Getting Started

  • How do I sign up? 
    Click here to complete our application process. The application process includes a Credentialing & Account Information Form and a Service Agreement.  

  • How long does it take to fill out the application?
    The application takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

  • When can I start screening volunteers?
    Once you've submitted your completed application, a Client Success Partner will review your application. If more information is needed to proceed with your application, we will notify you. Upon completion of your application, you will receive an email from our Welcome Team within two weeks that includes your account information and login credentials. 

  • If I start the application, can I come back later and finish it?
    While we recommend that you complete it in one sitting, you can pause and complete the application later.

  • How do I submit my application?
    You can submit your application electronically, or print, fill out the physical application and submit via email. To access the application, click here

Background Check 101

  • What is Adverse Action?

    Adverse Action is the process employers are required to follow under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when an applicant is denied as a result of a background check. The two steps consist of a pre-adverse notice, sent prior to making a final decision followed by a notification of adverse action, sent after a decision is made not to hire. The candidate receives a copy of their background check report so that they are able to dispute the information if necessary.
  • What is Social Security Trace?

    A Social Security Trace uses the volunteer-provided social security number to find all reported address information for an individual over the last 7 years, meaning we are not reliant on the address history the volunteer has elected to provide. The trace also finds all names used by the volunteer – the given name as well as any alias/maiden names used. The information returned from the trace is then used to determine the name/court of record combinations that will be searched (see Smart Order Builder Technology). This ensures that we are searching all applicable jurisdictions under all potential alias/maiden names. Using a Social Security Trace as part of the search package maximizes your chances of finding all pertinent criminal history for an individual.

  • Why is a Social Security Number Trace important? 

    Sterling Volunteers’ Complete Criminal Locator uses SSN trace to automatically find and search up to 20% more criminal records than other volunteer background screening vendors. This ensures that we provide volunteer organizations with the most comprehensive volunteer screening results possible to help protect their people and their missions. 

  • What is the "Nationwide Criminal History Search with Validation"?

    A Nationwide Criminal History search uses the full name and date of birth provided by the volunteer during the order process to search over 900 criminal information data sources from all 50 states. Although this sounds comprehensive, the quality and breadth of data varies by state, and is limited for over 2/3 of the nation’s states (defined by limited data sources or stale information updated infrequently). At Sterling Volunteers, we recognize the limitations of this search. Still, it’s a valuable locator tool that helps us identify areas outside of address history where criminal history might have occurred – areas where the volunteer has worked, travelled or played. We always validate potential matches found in the Nationwide Criminal History search at the primary source of information (county or state courthouses) for criminal history records. This helps us ensure clients that the data reported about their volunteers is the most accurate and up-to-date possible.

  • What is the County and State of Residence Search?

    The address entered during the background check order process is used to determine the county and state of residence (U.S.) for the volunteer. Current and prior Puerto Rico, Virgin Island, Guam, and American Post Office addresses can also be entered by the volunteer. We search for any reported criminal history for the volunteer in that county or state at the primary source of information (the state or county courthouse). Should we find any criminal history, we report the information in accordance with applicable FCRA rules.

  • What are Access Fees and Source Fees? 

    Certain state and county courts charge access fees to obtain criminal history information. Like any other provider running real background checks, at Sterling Volunteers these fees are separate from the base cost of the background check. They are passed along at cost to whoever is responsible for the cost of the background check (either the organization or volunteer). We do not mark these fees up. NOTE: Currently, fees are charged for state searches in 7 states and approximately 3-4% of the 3,800+ counties. The number of locations that charge fees – and the amounts of those fees – is subject to change. Before charging access fees, we apply our Smart Order Builder Technology. This technology takes into account a rigorous evaluation of various county and state data sources and chooses the source that provides the most comprehensive data at the lowest cost.

  • What is Validation?

    Validation is our process of checking data at the primary source to ensure we are providing the most accurate information possible. The primary source of information is the county or state courthouse, or court of record, in the applicable volunteer jurisdiction(s) (for our purposes, the “jurisdiction” is the location searched for criminal history information). After we find a potential “hit” in a Nationwide Criminal History search and/or a search using Arrest Direct, we search the volunteer at the county or state courthouse in the jurisdictions we identify. Before considering any information we find to be reportable, we match it to the volunteer using 2 indicators (2 pieces of personally identifiable information, such as their name, date of birth or social security number). The validation portion of our process helps us ensure accuracy, as noted, but it is also vital to guarantee compliance with the FCRA.

  • Do these background checks include Credit Checks?

    No. Background checks will not be run on Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America volunteers. 

  • What is Client Matrix Application?

    Client Matrix allows you to choose a predetermined criterion for the background checks that will automatically score the report based on the criteria set by you. This helps you make that hiring decision based on pre-scored reports, which can be applied to felonies and misdemeanors, counts and length of time. 


Privacy and Security

  • Does Sterling Volunteers resell the information collected on volunteers to 3rd parties?

    We will not share personal information with third party marketers for direct marketing purposes. For more information, please read our Privacy Policy.

  • How secure is the website used to collect information on the volunteers?
    The Sterling Volunteers platform is extremely secure. Sterling Volunteers complies with all national and local regulations with respect to the storage and transmission of sensitive data and is hosted in ISO 27001-audited data centers. The Sterling Volunteers platform is audited regularly throughout the year with external vendors. These audits include a network perimeter security assessment, an application penetration test and a physical security assessment.

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