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Sterling Background Check Review

Sterling offers 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 logo for Crazy Egg Sterling Background Check review

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 following background check companies:

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

Checkr leverages 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.

Asurint offers 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.

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.

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. 

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

Sterling Verifications

Screenshot of Sterling Verifications webpage showing how their automation technology delivers fast turnaround times

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

Screenshot from Sterling Workplace Monitoring webpage showing how Sterling protects your organization from threats

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. 

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

Screenshot from Sterling Drug and Health Screening webpage explaining how their expertise can help you optimize your program

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

Screenshot from Sterling Fingerprinting webpage explaining how they have convenient fingerprinting locations near you and your candidates

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.

Sterling in Summary

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. 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.


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