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Need Help with Your Background Check?

You’re in the right place to get your questions answered and learn more about what to expect next.

Trust Sterling to Guide You Through Your Background Check

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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 employer containing a link and instructions to start your Sterling background check.
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Step 2 of 5

Candidate Hub

You’ll set up a Candidate Hub account using the email address you gave your new employer and create a unique password. Use your email address and password to log into your Candidate Hub account as needed as you go through the screening process.
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Step 3 of 5

Complete Online Forms

Next, view and sign the disclosure and authorization and personal information forms required for your background check. The type of information requested varies depending on what your new employer has requested.
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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. Bring the following items to your drug test: Proof of identity and your electronic or paper Chain of Custody (COC) form.
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Step 5 of 5

Background Check Results

Depending on the screening requested, your background check may take a few days to approximately one week to process. If it’s been more than one week since you completed the data collection process, please contact Sterling for a status update.
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Candidate FAQs

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

Every employer 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 if the candidate has been convicted of a crime. Other common requirements may include: driving records, drug testing, and education, employment, and credential verifications.

Before a prospective employer or staffing agency starts your background check, you’ll need to sign a written authorization for the background check. Without written consent, the employer or staffing agency is in violation of a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) law specifically written to protect your rights as a consumer. 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.

First, please review the FAQ’s on this page or request a status update on your background check. If you still need help after doing so, please contact us via one of the following methods OR use the contact form on this page. Don’t know which one applies to you? No problem. Please check with your referring employer or partner.

Please provide as much accurate information as possible. 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 that paid you directly rather than where you performed the service.

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 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. We do not search juvenile courts for juvenile records.

Every company has their own hiring criteria. Sterling is a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) and does not make any hiring decisions. We provide reportable information to our clients for them to leverage in determining eligibility for employment based on their standards and policies.

Although 90% of Sterling’s criminal checks are completed within one day (following credentialing), there are several extenuating circumstances that cause delays in the process – such as the availability of records or unresponsiveness by past employers or academic institutions. For most education and employment verifications, the average turnaround time is three to five business days, but can be highly variable and depends on the responsiveness of the organization. In addition, you will have the opportunity to dispute any discrepancies and Sterling will re-investigate the results, which can also extend timing.

Sterling works with employers to provide historical background information based on applicable state and local laws.

If it has been more than one week from when you completed the data collection process, feel free to request a status update on your background check. You can also contact Sterling with any questions you have using the form on this page.

If we need more information from you, you’ll receive a text or email request with a link where you can directly upload scans or photos of the requested documents.

Verifications are the confirmation of a candidate’s educational background, job history, and other credentials. Turnaround times (TAT) vary based on the source of the information. Technology, reporting rules and regulations of an organization, and the method of fulfillment are common factors that can impact the time needed to complete a verification search.

Most of Sterling’s education, employment, credentials, and reference verifications are completed within three to five days. While 70% of Department of Transportation (DOT) verifications typically close in five days, DOT employers can take up to 30 days to return results per law/regulations.

Once you submit the required information, Sterling is unable to make changes. Please contact your Sterling contact, 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 employer requesting the background check or from Sterling directly.

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 in. We strongly encourage you to contact sites prior to testing to confirm appointment availability, wait times, and hours of operation. Please contact Sterling at 800- 853-3228, option 7, for assistance in locating another testing site or use the link provided in your registration email.

First, make sure you have the proper address for the collection center you chose or was assigned to you. You’ll need to bring a legal proof of identity such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, military ID, or green card. In addition to your legal proof of identity, some clinics may require you to bring your electronic or paper chain of custody (CoC) form.

We strongly encourage you to contact sites prior to testing to confirm appointment availability, wait times, and hours of operation. Please contact Sterling at 800-853-3228, option 7, for assistance in locating another testing site or use the link provided in your registration email.

The background check that is being performed on you may include public records. No action is needed from you. The notification is sent to you for informational purposes. You may have received more than one letter because the company you authorized to run a background check has initiated more than one report on you. Common examples of public records are professional license verifications, driving records, court records of criminal and/or civil cases, and sanctions searches.

The background check application form requires that the start date and the end date of each address should be a total match.

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.

Sterling may reach out to you if we need additional information to successfully complete the verification. This includes:

  • A copy of your degree or certification as well as the correct name while attending the institution.
  • You may also provide a contact for your academic institution to assist.


The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you specific rights when you are, or believe that you are, 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:

In some states, the employer is required to provide a copy of your background check at your request. If Sterling has prepared a consumer report or investigative consumer report in your name — as per the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) 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.

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 an employer decides not to move forward with the hiring process because of what was uncovered in a background check, they are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to follow a two-part notification process called adverse action.

The first step of the process is to send a pre-adverse action notice that informs the candidate or current employee that the information contained in a Consumer Report result caused the employer to considering an adverse employment decision. This gives the candidate or employee an opportunity to review the report and dispute any inaccuracies.

After sending a pre-adverse notification, an employer should wait at least five business days (or longer if required by state or local law), before notifying the candidate or employee of a final adverse decision. A final adverse action notice must be sent to inform the candidate or employee that the employer has taken adverse action based on information on the consumer report.

Candidates may dispute the accuracy or completeness of a consumer report. To dispute, candidates are encouraged to call Sterling at 1-888-889-5248. Candidates may also submit a dispute via email by contacting us at dispute.resolution@sterlingcheck.com.

Claims are investigated within the time allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (in general, a Consumer Reporting Agency has up to 30 days to resolve a dispute). Candidates are notified via email of the resolution of their dispute.

When you first arrive on our background check web page (after clicking the link in your email), you’ll need to create a new password meeting the requirements indicated on the page. You’ll need to check the box to accept Sterling’s terms of use, then click the Create an Account button.

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 the password. Click the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page, then click the “Forgot Your Password?” option and enter your email address. You’ll receive a confirmation email containing a link for resetting your password.

Just reset the password. Click the “I am a Returning User” option near the bottom of the Create Account page, then click the “Forgot Your Password?” option and enter your email address. You’ll receive a confirmation email containing a link for resetting your password.

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 to 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 requesting another confirmation email. If you continue not to receive a confirmation email, please call us at 888-889-5248 for further assistance.

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 to find contact information, checking the employer’s web site, or reviewing any past documents you may have received from the employer. If the employer is no longer in business, please provide the most complete information you have.

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