by Ivana

Background Check Statistics

As the competition for jobs reaches fever pitch, while the rise of COVID-19 and political tensions fuel firearms sales, it seems the need for in-depth background checks has never been higher. Background check statistics make for alarming reading both in a corporate and personal context, and maintaining strict protocols to ensure the safety of companies and people should be of paramount importance. That’s why we prepared the most relevant stats and facts to know this year and beyond.  

Background Check Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • Up to 60% of resumes contain education accreditation refuted by college registrars.
  • Employee fraud and theft costs US companies $400 billion a year.
  • 78% of job applicants admit to lying on their resumes.
  • Employees are 5.4 times more likely to steal from a company than customers.
  • January 2021 marked the most background checks done by the FBI since its creation.
  • 2.1 million firearm applications have been denied since 1994.
  • 90% of all background checks conducted by NICS are concluded instantly.
  • Background checks that take over three days are four times more likely to be denied.

Background Check Statistics That Every Company Should Know

1. Just under 80% of all job applicants lie on their resumes.

That’s right, as much as 78% of job applications contain some form of fraudulent information. This means that just one in about six job seekers is honest about their education, previous experience, and/or skills and qualifications.


2. University and college administrators report up to 60% of all verifications are fake.

According to background check statistics,  over half of the verifications college and university registrars receive are falsified. It speaks to a widening issue of applicants lying about their educational background and qualifications relevant to the role’s duties. That’s why it’s important to pick background check companies that perform detailed education verification on applicants. 

(Employers Choice Screening)

3. Employee fraud accounts for a $400 billion shortfall annually.

Even with the rising average cost of a background check, companies are being urged to take more stringent measures to ensure that prospective employees are of the caliber required. Fraudulent staff is costing organizations big money. Employment background check statistics suggest there has never been a better time to clamp down by conducting detailed criminal background checks, and verifications. 

(Employers Choice Screening)

4. As many as 78% of job applicants in the US use misinformation in their resumes.

It’s a staggering thought that more than two-thirds of the workforce stateside will embellish, change, and straight-up lie about their qualifications and experiences. It’s increasingly easy to falsify an education or even a job in the internet age, and companies need to be fully aware of this and hire professional license verification services that go the extra mile to ensure they obtain reliable proofs for candidates’ qualifications.


5. 79% of job applicants who have lied on their resume claim they never got caught. 

The issue of falsifying resumes isn’t limited to entry or mid-level positions and is prevalent at even the highest industry levels, which is arguably more concerning. This job background check statistic suggests that companies need to conduct detailed background checks and verify all professional qualifications, references, and other critical information to ensure they’re bringing trustworthy people on their teams. 


6. 45% of applicants lie about their reasons for leaving their previous employment.

Nearly half of employees are less than truthful surrounding their departures, and that should set alarm bells ringing for any company. Contactable references may be a way to get a read on any prospective employee, but recruiters should dig a little deeper to ensure their legitimacy. The best employment background check companies conduct through investigations to ensure the information candidates provide on their applications matches the truth. 

(Human Resource Executive)

7. Your employees are 5.4 times more likely to steal from you than a customer.

Seasonal employee background check statistics show that staff without a long-term commitment costs companies upward of $50 million in the US. Employee theft statistics suggest that seasonal workers should undergo a more thorough investigation of their credentials to prevent the slow cash leak that arises from these thefts. 


8. Hiring the wrong person can cost a company up to 24 times their annual salary.

Bad hires can cost companies millions of dollars, which is another reason businesses have to ensure that candidates are screened and checked sufficiently. Things get expensive once you factor in hiring, compensation, loss of business opportunities, and severance packages. A Bureau of Labor Statistics background check is an excellent way to ensure your candidates’ quality and eliminate the possibility of a bad hire. Hiring the wrong CEO, for example, can cost a company as much as $1.4 billion to dislodge and replace. The average cost of background checks may be up, but companies need to safeguard themselves against unnecessary expenditures. Social media background checks, for instance, are often overlooked, yet these checks can reveal a lot about candidates’ character, behavior, and ethics. 

(Corra Group)

Gun-Related Background Check Statistics 

9. In January 2021, the FBI did more than 4.3 million gun checks.

This is the most checks done in a single month since the agency’s foundation and represents a massive growth in the number of Americans purchasing firearms. It’s unclear whether this boost in firearm sales is a result of political tensions or other reasons, but stats show that more Americans are buying guns than ever before. 


10. Since federal background checks began, over three million guns have been denied.

Historical FBI background check statistics show that federal backgrounds officially started in 1994 and have since prevented more than three million people from buying guns or getting any kind of permit. Being a convicted felon accounted for more than a third of all these cases. The number of background checks for guns is in direct response to the greater demand for them across the country. 


11. 90% of all cases run through the NICS get concluded immediately.

The National Instant Criminal Background Checking System, or NICS, processes all checks for US citizens looking to purchase a gun with incredible speed. NICS background check data only takes 107 seconds to determine whether someone is eligible to own a firearm. National firearm background check statistics have been far easier to collect and interpret since its inception. 


12. In 2017, nearly 17.2 million Americans applied for permits or firearm transfers.

BJS personal checks in 2017 only totaled over 17 million, with a 1.4% denial rate. That’s a huge gap from 893,000 in 1998, signaling a dramatic rise in firearm sales. FBI and Department of Justice background checks accounted for 25,235,215 in 2017.  States with universal background checks in place are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.


13. The FBI performed a record high 39.2 million gun background checks in 2020. 

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that checks applicants for criminal records and whether they are disqualified from purchasing and carrying firearms recorded a 40% surge in the gun background checks in 2020, compared to 28,369,750 in 2019. The dramatic rise is most likely caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, 3,937,066 firearm background checks were completed which marked the largest monthly number since the FBI started keeping track in 1998. Note that these statistics reflect FBI gun background check statistics and don’t represent the real number of firearms purchased. 


14. A meta-analysis of 18 different policies is unclear if UBCs prevent homicides.

The RAND corporation ran the rule over 18 various gun control policies to discern that universal background check statistics have only a ‘moderate’ effect on the number of homicides, gun-related violence, and suicides. The research is mixed, and the statistics surrounding universal background checks explained there was no tangible link between a drop-off in the numbers and the prevention of these incidents. 


15. Background checks that take more than three days are four times more likely to be denied.

Gun sales statistics indicate that a delay to the process that lasts three days or more is a crucial indicator that the applicant may be prohibited from carrying a firearm. These checks are only kept on record for 90 days before being erased and denied background check statistics suggest hundreds of thousands of delayed checks never get completed.



Determining someone’s credibility and suitability for a job or the responsibility of carrying a firearm is of the utmost importance. Neither of these things should ever be granted to someone with a history that suggests they may use that privilege for nefarious means. By being proactive, diligent, and thorough in investigating job applicants or those seeking to own a gun, businesses and the general public can protect themselves from possible threats. Background check statistics can aid in the streamlining and efficacy of screening methods so that we as a society can ensure that these privileges aren’t abused.

Sources: Employers Choice Screening, Checkster,, FBI, BJS, FBI, Everytown, Zippia, Human Resource Executive, Corra Group, BJS, BJS, RAND