By Lester Rosen, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) President & Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011Trend #10: New Accreditation Standards Help Employers Select Background Screening Firms

Before this year, employers were largely on their own when selecting a background screening firm. With hundreds upon hundreds of background screening firms to choose from, employers faced a bewildering landscape of competing claims that touted any number of bells and whistles that made it hard to distinguish one background screening provider form another. Some background screening firms had ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification, but as noted in the article “Backgrounds to the Foreground” in the December 2010 issue of HR Magazine, the ISO designation is not specific to background screening and does not guarantee quality of products or services. Employers were also faced with “commercial” rankings published by private “for-profit” publications, which only added to the confusion. The problem for employers is that background screening is a critical function subject to intense legal regulation, and so the stakes are high.

In 2010, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) took significant steps towards solving this perplexing problem with the creation of the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) that covers all areas related to the background screening process and, most important, is professional and objective and not based upon any commercial considerations. The BSAAP advances professionalism in the background screening industry through the promotion of best practices, awareness of legal compliance, and development of standards that protect consumers.

A number of background screening firms have already completed the accreditation process with NAPBS – which was formed in 2003 as a non-profit trade association to promote professionalism in the background screening industry – and more firms are in the process of making a commitment to demonstrate professionalism by going through the accreditation process. The NAPBS press release announcing the companies that have successfully achieved compliance with the BSAAP, ‘Background Screening Credentialing Council Recognizes Accredited Companies,’ is available at:

An emerging trend for 2011 is that employers will start looking for the NAPBS BSCC accreditation seal during their selection process of a background screening firm. This industry “seal” will represent a background screening organization’s commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. The advantage to employers is that they will know they are dealing with a background screening firm that has demonstrated their expertise and compliance in background screening processes. To become accredited, background screening firms – also known as Consumer Reporting Agencies or CRAs – must pass a rigorous onsite audit, conducted by an independent auditing firm, of its policies and procedures as they relate to six critical areas of the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program:

  • ‘Section 1: Consumer Protection’ includes standards for: Information Security Policy; Data Security; Intrusion, Detection and Response; Stored Data Security; Password Protocol; Electronic Access Control; Physical Security; Consumer Information Privacy Policy; Unauthorized Browsing; Record Destruction; Consumer Disputes; Sensitive Data Masking; and Database Criminal Records.
  • ‘Section 2: Legal Compliance’ includes standards for: Designated Compliance Person(s); State Consumer Reporting Laws; Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA); State Implemented DPPA Compliance; Integrity; Prescribed Notices; and Certification from Client.
  • ‘Section 3: Client Education’ includes standards for: Client Legal Responsibilities; Client Required Documents; Truth in Advertising; Adverse Action; Legal Counsel; Understanding Consumer Reports; and Information Protection.
  • ‘Section 4: Product Standards’ includes standards for: Public Record Researcher Agreement; Vetting Requirement; Public Record Researcher Certification; Errors and Omissions Coverage; Information Security; Auditing Procedures; Identification Confirmation; and Jurisdictional Knowledge.
  • ‘Section 5: Service Standards’ includes standards for: Verification Accuracy; Current Employment; Diploma Mills; Procedural Disclosures; Verification Databases; Use of Stored Data; Documentation of Verification Attempts; Outsourced Verification Services; Conflicting Data; Professional Conduct; and Authorized Recipient.
  • ‘Section 6: General Business Practices’ includes standards for: Character; Insurance; Client Credentialing; Vendor Credentialing; Consumer Credentialing; Document Management; Employee Certification; Worker Training; Visitor Security; Employee Criminal History; Quality Assurance; and Certification.

Any U.S.-based employment screening organization is eligible to apply for accreditation. A copy of the standard, the policies and procedures, and measurements is available on the NAPBS website at

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is releasing the ESR Fourth Annual ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011 throughout December. This is the Tenth of the Top Ten Trends ESR will be tracking in 2011. To see a continuously updated list of ESR’s ‘Top Ten Trends in Pre-Employment Background Screening’ for 2011, visit:

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or [email protected].