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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

With the laws governing background checks constantly shifting and regulatory oversight ever expanding, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) interviewed background screening industry experts for the article ‘How to Choose the Best Background Screening Provider’ and found that compliance with background check laws is the top priority when choosing a background screening provider.

According to the SHRM article: Experts agree that any selection process should begin by verifying that a screening provider is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). That seal of approval ensures that a provider has been independently audited to confirm it adheres to best practices across the breadth of its operating procedures and policies.

One background screening expert interviewed, Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and CEO of global background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), said that background screening providers need to monitor any legislation dealing with background checks for employment purposes since they “must comply not only with federal law but also with differing state and local legislation.”

Rosen, author of “The Safe Hiring Manual,” told SHRM that one area requiring attention is the fast-growing “Ban the Box” movement that seeks to remove criminal history questions from initial job applications and delay them until later in the hiring process. Currently, Ban the Box laws have been adopted by 24 U.S. states and the District of Columbia as well as more than 150 cities and counties.

Rosen also explained background screening providers should search for accurate criminal records through onsite visits to county courthouses rather than searching online databases. “Database-only background checks can be the enemy of due diligence,” Rosen said in the article. “In any database, there are false positives and false negatives and records aren’t always complete or up-to-date.”

Since background screening providers must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law that governs how background checks are conducted in the United States, Rosen said that providers “should have the ability to quickly notify their clients of any changes in the FCRA or other applicable laws, and also should conduct annual FCRA compliance audits of their own operations.”

Background screening providers must also protect data privacy, so background checks should be performed by workers in the United States, Rosen said. If the work is “offshored” outside U.S. laws, providers must explain how data will be protected. Background screening providers using European Union (EU) data should know about the new EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework launched in 2016.

Rosen also warned about low-cost background screening firms. “If costs are too cheap, you might be getting questionable database results, practices that aren’t FCRA-compliant or customer service that isn’t high-quality,” he said. “Unless an employer knows how the sausage is being made, they wouldn’t have an idea that they are not getting accurate and actionable criminal record reports.”

Experts said in the SHRM article that the technology used by background screening providers separates the top providers from the rest of the pack. “HR should be able to automatically send personalized e-mail to applicants so they can fill out forms to initiate the screening process and also receive completed reports easily,” Rosen explained. “Everything today should be mobile-friendly and paperless.”

Rosen added that background screening firms should have compliance experts on staff to review any criminal record that is found during a search to “determine if there are any legal issues in reporting findings.” The SHRM article is available at

Rosen will make three presentations at the SHRM 2017 Talent Management Conference & Exposition taking place at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, Illinois, from April 24 to 26, 2017. To learn more about this event, please visit

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.

© 2017 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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