Information on Background Checks
Check out this helpful background check guide.
Tiffany Smith, Senior Associate Editor
Articles> Information on Background Checks
mom kissing daughters cheek

Obtaining and reviewing a background check is an essential step in finding the best care; however, it’s important to understand that it is only part of the process. Background checks can be helpful and uncover potential warning signs about candidates; however, background checks are not always 100% accurate or complete and are run based on the information provided by the member. As with all background checks, the background checks offered through vary in comprehensiveness. This guide provides in-depth information on what’s covered by each background check you can request through

Preliminary Background Check
Preferred Background Check
Preferred+ Background Check
Premier Background Check

Preliminary Background Check

The Preliminary Background Check is an automated search and should only be used as an initial screening tool, to help narrow your list of candidates. It can include the following:

  • Social Security Number Verification - The Social Security Number Verification is a search of credit bureau and public records databases to determine what name or names are associated with a particular Social Security number. This is not a check of the Social Security Administration's databases.
  • National Criminal Database Search - The National Criminal Database search can include misdemeanor and felony records; however, many states and counties do not make their data available online. Consequently there are large gaps in the coverage provided by this search. Online databases that are used to perform these checks may only be updated periodically, therefore, sometimes missing or omitting recent criminal record charges. Additionally, the majority of records contained in this database are convictions only; it generally does not include charges or arrests that do not result in a conviction. Click here to see what records are covered in your area.
  • Sex Offender Registry Search - The Sex Offender Registry Search covers all 50 states and may reveal information relative to people with histories of sexual crimes, the severity of those offenses, personal defendant identifiers and arrest dates. Typically only level 2 and level 3 sex offenders are included in the Sex Offender Registry.

Due to the limitations of the Preliminary Background Check, we strongly recommend you order a Preferred, Preferred+, or Premier Background Check on your lead candidate before making your final hiring decision.
Preferred Background Check

The Preferred Background Check is more comprehensive than the Preliminary Background Check and includes a review of Federal and State or County Courthouse public records, covering the counties the candidate is believed to have lived in the last 7 years. These records are searched via access to direct, real time links with a number of courthouses and, in some cases, by a nationwide network of court-runners located in each county.

The Preferred Background Check includes everything from the Preliminary Background Check, plus:

  • Federal Courthouse Records Search - The Federal Courthouse Records search is a search of the criminal records of the specific U.S. district court covering the region where a candidate has resided over the last seven years, for convictions of federal crimes (e.g., money laundering, counterfeiting, racketeering and crimes committed across state lines, etc.).
  • State/County Criminal Records Search - The State/County Criminal Records search is a search of criminal records in the states and/or counties the candidate has resided over the last seven years. The majority of records returned are convictions; it generally does not include charges or arrests that do not result in a conviction.

Preferred+ Background Check

Will your caregiver be driving your loved ones around? That might be the deciding factor when selecting how much background screening you need.

The Preferred+ Background Check includes everything from the Preferred Background Check, plus:

  • Motor Vehicle Record Check - The MVR check will report the following information, for the state where the license being checked was issued: status of the operator’s driving privileges, restrictions, expiration date, license type and class, endorsements, suspensions or revocations, violations, accidents, and DUI’s. If a candidate has ever had an incident, while being licensed by another state, since most states do not have reciprocity, only violations in the state where the license was issued will be returned.

Premier Background Check

Unlike the Preliminary, Preferred, and Preferred+ checks, which are mostly automated searches essentially untouched by human hands, the Premier Background Check is prepared by investigative professionals, who are involved in each step of the process, from data entry to analysis to report preparation. PFC Information Services, the background check vendor who performs the Premier Background Check, works with a network of research specialists who go directly to the source to pull the most up-to-date and complete information available. PFC also utilizes comprehensive online sources obtained from state law enforcement agencies and statewide administrative offices of the courts.

The Premier Background Check includes:

  • SSN Verification - The Social Security Number Verification is a search of credit bureau and public records databases to determine what names and addresses are associated with the use of a particular Social Security number. This is not a check of the Social Security Administration's databases.
  • National Criminal Database - The National Criminal Database can include misdemeanor and felony records; however, many states and counties do not make their data available online. Consequently there are large gaps in the coverage provided by this search. Additionally, online databases that are used to perform these checks may only be updated periodically, therefore, sometimes missing or omitting recent criminal record charges.
  • National Sex Offender Registry - The National Sex Offender Registry is a national search of the U.S. Justice Department's Sex Offender Registry. All 50 states are included. The search is conducted in real time.
  • State/County Criminal Records Search - The State/County Criminal Records search includes both felony and misdemeanor records. PFC works with its own network of courthouse researchers, who are dispatched directly to the source to pull the most up-to-date and complete information available. PFC also gathers criminal data from premium online state criminal repositories and statewide court records, which are provided by state law enforcement agenciesor state administrative offices of the courts. In addition, PFC individually conducts real time searches of county court databases. This search includes all names used by the caregiver (i.e. aliases) as disclosed by him or her to PFC or as otherwise developed or discovered by PFC in the conduct of its background check. In addition, all locations where the caregiver has lived in the last 7 years are included.
  • US District Court Criminal Records - The US District Court records are researched for criminal litigation in the state or states where the subject has lived during the last 7 years.
  • Driving Records - The DMV report can be obtained in every state, with the exception of Alaska, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Generally, violations remain on the DMV report for three years, although convictions for serious offenses are reported for 5 years or more, depending on the state. Convictions for DUI or "wet reckless" are of critical importance, as they can point to substance abuse problems.
  • National Bankruptcy Records - A National Bankruptcy Records search will show if the candidate has filed for bankruptcy ad, if so, whether the bankruptcy was classified as a chapter 7 or 13. Additional debtors, assets, liabilities, and filing discharge dates are included.
  • National Wants & Warrants - The National Wants and Warrants search includes any open, extraditable warrants pertaining to the candidate.
  • Civil Restraining Orders - The Civil Restraining Order search will uncover civil restraining orders filed against the candidate or filed by the candidate against another individual. Restraining orders are frequently filed in the context of domestic disputes. Civil restraining orders will be searched in the current address and the permanent address of the candidate.

Unlike the Preliminary, Preferred, and Preferred+ Background Checks, the process for requesting a Premier Background Check is offline. If you request a Premier Background Check on a candidate and the candidate accepts your request, a member of our team will contact you to walk you through this simple and straightforward process.

Check out child care near you:
Waterford, CT
Las Vegas, NV
Barnhart, MO
Highlands Ranch, CO
Los Alamitos, CA
Or take a look at some other care options:
Or take a look at some other care options:
Get the right care—
right when you need it.
Get the right care—right when you need it.
Already a member? Sign in
(14) Comments
Savannah M.
Savannah M.
Do the families that are looking for a babysitter or nanny have to complete a background check? How do I know these are just crazy people pretending to have children? Sadly, in today's world you have to be cautious about these things.
December 20, 2014 at 10:55 PM Member Care Member Care
Hi Lisa! Thanks for the question! Anyone can create a profile for free, but we have options for Premium memberships for all of our members as well. If you are signing up as a care giver, you can create a profile, search for, and apply to jobs for free. Our preliminary background checks cost $9, and there are more comprehensive ones you can buy for additional fees as well. You are also able to pay a subscription fee to help you stand out more. Once you pay, you will show up higher and as a "Featured" member in search results. You would get the preliminary background check for free, and you are able to contact families who haven't even posted jobs yet on the site. As a family looking for care, you can post a job and search for caregivers, but in order to contact anyone you would need to upgrade your membership. I hope this helps answer your question!
March 14, 2014 at 11:46 AM
Lisa S
Lisa S
Owners of,

I have a question. Does it cost to sign up? Also if I read correctly, to sign up to be a sitter it cost $8 for a background check, correct?
March 9, 2014 at 10:41 PM
Member Care T.
Member Care T.
Hi Jazmin!
Great question! You can purchase a background check as a one time payment. However, our background checks do expire after one year, and once expired you will have to purchase another one. We hope this helps!
December 5, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Jazmin M.
Jazmin M.
Are these a one time payment?
November 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM Member Care Member Care
Hi Katie!

Great question. Our background checks would never send someone to your home. Background checks are searches through databases, registries and other public and private sources.

I hope this helps! Member Care Representative
November 5, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Katie O.
Katie O.
Do these background checks ever send someone to your home?
November 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM
Martha F.
Martha F.
Laura S., Thank you for sharing your concerns. As the Manager for the Member Care Team, I can tell you that Background Checks are helpful tools that allow people to make more informed hiring decisions. But, like all tools, they have their limitations.

The Standard Background Check should be used as a preliminary screening tool to narrow your list of candidates. It includes a social security number verification, Sex Offender Registry Search, and a search of the National Criminal Database. Each state/county determines what they report to the National Database, and it varies by state. To see exactly what is covered in your state we provide this document to all of our members. {}. In addition to results varying by jurisdiction, another limitation is that these types of background checks only uncover convictions, not arrests.

Another huge part of the process, which you did, is performing your own independent search on your candidates to narrow your search. Google their name to see if there is any news articles about them. Check your state/county public court records for any previous court cases. You should also try to locate them on Social Media networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Once you have narrowed your list and have interviewed candidates, we encourage you to always request an Enhanced Background Check on your top candidate before hiring. Enhanced Background Checks include everything the Standard covers plus in-person or online searches of county and Federal records, which provide the most accurate and up to date information and can uncover arrests that didn t result in a conviction. It also covers a caregiver's last 7 years of address history.

We wish you the best of luck with your caregiver search. If you want to talk to someone in Member Care, don t hesitate to ask us more questions at: 877-227-3115, Monday-Friday 10AM-6PM EST.
February 23, 2012 at 4:55 PM
Laura S.
Laura S.
Can you please let me know how a background check that I just ran on a babysitter came up clean but when I did my own google search I just found out that the girl was arrested for stealing pills from a hospital. Please let me know how this is possible!
February 17, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Stephanie S.
Stephanie S.
Hi everyone,
I'm Stephanie and I work at I wanted to make sure I responded to these comments (and thanks for taking time to comment--we love feedback) to clear up some of this confusion. Anytime you need clarification--we are happy to help!

If you are a provider (someone who provides care i.e. a babysitter) you can be proactive and run a standard background check on yourself. The cost is $8.00. Just so you know--if you ever sign up to be a Premium Provider, the cost of a standard background check is including in your Premium Membership.

If you are a seeker (someone who is seeking care i.e. a family looking to hire help), the cost for to run standard background checks on potential providers is FREE with your membership. You have unlimited access to as many as you would like to run. If you ever wanted to run an enhanced background check (there's more detail in it), it would be $59.00 per background check.

So, is a background check free--yes, it is for families who have joined. If you are a babysitter, nanny, etc and are a Basic member and have not opted to become a Premium Provider, you would have to pay $8.00. I agree--very confusing, but hopefully this helps.

Typically, babysitters and nannies will wait for families to run a background check on them (the babysitter doesn't have to pay for the standard background check and neither does the family as it's included in their membership if a family requests one) but there are some proactive babysitters who will run one on themselves so they can complete their profile. I doubt any of you have skeletons in your closet, and families appreciate seeing it already completed. You can wait until you are asked too--it's free for you then.

I hope this clears things up. Always, if you ever have questions or need clarification, feel free to ask! We are here to help. You can always call our awesome Member Care Team (who can recite this in their sleep--they are THAT GOOD!) at 1-877-227-3115. The lines are open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. -6:00 p.m. EST. If you call during off-hours, leave a message and someone will get back to you. :o)

Deborah, Khristina, Shannon, and Ashley--thanks for your feedback. This helps us do our jobs better. On behalf of everyone here at, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with your families!

Be Merry,
December 23, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Ashley B.
Ashley B.
It is indeed misleading. I have to agree with you on that!
December 8, 2011 at 12:04 PM
Shannon B.
Shannon B.
I signed up partially because I thought thorough background checks were INCLUDED. The ones it turns up are the same as what can be found on free research sites. It seems mis-leading how it's advertised.
November 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM
Khristina B.
Khristina B.
why does it cost now for a background check it WAS free
October 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM
Deborah D.
Deborah D.
While a background check is one of the first things I would recommend, be aware that many young people today think it is either "funny", our use/misuse our police & justice system to take revenge on someone they have unresolved anger issues with. Be open to gaining additional evidence, not just a verbal explanation, but hard evidence to back up the story of the accused, when there has been interaction with law enforcement & in particular if their case has been dismissed by the courts. Innocent people are being snagged up by the system & those who would abuse the courts for their own agenda.
October 11, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Leave a Comment

You can post a comment by logging in to your account or post as a guest.

Success! Your comment is waiting to be approved. It will post soon.
Post another comment
Join free today
Sign up now! It only takes a few minutes.
What best describes you?
Thanks—you're almost there.
Create your login below.