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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Ensuring high standards for public record researchers are met through policies for data products used for background checks is required for background screening firms accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). Criminal record information gathered by these researchers at county courts is an important part of background checks. This blog is the fourth in a six part series about the NAPBS Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP).

‘Researcher and Data Product Standards’ is the fourth of six sections of the BSAAP created for Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – the technical term for background screening companies – along with ‘Consumer Protection,’ Legal Compliance,’ ‘Client Education,’ ‘Verification Service Standards,’ and ‘General Business Practices.’ The BSAAP contains 58 clauses that CRAs must follow to be NAPBS Accredited. The ‘Researcher and Data Product Standards’ section contains the eight clauses below:

  • 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.

Governed by specified requirements and measurements, the BSAAP is becoming a widely recognized seal of achievement that brings national recognition to background screening organizations.  This recognition will stand as the industry “seal,” representing a background screening organization’s commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. To learn more about the BSAPP, visit

Founded as a not-for-profit trade association in 2003, the NAPBS represents the interests of more than 880 member companies around the world that offer employment and tenant background screening. NAPBS Member companies are defined as “consumer reporting agencies” pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and are regulated by both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). To learn more about the NAPBS, visit

To read other blogs about the NAPBS, visit

ESR Is Accredited by the NAPBS

Founded in the San Francisco, California-area in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a global background check firm that is accredited by the NAPBS®. ESR also undergoes annual SOC 2® audits to protect the privacy, security, and confidentiality of consumer information. ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” (3rd Edition published in January 2017). To learn more about ESR, 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.

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