecks – Clocks in at a stunning $49.95 for a nationwide criminal background check!
  • USSearch – Starts at $14.95 for their basic search, which includes state criminal background check and peaks out at $59.95 for their most comprehensive. They do offer bulk pricing, but again, must contact for quote.
  • Intelius – A nationwide background check clocks in at $29.95.
  • IntelliCorp InTouchPricing starts at $16.15 for a state criminal background check, then $17.95 for a nationwide check, and their most comprehensive is $58.45. But this is a consumer oriented product.
  • IntelliCorp – The corporate arm of IntelliCorp InTouch. No pricing is available, one must request an account and await a call to find out about pricing.
  • CrimCheck – No public pricing available, must contact.
  • BackGroundPI – $15.95 for Criminal Background search. The site lacks enough detail and references, but the pricing is good. Would require further research to see if legitimate/worthwhile.
  • eFindOutTheTruth – Site design is confusing and overwhelming, but pricing is very good and one can build custom background checks with only the desired features.

Based on my brief review of the sites, pricing, and etc. I would probably lean towards Intelius or IntelliCorp. They both offer a professional image and reasonable prices. But in the end, the best deal (for churches/non-profits) appears to be Group Publishing’s Church Volunteer Central (CVC). CVC costs $100/year and includes a wide variety of resources for running a church/non-profit and training/leading volunteers. It also includes a partnership with Lexus Nexus to perform criminal background checks.

Their basic background check is $9 and includes a national criminal search. For $23 one can add criminal records at a local county court. They also have a number of other packages available.

Update (9/24/11):

As I mentioned above, the CVC package seemed to be the best deal…but the process is quite painful, so I’ve gone with another alternative. Group (which owns CVC) partners with Lexus Nexus to provide the inexpensive background checks mentioned above, unfortunately Lexus Nexus has a frustratingly manual process before one can begin utilizing the background check service. This includes filling out detailed paperwork and faxing or emailing it to them (around fourteen pages worth) along with providing several forms of business identification (not all of which are always readily available) and several vendor verification forms (businesses which will verify that they do business with you and that you are who you say you are).

This in and of itself is a bit of a nuisance, but what really frustrated me was the technological aspect. On the form it asked questions about the IP address that would be used to access their system. Granted, I have a semi-static IP since it is a FiOS connection – but that isn’t truly static and I wasn’t looking forward to what I assume is a manual process to update the external IP records with Lexus Nexus when it changes.

I did some more searching and found that LifeWay, another major Christian company, had partnered with BackgroundChecks to offer affordable checks as well – and that their process was basically digital and simple. I went with them even though the price is perhaps $2-$3 more per check b/c of the ease. I setup my account and launched a background check on myself (as a test) without any problems. So far I’m pretty impressed.

Now, I think Lexis Nexus requires all the extra hoop jumping b/c they are providing information related to one’s financial state – and I can understand the need to maintain the confidentiality of this information, but in the case of churches and other non-profits, we don’t want to perform financial background checks – just make sure that criminal background checks are clear (e.g. no convictions for pedophilia).

For those who are interested, here is a link to the LifeWay co-brand page for background checks.

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