When considering the cost of a background check the issue is larger than just the price of the service. The Internet Age is transforming us as a society. The personal privacy that was cherished in the 20th Century is now being dissolved away by the streaming World Wide Web.
If you live a modern life with a cell phone and personal computer your movements and correspondences are tracked and stored in a vast and growing database. All of what you say and do, that is recorded, can be used against you in court or for when you apply for a new job. For as little as twenty dollars anyone can hire a service to do a criminal background check on anyone they choose.
There is a common phrase that is echoed during this time of diminishing privacy in regards to policies that slack off the protections of an individual's privacy rights. "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear." Sadly, this is not the case. Erroneous postings or stupid, foolish acts that may have occurred early in life can now haunt an honest law abiding citizen and create roadblocks to his/her success. Still, there is much value in having access to the records of someone's past.
There are many professions that require background checks on those that apply to join their ranks. In many instances it is a useful tool for weeding out the bad apples that apply for a position that requires a reliable, ethical person. People are also starting to pull background information on a person who they feel romantically drawn to. Right or wrong this practice is growing and comes with a cost that is not measured in dollars.
Before all of this data was being collected, and now made so easily accessible, people relied on being able to read a person during an interview and asked for personal recommendations from passed employers or friends. Making a good impression was paramount for a person's prosperity. In a world where data on a page can determine the outcome of an interaction, isn't a piece of our humanity lost?