A green round particle
A happy woman
A happy man

Need Help with Your Background Check?

You're in the right place to get a status update on your background check or learn more about what to expect.

Trust Sterling to Guide You Through Your Background Check

Woman smiling with confidence

What to Expect

You aced your interviews and now it’s time for your background check. Congratulations! Here’s what you can expect next. Background particle
Step 1 of 5

Check Your Email

You’ll receive an email from your new company containing a link and instructions to start your background check with Sterling.
Woman smiling with confidence
Step 2 of 5

Candidate Hub

Next, you’ll set up a Candidate Hub account using the email address you gave your new company and create a unique password. Use your email address and password to log into your Candidate Hub account as you go through the screening process.
Woman smiling with confidence
Step 3 of 5

Complete Online Forms

Once you have created an account with Sterling, you will need to view and sign authorization and disclosure forms, as well as enter certain personal information that is required for your background check. The type of information you will need to submit varies depending on what screening your new company has requested.
Woman smiling with confidence
Step 4 of 5

Drug Test

If your background check requires a drug test, check your inbox for your registration email and confirm availability with your testing site. Make sure to bring the following items to your drug test: proof of identity and your electronic or paper Chain of Custody (COC) form.
Woman smiling with confidence
Step 5 of 5

Background Check Results

Depending on the screening requested by your new company, your background check may take 3-5 business days to be processed. If it’s been more than one week since you completed the data collection process, please initiate a Check My Status request.
Woman smiling with confidence
Previous Slide
Next Slide

Candidate FAQs

Browse frequently asked questions sorted by where you are in the screening process.

Before a company starts your background check, you’ll need to sign a written disclosure that states that the background check will run for employment purposes. It is a requirement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that an organization or other hiring entity obtains your consent prior to the start of a background check. While every company has specific background screening criteria, you’ll likely be asked for your full legal name, any aliases, current address, date of birth, and social security number. Other information often requested is your driver’s license number, educational background (institution attended, dates, degree earned, etc.), and past employment history (name of former employers, dates of employment, and position) — plus information such as passport information or ID cards for history outside of the U.S.

Every company has specific background screening requirements based on their industry, regulations, and type of positions they hire for. Most employment background checks include a criminal record search to determine the details of a person’s criminal history. Other common requirements may include: driving records, drug testing, and education, employment, and credential verifications.

The location where you live and work, and also the type of position, can impact how far back background checks go. Sterling works with organizations to provide historical background information based on applicable federal, state and local laws, as well as the requirements of the position.

The length of time it takes to complete the background check depends on what is included in the check that we’re performing. Although 90% of Sterling’s criminal and public record searches are completed within one business day, there are several extenuating circumstances that may cause delays in the process, such as the availability of records. In general, education, employment, credentials, and reference verifications can take three to five business days to be completed.

When you first arrive on our background check webpage (after clicking the link in your email), you’ll need to create a new password meeting the requirements indicated on the page. You will also need to check the box to accept Sterling’s terms of use, then click the Create an Account button. You will then receive an email from Sterling asking you to confirm your email address. Until this step is completed, you will be unable to access your account.

You may have had a background check processed previously with Sterling through a different employer. If you don’t remember your password, you’ll need to reset it. Click the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page, then select the “Forgot Your Password?” option and enter your email address. You will receive a confirmation email containing a link to reset your password. Please be sure to confirm your email address, otherwise you will not be able to continue in the password reset process.

It may take up to two hours for you to receive a confirmation email when resetting your password. If you don’t see the confirmation email in your inbox, be sure that you have confirmed your email address with us, and also check your junk and spam folders. If you still haven’t received your email after two hours, you can try again by clicking the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page and request another confirmation email. If you continue not to receive a confirmation email, please contact us for further assistance.

A company may require additional verification of your identity using Sterling+ID.me. This verification method uses either your phone number, your state ID, or your passport to confirm who you are. If phone verification is not successful, please attempt one of the other verification methods. If you are still unable to complete the identity verification process, please contact ID.me support directly at https://help.id.me/hc/en-us/requests/new or call 844-989-0884 for assistance.

If you already have an ID.me account, you’ll receive a hint as to what your email address is. If you no longer have access to that email account, click “Contact Member Support” to file a ticket and ask for assistance.

If your initial identity verification attempt is unsuccessful, it means that the information you provided did not match the authoritative sources ID.me uses for verification. Unsuccessful verification attempts may be due to many reasons, including:  

If you follow the help offered in the links above, and your next verification is still unsuccessful, ID.me may be able to verify your identity in other ways. Look for the Verify identity on a video call button to complete your identity verification on a video chat with aTrusted Referee, who is a trained ID.me identity specialist who can help you verify your identity if your online verification attempt is unsuccessful.  

Verifications are the confirmation of a candidate’s educational background, job history, and other credentials.

The time it takes to complete a verification varies, based on how long it takes us to conduct research using various sources to verify the information you provide; research conducted using online resources is often faster than contacting companies or people. In general, Sterling’s education, employment, credentials, and reference verifications are completed within three to five days, though say it can take longer if an institution is difficult to reach, is out of country or has special protocols for responding to requests for information. While Department of Transportation (DOT) verifications typically close in five days, DOT employers are allowed to take up to 30 days to return results according to the regulations.

Please provide the most accurate information. We will compare the information you provide with the information the past employer or academic institution provides. For temporary or contract work, please list the company which paid you directly rather than where you performed the service.

It’s important that Sterling is able to contact your previous employers to verify your work history. We suggest using Google or another search engine, checking the employer’s website, or reviewing past documents you may have received from the employer to find their contact information.

If the company is no longer in business, please provide the most complete information you have. You may be asked to provide documentation supporting past employment, such as W2 or IRS Tax documents, company pay stubs, or an employment offer letter.

If you are (or were) self-employed, Sterling may ask you to provide Form 1099-MISC (Contractors), Form 1099-K, or IRS Schedule C/K-1, among others.

Sterling may reach out to you if we need additional information to successfully complete the verification. For example, we may ask for a copy of your degree or certification as well as the correct name while attending the institution. You may also need to provide contact information for your academic institution.

Your background check may include a public records search. You don’t need to take any action. The notification is sent to you for informational purposes. You may have received more than one notice because the company you authorized to run a background check initiated more than one report. Common examples of public records include professional license verifications, driving records, court records of criminal and/or civil cases, and sanctions searches.

Sterling’s background check application form requires that the ending month and year that you enter for an address matches the starting month and year for the next address entered.

No. We do not search juvenile courts for juvenile records.

Records that have been sealed or expunged in the Court’s systems and state repositories are not included in the background check.

Every company has their own hiring criteria, and many companies hire applicants with criminal history. Sterling is a CRA (Consumer Reporting Agency) and does not make any hiring decisions. Sterling’s clients are solely responsible for determining eligibility for employment based on their existing standards and policies.

A drug test is an examination – typically of a urine, hair, blood, or oral fluid sample – to determine the presence or absence of specific drugs or metabolized drug traces. Most drug test results are completed within a few business days.

  • Call ahead to confirm testing hours. Hours may change or testing may be unavailable during lunch hours. 
  • Most clinics do accept appointments. Call or schedule online at your registered location to avoid extended wait times, as appointments take priority over a walk-in.  
  • Take your government issued photo id. You will be asked to present it at the test site. 
  • If you are under 18 years of age, and do not have a valid photo id, an employee identification card may be accepted.  
  • Arrive well in advance of the clinic closing time. The collection site will not stay open later to accommodate your inability to provide an adequate specimen on your first attempt. Arrive at the designated collection site ready to provide an adequate specimen.  
  • You are not required to provide payment at the clinic. If you are asked for payment, contact Sterling Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-889-5248, Monday through Friday – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.  
  • Children are not permitted to accompany donors into the restroom and are not permitted to be left unattended in the facility at any time.  
  • You will be asked to remove any outer garments, such as a coat or jacket, and to display the contents of your pockets prior to performing the collection. All personal belongings like purses or briefcases will remain with the outer garment. You may retain your wallet.  
  • You will be instructed to wash and dry your hands prior to providing a urine specimen. 
  • Your specimen will be provided in the privacy of a single-person restroom, a stall or otherwise partitioned area that allows for individual privacy, unless otherwise indicated. 

The drugs included in your drug test will depend on the employer’s drug testing policy as well as the industry and position you are or will be working in. Federally regulated employees in safety-sensitive positions, such as truck drivers or airplane pilots, must be tested for marijuana, cocaine, opioids, PCP (Phencyclidine) and Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, and MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) per the Department of Transportation regulations If you have questions regarding what drugs are included in your drug test, check with your employer.  

First, make sure you have the proper address for the collection center where you are registered. You’ll need to bring: 

  • Legal proof of identity – such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, military ID, or permanent resident card (“green card”).  
  • Your registration email or the paper chain of custody form you received from the employer. 

Please note that nationally, clinics are having difficulty maintaining ideal staffing levels and may have long wait times. We strongly encourage you to contact the clinic site before the day of your drug test to confirm appointment availability, wait times, and hours of operation.

If you need to change the testing site location, use you can use the link provided in your registration email to look up alternate location options. To re-register at an alternative location please contact Sterling Customer Support toll-free at 1-888-889-5248 or send an email to candidate.support@sterlingcheck.com.  Alternatively, you may contact your employer for additional instructions.

If you have a conflict or concern with participating in a scheduled screening, you should contact your employer or prospective employer. Depending on the employer’s requirements, federal and state regulations, the purpose of the test, and the reason for the conflict, the screening expiration may be extended, the screening rescheduled or may be canceled. In some cases, inability to participate in screening as planned might be considered a refusal to test and have consequences, so be sure to check with the employer before taking any action.

Hair is typically taken from the crown of the head. Approximately 120 strands or greater, 3/8 inch in diameter (approximately one and a half times the diameter of a number 2 pencil). If you do not have hair on your head, call the collection site in advance to discuss possible options.

No. Please first double check the screening paperwork you received via email from Sterling and/or the paper form from your employer. If the problem continues, please contact your employer or prospective employer. Most problems can be easily solved by scheduling services at another nearby clinic, correcting paperwork, or confirming clinic staff availability over the phone. Sterling works directly with employers to address issues with clinics.

Please work directly with your employer or prospective employer to make this request in advance. Making your employer aware of your accommodation needs will be important both for your screening and for the purposes of your future employment. Sterling can work with your employer and the clinic to ensure necessary accommodations are made.

Screening results covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations are available from Sterling. To receive a free copy of the report(s) in your file, please log into the Candidate Hub, and download the results from the document section of your profile. Alternatively, you can complete ouronline contact form.

You should always call back the Medical Review Officer (MRO) as quickly as possible. Typically, an MRO calls when there are questions around your results. This phone call is your chance to address the questions. Some questions are easily addressed, such as providing a valid, recent prescription for a medication so the MRO can confirm why certain drugs are present in your system. The MRO will call you up to three times and leave a message, if possible. Failing to return a call from the MRO will force the MRO to report results to the employer based on the information we have available. 

Please note that employment screening is not healthcare. It is performed to determine whether you can adequately and safely perform the duties assigned to your role. Speaking with a medical review officer does not form a patient-doctor relationship.

No. Sterling offers our clients a variety of types of sample collection, including oral fluid, urine, blood, and hair testing. Which type is selected depends on your employer’s drug testing policies, industry regulations, and other factors. The employer dictates the type of screening employees or candidates receive.

The average time to report a Negative drug test result is 24 to 72 business hours from the date of the collection. Please note that a laboratory positive drug test must be reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO); the MRO process can take 3 to 5 business days. This process could be extended depending on the result, RX/medical documentation provided and the complexity of the documentation’s verification process. Medical tests such as physicals, audiograms and clinical test results report within 5 business days.

Sterling cares about your experience. If you had a problem that impaired your ability to utilize the clinic or is cause for significant concern, please inform your prospective employer. They will work with their Client Success team to address the problem.   

Please note that nationally, clinics are struggling to maintain ideal staffing levels and may have long wait times. Scheduling an appointment or calling ahead before you go is strongly recommended. 

No. You should never try to alter the order at the clinic. Please speak with your employer in advance to share your reasons, concerns and/or vaccination record. If your employer agrees with your request, they can cancel and recreate your order for services without the vaccinations.

No. Employers pay for these services as they are necessary for the job. If you provide your insurance card, the clinic may bill you for your copay or deductible instead of the employer. 

Please send a copy of the entire bill to your employer and do not pay the bill. Your employer needs to add some information and pass it on to Sterling for resolution. Please note that it can take 4-6 weeks for the bill to be resolved, so don’t be surprised if you receive a second notice. The sooner you send your employer the bill, the faster it will be resolved.

No. Sterling provides employment screening services, but not ongoing healthcare. Please check with your insurer, employer, and/or employee assistance program for referrals.

Once you have filled out all of the required details requested as part of the background check, you will be prompted to submit your credit card information on a separate step.

Once you have submitted your credit card information, you will receive a successful payment confirmation, both on the page directly and via email. The page will then automatically advance after three seconds, and your background check will be submitted. If for some reason the process does not advance automatically, you will see a message to manually click the ‘Next’ button to complete your background check submission.

If you encounter an issue while you are attempting to submit payment for your background check, please contact us. Please note that once your background check is in process, we are unable to provide a refund.

Once you enter your information and have clicked the confirmed/submitted button, the system will tell you that your information has been submitted. You can log back in at any time to view your details. Please note, you will not receive a confirmation email.

Once you submit the required information, Sterling is unable to make changes. Please contact your HR representative or hiring manager and ask them to launch a separate order with the correct details. Then, you will receive an email to complete the details correctly.

If additional information is required from you, you’ll hear from either the company requesting the background check or from Sterling directly via text or email request with a link where you can directly upload scans or photos of the requested documents.

If it has been more than one week since you completed the data collection process for your background check, you are welcome to request a status update on your background check using our Check My Status service.

To initiate a Check My Status request, you must enter the email address that was submitted as part of your background check, plus the last four digits of your SSN (Social Security Number) to verify your identity. Once these details are submitted, Sterling will send you an email informing you of the status of your background check.

At this time, our Check My Status service only supports requests submitted by candidates in the United States.

You may dispute the accuracy or completeness of a consumer report. To initiate a dispute, you are encouraged to call Sterling at 1-888-889-5248. You may also reach out to us via email regarding disputed information on your background check at dispute.resolution@sterlingcheck.com.

In general, a CRA has up to 30 days to resolve a dispute, although Sterling generally handles disputes more quickly than this. You will be notified via email of the resolution.

If you are a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking, you may request Sterling to block adverse items of information on your consumer report if they resulted from trafficking.

How do I submit a request?

  • Write a letter stating that you are a victim of human trafficking
  • Identify the adverse items of information that resulted from trafficking that should not appear on your consumer report
  • Include a photocopy of a proof of identity
  • Provide a photocopy of trafficking victim determination documentation (select one or more from the following list):
    • Issued by a Federal, State, or Tribal governmental entity
    • Issued by a non-governmental organization or a human trafficking task force, including victim service providers affiliated with the organization or task force, authorized by a Federal, State, or Tribal government entity to make such a determination
    • Issued by a court or accepted as a piece of evidence filed in court
    • A self-attestation by the consumer who identifies as a victim of trafficking if such statement or an accompanying document is signed or certified by a Federal, State, or Tribal government entity, a court, or an authorized representative of these entities
  • Specify your preferred method for Sterling to contact you (electronic or postal) and provide your email address or postal address
  • Send your letter with enclosures to:

Sterling c/o Human Trafficking
6150 Oak Tree Blvd
Suite 490
Independence, OH 44131

You may use this sample letter provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): sample letter.

  • Driver’s License
  • Government issued ID
  • Passport
  • Utility bill showing your name and address
  • Birth Certificate

If you are unable to provide a copy of proof of identity, we may be able to verify your identity over the phone. Please call us at: 844-468-6522.

  • Certification letter issued by the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Police report
  • Court decision related to human trafficking
  • U Visa with form I-918 supplemental B indicating the victim experienced human trafficking
  • T Visa issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services

If you have any questions, please call 844-468-6522 or email dispute.resolution@sterlingcheck.com

The FCRA gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you might be, the victim of identity theft. A brief summary of the rights designed to help you recover from identity theft can be found here. A summary of your rights to place a security freeze on your credit report can be found here. You may also find additional resources here:

If the company finds a potentially disqualifying result on a background check, they will initiate a process to notify you and allow you a chance to review the report and respond. This two-part notification process is called Adverse Action.

The first step of the process is to send a pre-adverse action notice informing you that the information contained in a Consumer Report result caused the company to consider an adverse employment decision. The notice will also include a copy of your report. This gives you an opportunity to review the report and dispute any potential inaccuracies.

After sending a pre-adverse notification, a company will wait at least five business days (or longer if required by state or local law), before taking final action. If the company decides not to hire based on the information in the report, a final adverse action notice must then be sent to inform you that the company has taken adverse action.

Sterling takes privacy very seriously. We respect the privacy of our visitors, employees, clients, and clients’ employees and candidates. We aim to collect, use, disclose, and retain personal information online in accordance with your expectations and the law. Read our privacy statement for details.

No, unless you have specifically provided authorization. An example where this might occur is if you are being hired by a staffing agency on behalf of one of their clients.

If Sterling has prepared a consumer report or investigative consumer report in your name — as per the FACT (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions) Act — you are entitled to a free copy of the completed report during each 12-month period. To receive a free copy of the report(s) in your file, please complete our online contact form.

You can contact Sterling with any questions you have using  the form on this page. You may also call us, based on the location of the employer who has requested your screening.

If you were given a client code or phone extension number in your initial email, please use it to reach your dedicated team faster.

If your screening is with a US-based employer, please call 888-889-5248.

If your screening is with an employer based in Asia or Australia, please call 1-800-215-3919.

If your background check has been requested by an EMEA-based employer (Europe, Middle East, or Africa) and you have additional questions, you can call our EMEA Support Team free of charge. View free phone numbers.

Still Have Questions?

We're here for you.

Have a question that we haven’t answered here or need additional help with your background check?

Please use the form to connect with us.