Researcher and Data Standards Required for Background Screening Companies Accredited by the NAPBS

Criminal Records

Written By ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn

Enforcing high standards for public record researchers that search for criminal records at courts to ensure they comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is required for background screening companies accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

The NAPBS, a non-profit trade association representing the background screening industry founded in 2003, offers Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – the official name for background screening companies – a way to be accredited through its Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP).

CRAs accredited by the BSAAP are committed to uphold and deliver the highest level of industry standards for six critical areas that include “Information Security,” “Legal and Compliance,” “Client Education,” “Researcher and Data Standards,” “Verification Services Standards,” and “Business Practices.”

“Researcher and Data Standards” is the fourth of six areas covered by the BSAAP standard – which was updated in 2018 – and includes 6 clauses that CRAs must follow in order to become accredited by the NAPBS. There are 68 clauses in the entire BSAAP standard. Here are the clauses for “Researcher and Data Standards”:

  • 4.1 Public Record Researcher Agreement – CRA must have and follow a procedure requiring a signed agreement, which may include amendments and/or addenda, from all non-employee public record researchers. The agreement must clearly define the scope of services to be provided, including jurisdictions covered, search methodology, depth of search, disclosure of findings, methodology and time frame for communication and completion of requests, methodology for confirming identity of subject of record(s), confidentiality requirements, reinvestigation requirements, and other obligations as furnishers of information under the federal FCRA.
  • 4.2 Vetting Requirement – CRA must have and follow procedures to vet new public record researchers.
  • 4.3 Public Record Researcher Certification – CRA must have and follow a procedure requiring public record researcher to certify in writing that they will conduct research in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements, as well as in the manner prescribed by the repository which maintains the official record of the court; never obtain information through illegal or unethical means; and utilize document disposal and/or destruction methods pursuant to the federal FCRA.
  • 4.4 Errors and Omissions Coverage (E&O) – CRA must have and follow a procedure to obtain proof of public record researcher’s Errors and Omissions Insurance. If public record researcher is unable to provide proof of insurance, CRA must maintain coverage for uninsured and/or underinsured public record researcher.
  • 4.5 Information Security – CRA must have and follow a procedure providing a secure means by which public record researchers will receive orders and return search results.
  • 4.6 Auditing Procedures – CRA must have and follow a procedure to audit their active public record researchers for quality.

To become accredited by the NAPBS, CRAs must demonstrate initial and ongoing compliance with the accreditation standard as prepared by the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC). Compliance is demonstrated through rigorous audits completed by an independent third-party auditor.

CRAs must document each of their policies and processes as required in each of the areas within the standard and demonstrate visible compliance with their policies to the auditor. Accreditation lasts for a period of five years, after which time firms are required to recomplete the process to remain accredited.

Founded as a non-profit trade association in 2003, the NAPBS currently represents more than 880 members engaged in background screening across the United States. NAPBS member companies range from Fortune 100 firms to small local businesses. To learn more about the NAPBS, visit www.napbs.com.

In May of 2019, the NAPBS selected Dawn Standerwick, Vice President of Strategic Growth at Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), as the “NAPBS Volunteer of the Month.” Standerwick currently serves as Chair of the Ethics Committee and is active with the Finance and Government Relations Committees.

In October of 2018, Standerwick was recognized as longest serving Board Member in the history of the NAPBS with nine years of service that included four years as a Regular Director and five years serving on the Executive Committee as Secretary, Treasurer, Chair Elect, Chair, and Immediate Past Chair.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a “Founding Member” of the NAPBS and is accredited under the BSAAP. ESR Founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen was the Chairperson of the steering committee that founded the NAPBS and served as first co-Chair. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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