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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Employers have legal responsibilities when using background checks for employment purposes. A background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) will inform clients of these legal responsibilities and requirements imposed by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws, including taking adverse action based on information from a background check. This blog is the third in a six part series about NAPBS Accreditation. For previous blogs about NAPBS Accreditation, please visit

Client education is just one part of the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) created by the NAPBS for Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), the technical term for background screening companies. The BSAAP contains 58 clauses that CRAs must follow to be NAPBS Accredited. The clauses are divided into six sections: 1.) Data Information and Security, 2.) Legal Compliance, 3.) Client Education, 4.) Researcher and Data Product Standards, 5.) Verification Service Standards, and 6.) Miscellaneous Business Practices. This blog will focus on ‘Section 3: Client Education’ which contains seven clauses.

‘Section 3: Client Education’ covers how the CRA communicates with its clients about the background check process. Specifically, Section 3 deals with how a CRA informs clients about their legal responsibilities, the specific documents needed to meet legal requirements, understanding background check reports, the adverse action process, protecting information, and how CRAs are not legal counsel and cannot provide legal advice to clients. The seven clauses in ‘Section 3: Client Education’ for NAPBS Accreditation are as follows:

  • 3.1 Client Legal Responsibilities – CRA shall have procedures in place to inform client that they have legal responsibilities when using consumer reports for employment purposes. CRA shall recommend that client consult their legal counsel regarding their specific legal responsibilities.
  • 3.2 Client Required Documents – CRA shall provide sample documents or inform client of specific documents which are needed to meet legal requirements regarding employer’s procurement and use of consumer reports.
  • 3.3 Truth in Advertising – CRA shall communicate to clients the nature of the original source, limitations, variables affecting the information available and scope of information provided by each consumer reporting product offered by the CRA.
  • 3.4 Adverse Action – CRA shall inform client that there are legal requirements imposed by the federal FCRA and, in some instances, state consumer reporting laws, regarding taking adverse action against a consumer based on a consumer report. CRA shall recommend to client that they consult with counsel to develop a legally compliant adverse action policy.
  • 3.5 Legal Counsel – CRA shall communicate to client that they are not acting as legal counsel and cannot provide legal advice. CRA shall communicate to client the importance of working with counsel to develop an employment screening program specific to their needs. CRA shall also communicate to client the necessity to work with counsel to ensure that client’s policies and procedures related to the use of CRA-provided information is in compliance with applicable state and federal laws.
  • 3.6 Understanding Consumer Reports – CRA shall provide guidance to client on how to order, retrieve, read and understand the information provided in consumer reports provided by the CRA.
  • 3.7 Information Protection – CRA shall provide information to client regarding (1) the sensitive nature of consumer reports, (2) the need to protect such information and (3) the consumer report retention and destruction practices as outlined in the federal FCRA and the DPPA.

According to the ‘Accreditation’ page on the NAPBS website, the BSAAP has become a widely recognized seal of approval that brings national recognition to an employment background screening-affiliated organization for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. The governing body for the accreditation program and future personnel certification is the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC). For more information about NAPBS Accreditation, please visit

Founded in 2003, the NAPBS – “The Voice of Screening Professionals” – exists to promote ethical business practices, compliance with the FCRA, equal employment opportunity, and state and international consumer protection laws relating to the background screening profession. The NAPBS provides educational programs aimed at empowering members to better serve their clients, while adhering to standards of excellence in the background screening profession. For more information about the NAPBS, please visit

Founded in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – “The Background Check Authority®” – is a nationwide background screening firm accredited by the NAPBS located in the San Francisco, California-area. ESR’s SOC 2 Audit Report confirms it meets high standards set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for protecting consumer information. ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen also wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual.” For more information about ESR, please call toll free 888.999.4474 or visit

© 2015 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.

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