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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Criminal background checks performed by public record researchers at the county court level are the backbone of employment screening. A background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) seeks the highest standards from these researchers and ensures those standards will be met through a set of policies that deal with data products used for background checks. This blog is the fourth in a six part series about NAPBS Accreditation. For previous blogs about NAPBS Accreditation, please visit

Researcher and data product standards are 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 4: Researcher and Data Product Standards’ which contains eight clauses.

‘Section 4: Researcher and Data Product Standards’ examines the relationship between a CRA and the public records researchers used to gather information for background checks. Topics covered in Section 3 include public record researcher agreements, vetting and certifying researchers, Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, auditing procedures for quality assurance, and designating qualified individuals within the CRA who are responsible for understanding court terminology used in background checks. The eight clauses in ‘Section 4: Researcher and Data Product Standards’ for NAPBS Accreditation are as follows:

  • 4.1 Public Record Researcher Agreement – CRA shall require a signed agreement from all non-employee public record researchers. The agreement shall clearly outline the scope of services agreed to by CRA and researcher, 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, and reinvestigation requirements.
  • 4.2 Vetting Requirement – CRA shall have procedures in place to vet or qualify new public record researchers.
  • 4.3 Public Record Researcher Certification – CRA shall require public record researcher to certify in writing that they will conduct research in compliance with all applicable local, state and federal laws, as well as in the manner prescribed by the jurisdiction 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 – CRA shall obtain proof of public record researcher’s Errors and Omissions Insurance. If public record researcher is unable to provide proof of insurance, CRA shall maintain coverage for uninsured and/or underinsured public record researcher.
  • 4.5 Information Security – CRA shall provide a secure means by which public record researcher will receive orders and return search results.
  • 4.6 Auditing Procedures – CRA shall maintain auditing procedures for quality assurance in regard to their active public record researchers.
  • 4.7 Identification Confirmation – CRA shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy when determining the identity of a consumer who is the subject of a record prior to reporting the information. CRA shall have procedures in place to notify client of any adverse information that is reported based on a name match only.
  • 4.8 Jurisdictional Knowledge – The CRA shall designate a qualified individual(s) or position(s) within the organization responsible for understanding court terminology, as well as the various jurisdictional court differences if CRA reports court records.

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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