Blog Post

How Long Does a Contractor Background Check Take? 4 Things That Impact the Timeline

Background Screening | May 17, 2023

Conducting background checks for the contractors in your service network is an important risk mitigation tool. They help provide information to protect your customers, business, reputation, and products. The general timeline for a background check is within three or four days from submission, but many factors can impact that range. If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘How long does a contractor background check take?’ this blog will look at some of the reasons that can extend the time of a background check and some mediation options.


The more detailed and comprehensive a background check is, the more information your organization is provided with to determine your risk, if any. However, the more searches ordered, the longer a background check may take. In most cases, criminal and database searches are returned fairly quickly, usually within a few days. If verification of past education or employment is included in the scope, this could notably increase the time. The reason for this is that not all organizations have automated systems or processes for responding to such requests so results take longer to come back.

The scope for most packages PlusOne processes for contactor networks are very records focused – driving, criminal, database, and sex offender information. These tend to be processed efficiently and through online systems. In some rare cases, court jurisdictions may have to process things manually, use court clerks to pull records, or may take time to get specific details from case files that are not in the online database. If an individual has moved around in the previous seven years, they may have numerous counties to search and if any of them have a manual process, it becomes clear why this screening report could take longer than others.

Quality of Data Submitted

The most important criterion impacting the overall quality of a background check is the accuracy of the demographic data submitted by the individual contractor. Each background check should have a step where the identifying information about the individual is confirmed as accurate and complete. If there are missing names, if the date of birth (DOB) is submitted incorrectly, or if issues arise when verifying the Social Security Number (SSN) provided, the rest of the background check process comes into question. This information is very important in the success of other searches and if there are issues with this data, there is a domino effect throughout the report that may yield a report with false positive records, or worse, missed records being returned.

Each organization may take a different approach to identity validation but the most valuable screening partners will stop their process and ensure that before any other searches are ordered, or any ordered searches are completed, any questions about names, or identifiers like SSN or DOB are addressed. Even incorrectly entered driver’s license numbers can cause delays and issues by returning records that do not belong to the contractor. PlusOne will work with both the contracting company and the individual contractor, to ensure that the demographic information used in the report is as accurate and complete as it can be. 

Need for Further Research on Criminal Records or Search Results

The steps of a contractor background check seem simple – order the search, the result is returned from the vendor, and the final report is sent to the organization. Unfortunately, if the record that comes back is incomplete, or we need more details before reporting it back to the organization, that takes time. This may involve contact with the individual contractor to get more information, it may involve giving the court clerk time to access a file or even requesting additional searches and records from other jurisdictions to verify information already received. No matter what the reason, these steps are important to ensure only complete, accurate, and up-to-date information is being reported in the final background check results.

Adjudication and Pre-Adverse Processes

Background checks, also known as consumer reports, are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and because of that, when adverse action may be taken based in whole, or in part, on the content of the report, there are prescribed steps under the FCRA that must be taken. And these steps take time…sending the individual the consumer report, a Summary of their Rights, and allowing them time to raise any disputes related to the information contained therein. This process is very important to ensure any decisions are being made on accurate information only. The pre-adverse and adverse processes can easily add over a week to the background check process. There is nothing that can be done to shorten these time frames but it is important to know this could happen when results are turned because it does explain why a check takes longer. 

As outlined, there are several reasons for delays in the background check process, some of which are beyond the control of the individual submitting the background check. The quality and accuracy of the data submitted are, however, totally in the hands of the individual contractor. Ensuring this information is complete and accurate, meaning it matches government-issued identification documents, will ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible and that those delays are eliminated. Any partner you work with can also explain the potential areas that may impact the timeframe of the background check. Contact us today to learn more about our background screening options.

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

About PlusOne Solutions

PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing in compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments. To learn more, visit

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