Featured

Compliance Clips for March 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

Philadelphia
Effective February 20, 2021, Philadelphia has expanded legislation to prohibit covered employers from using an applicant’s credit-related information in connection with employment decisions or considerations. The amendment expands the scope of covered employers to include financial institutions and law enforcement agencies operating in Philadelphia, which were previously exempt from the law’s requirements. Once in effect, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions (such as banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms) may not rely, in whole or in part, on credit-related information to take adverse employment action related to job applicants or employees, unless exceptions apply (obtained under federal or state law, for example).
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Nationwide
There’s no question, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case filings continue to increase year over year. Here’s a link to 10 FCRA case decisions from 2020 that all clearly illustrate the importance of accuracy, disclosure, and compliance with credit reporting laws. Take a read and then let A-Check know if you have any questions about your background screening program.
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A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MARCH 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Nationwide Cannabis Bills in 2021
After the 2020 election where we saw five states pass marijuana legalization measures, now more than a dozen state legislatures are considering bills this year for medical and/or adult-use cannabis legalization.
Adult-Use Legalization Efforts:
Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia
Medical Legalization Efforts:
Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Tennessee
Both Medical and Adult-Use Legalization Efforts:
Indiana, South Carolina
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Illinois
Illinois is one of several states that have passed a Ban the Box law—called the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act—which prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history until the later stages of the application process. Under the law, employers may not ask about or consider an applicant’s criminal history until they have 1) determined the applicant to be qualified for the position, and 2) notified the applicant of being selected for an interview, or if there is no interview, extended a conditional job offer to the applicant.
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COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
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DATA PRIVACY

Washington State
An updated Washington state privacy act, SB 5062, was re-introduced in early January with revisions to consumer rights regarding their personal data, controller responsibility, and more. The bill will apply to companies conducting business or offering products and services to Washington consumers, controlling or processing data for 100,000+ consumers, and adds nonprofit corporations, air carriers, and higher learning institutions to the list.
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Oklahoma
In legislation news we’re watching: Oklahoma joins numerous other states in proposing consumer data privacy legislation. The Oklahoma Computer Data Privacy Act (OCDPA), House Bill 1602, was filed in January for review and commentary. If passed, the OCDPA would require that certain companies obtain prior consent before collecting and selling consumer data. The bill also gives Oklahoma residents a mechanism for requesting that businesses disclose what information they have about them, as well as the right to request deletion of that information. The bill also provides a private right of action for Oklahoma residents for which residents may seek injunctive relief, actual damages, and statutory damages up to $7,500 for intentional violations.
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Virginia
Virginia House of Delegates voted 89-9 to pass a privacy bill, potentially making Virginia the next state behind California to enact a comprehensive data privacy law similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Now, going one step further, Virginia’s Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) is now expected to be signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam, and would take effect on January 1, 2023. Companies already complying with the CCPA have a head start on their compliance efforts but will need to plan privacy compliance program adjustments to be fully prepared for the CDPA, including consumer rights regarding personal data, controller responsibility, and more.
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California
Yes, the CPRA deferred some of the CCPA’s employee-related requirements until Jan. 1, 2023. That said, employers are still required to provide employees with notice prior to collection of personal data. Since January 1, 2020, a notice at collection, which must be provided “at or before the point at which” the collection of information occurs, including: a list of personal information categories collected, permissible purpose, how to opt out, and how to find and view a company’s privacy notice.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Compliance Clips for February 2021

CONSUMER REPORTING

FTC Settles Tenant Background Screening Company Claim
Welcome to 2021, where—no surprise—compliance is still just as important. The Federal Trade Commission has reached a $4.25 million settlement regarding alleged unfair or deceptive acts in connection with background screening reports. More specifically, 1) identifiers did not reasonably match the applicant, 2) inconsistencies existed in identifiers, 3) records did not accurately reflect offenses, and 4) multiple entries existed for criminal records. This particular complaint alleged that reasonable procedures were not in place to assure the accuracy of the criminal and eviction records obtained from a third party vendor for tenant background screening reports. While these screens were presented to landlords and property management companies, it also is a very important example to illustrate why everyone at A-Check is committed to ensuring we meet your organization’s screening requests with attention to compliant business practices.
READ MORE

A Friendly Reminder about FCRA Requirements
As you’re well aware, when an employer uses a third party (like A-Check) to conduct background checks, there are FCRA compliance requirements that must be followed. For your convenience, here’s a very quick checklist of key requirements:

  • Ensure there is a permissible purpose for performing a background check on an applicant/employee, based on their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide clear written notice in a stand-alone document to the applicant/employee that a background check will be conducted, and the resulting information will be used to make an employment decision.
  • Obtain the applicant/employee’s written consent to perform a background check and/or investigative report.
  • If the background check information results in an adverse action decision, a notice of pre-adverse action, along with a copy of the background check results and a copy of the Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be presented to the individual.
  • Allow the individual at least five business days to dispute the information in the background check
  • Upon a final decision, and if adverse action is taken, provide the individual with a final notice of adverse action.

We’re focused on helping you remain compliant, and always welcome your questions.

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Ongoing Extension: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is taking precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now MARCH 31, 2021.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Florida
Florida Public Employers: Every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in Florida must now register with and use the E-Verify system to verify the work authorization status of all newly hired employees. E-Verify is the online system operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to electronically verify and confirm the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. Both federal and Florida law prohibit employing individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States. Many states have legislation mandating E-Verify use, now including Florida.
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

What We’re Watching: Potential Legislation
Looking ahead, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia might be three states likely to legalize marijuana in 2021. And 2020 national Gallup polling hits an all-time high with 68% in favor of U.S. legalization. Currently, 36 states have enacted medical cannabis legislation, with 15 also allowing for the adult-use consumption and/or retail sale of marijuana. Although 2021 isn’t a big year for elections, there are indications that New York, Connecticut, and Virginia may consider cannabis law this year.
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Illinois
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced the forgiveness and expungement of about 500,000 criminal cannabis cases, as mandated by the Illinois law that legalized the licensed sale of marijuana starting in 2020. Pardons were issued for 9,210 low-level cannabis convictions, while Illinois State Police have wiped clean more than 492,000 non-felony cannabis-related arrest records. The intent of the law is to reduce the impact of the war on drugs on minorities, who were disproportionately arrested and locked up for cannabis crimes.
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New Jersey
Although there have been delays in legislative action, and after voters approved legalization in November, the governor of New Jersey recently reaffirmed commitment to passing laws regarding marijuana. Lawmakers introduced marijuana legislation last November, soon after voters approved cannabis reform. However, since then, it’s been subject to a number of changes and delays in legislative action.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Nationwide
It’s now reported that as many as three-fourths of U.S. population lives within a Ban the Box jurisdiction. That’s nearly 40 states and 150+ cities and counties nationwide. Ban the Box legislation provides applicants a fair chance at employment by removing conviction and arrest history questions from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process, or even after a conditional offer has been made. We recently found a great site that clearly illustrates current states and localities with Ban the Box legislation in place.
READ MORE

DATA PRIVACY

New year, new privacy legislation. In 2021, we will likely see a wave of GDPR-like regulatory measures to address data protection and privacy around the world. With information security the focal point of a world that has made the shift to remote activity, this year may prove to be a year where countries not only catch up with their privacy legislation backlogs, but also work to enact 2021 privacy legislation. Here in the United States, three states (California, Nevada, and Maine) have enacted consumer privacy legislation, with 16 more introducing similar laws of their own. And, while there is federal law providing some degree of data protection, efforts are still being put forth to create an overarching framework to govern privacy law.
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COVID-19

COVID-19 Rapid Infection At-Home Collection
Although Coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically impacted the business landscape worldwide, it is also encouraging to now see employers focused on safely and gradually welcoming their workforces back to the office. Depending on your company’s return to office policies, requiring employees to test negative for COVID-19 prior to an office return may be a viable complement to office cleaning and sanitation practices. We want to quickly let you know that A-Check is here to help by providing COVID-19 testing and surveillance solutions through A-Check’s medical partner networks. Through A-Check’s partnership with Quest Diagnostics, we offer an at-home swab collection option to help diagnose whether your employees currently have COVID-19.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Compliance Clips for November 2020

EMPLOYMENT LAW

2020 Headlines
While Halloween is now officially behind us, it’s still worth a quick look at 2020 headlines that are sure to give HR professionals—and the rest of us—nightmares! Steer clear of lawsuits by managing with care and attention to employment law.
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I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Extension Still Applies: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. 
The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now November 19, 2020.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Exploring the Basics of Form I-9
With U.S. government focus on enforcement and audit of employee authorization to work, it’s always worth taking a few moments to review the basics of Form I-9. Every employer must have a Form I-9 for every employee. While the form itself is not complicated, accuracy and process counts to ensure that you’re prepared for an audit.
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SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Substance Abuse Trends Reported by Quest Diagnostics
U.S. General Workforce drug positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019. Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX AND CRIMINAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE

Hawaii
Now effective, Hawaii has amended its Ban the Box law, offering protections for individuals with old and/or relatively minor conviction records. The law prevents most private sector employers from considering felony convictions older than seven years, and misdemeanor convictions older than five years. However, an employer making employment decisions may inquire about and consider an individual’s criminal conviction record, provided the conviction in question has a logical relationship to the position’s duties.
READ MORE

South Carolina
In other Ban the Box news, the city of North Augusta, SC, is removing a question about criminal history from job applications for city positions. This change won’t alter the hiring process at all; it will simply remove the question from upcoming applications.
READ MORE

A Ban the Box Overview
36 states and 150+ municipalities have Ban the Box laws to prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. This article quickly details a number of the most recent changes and updates in Hawaii, California, and St. Louis, Missouri.
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SALARY HISTORY

Maryland
Now effective as of October 1, 2020, there are more boxes to ban from Maryland employment applications. Maryland prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s current or prior pay. This new law will 1) prohibit employers from requesting or relying on job applicants’ prior pay history to make decisions about employment or initial pay in most circumstances; and 2) require an employer to provide an applicant, upon request, with the wage range for the job applied for. The new law amends Maryland’s existing Equal Pay for Equal Work (EWEW) law, and will apply to all private, state, and local government employers in Maryland.
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A Look at Salary History Bans Already in Place
State and local governments are increasingly adopting legislation to prohibit employers from requesting salary history from job applicants. For your reference, here’s a great running list of states and localities that have legislation in place.
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COVID-19

Updated COVID-19 Guidance from the EEOC
While we mentioned this in last month’s email, it’s worth repeating, especially as many organizations continue to make cautious, careful decisions about the balance between remote and in-office workforces.

The EEOC recently updated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Coronavirus pandemic. This new information expands their prior guidance on how the ADA applies to the current pandemic. In a question and answer form, this guidance covers a number of important issues surrounding COVID-19 and the workplace, including: the right for an employer to ask employees entering the office if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the right for an employer to report employees with COVID-19 or associated symptoms to appropriate personnel, the right for an employer to require a temperature check, and much more.
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Questions? We’re here to help!

Featured

Compliance Clips for June 2020

CONSUMER LEGISLATION

Heroes Act Amendment Awaits Consideration in the Senate
The Heroes Act includes a provision which would place a temporary moratorium on the ability of consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to furnish certain adverse information during major disasters, including during COVID-19. Section 110401 of the Heroes Act would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by adding, “No person may furnish any adverse item of information (except information related to a felony criminal conviction) relating to a consumer that was the result of any action or inaction that occurred during a covered period.”  A covered period could refer to COVID-19 and/or any major disaster or health emergency.
READ MORE

Brazil: New Privacy Law Enforcement Likely Postponed in Response to COVID-19
Brazil’s General Data Protection Law (aka, the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados and referred to as the “LGPD” in the Portuguese acronym) appeared ready to go into effect in August 2020. However, as Brazil has recently become a COVID-19 hot spot, on April 3, 2020, the Brazilian Senate approved Bill No. 1179/2020. This emergency measure postpones the effective date for the LGPD to January 2021, with sanctions and penalties enforceable only after August 2021.
READ MORE

Maryland: Employers, Get Ready for New Employment Laws
Several new bills, including ones that prohibit use of facial recognition technology, wage history inquires, hairstyle discrimination, and revisions to the state’s mini-WARN act, recently became law when the deadline for their enactment passed without Governor Larry Hogan’s veto.  These laws will take effect beginning October 1, 2020.
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I-9 COMPLIANCE

A Reminder: Compliance with Form I-9 and E-Verify Requirements in Light of COVID-19
While we shared this information previously, it bears repeating in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes. However, the government is suspending the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Virginia: New Legislation Decriminalizes Simple Marijuana Possession
Effective July 1, 2020, Virginia legislation decriminalizes possession, and prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose information related to past criminal possession charges. The law will take effect July 1, 2020.
READ MORE

Montana: Statewide Signature Drive for Marijuana Ballot Initiative
Montana’s Cannabis Legalization Campaign launched a signature drive—with careful attention to COVID-19 social distancing—to drive legislation toward a vote for cannabis legalization later this year, including the establishment of a system to regulate and tax cannabis for adult use, and authorization to set Montana’s legal age for marijuana consumption at 21.
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Minnesota: Legislation is Being Introduced to Legalize Marijuana
As states begin to move forward again amid the COVID-19 health emergency, Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler is introducing what he called “the best legalization bill in the country.” If passed as written, the bill would allow Minnesota adults 21 and older to possess and transport up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana (and 8 grams of cannabis concentrates) in public places and keep up to 10 pounds at their private residence. Adults could grow up to eight marijuana plants at home, up to four of which could be mature, flowering plants. Gifting small amounts to other adults would also be legal.
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Rochester, NY: Legislation is Being Considered to Stop Drug Testing Applicants
City Council is considering legislation that would drop pre-employment drug testing for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound found in marijuana. Exceptions would include those applying for public safety positions. Monroe County continues to screen for THC during pre-employment drug testing but these policies will be reviewed at some point given the shifting regulations nationally, and the potential legalization of marijuana in New York state.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX

Suffolk County, New York: Ban the Box Legislation Passes
Suffolk County soon will follow the trend of other state and local governments enacting “ban the box” legislation. The Suffolk County, New York, Legislature has passed the “Fair Employment Screening Amendment,” prohibiting the County or any other employer having at least 15 employees from asking job applicants about their prior criminal convictions until after the first interview. The Amendment will go into effect on August 25, 2020.
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SALARY HISTORY

Philadelphia: Employer Questions About Applicant’s Wage History Now Prohibited
Philadelphia was the first city to pass a law to ban employers from asking about the wage history of job applicants in 2018. Now that a federal court’s injunction has been lifted, the law is in effect as of May 8, 2020. Employers or employment agencies may not inquire about a prospective employee’s wage history, require disclosure of wage history, or condition employment or consideration for an interview on the disclosure of an applicant’s wage history. The law also prohibits retaliation against a prospective employee for failing to comply with any wage history inquiry.
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Questions? We’re here to help!

A-CHECK GLOBAL ACHIEVES BACKGROUND SCREENING CREDENTIALING COUNCIL ACCREDITATION

RALEIGH, N.C., May 23, 2018 – The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) announced today that A-Check Global has successfully demonstrated compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) and will now be formally recognized as BSCC-Accredited.

“As an NAPBS founding member, we’ve been honored to work alongside this important industry organization for many years,” said Donald Shimizu, Executive Vice President. “And now, we are equally honored to achieve accreditation as our newest business milestone and further recognition of our ongoing commitment to excellence in both professional standards and customer service. It is a distinction our entire team will proudly share as we continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”

Each year, U.S. employers, organizations and governmental agencies request millions of consumer reports to assist with critical business decisions involving background screening.  Background screening reports, which are categorized as consumer reports, are currently regulated at both the federal and state level.

Since its inception, NAPBS has maintained that there is a strong need for a singular, cohesive industry standard and, therefore, created the BSAAP.  Governed by a strict professional standard of specified requirements and measurements, the BSAAP is becoming a widely recognized seal of achievement that brings national recognition to background screening organizations (also referred to as Consumer Reporting Agencies).  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.

The BSCC oversees the application process and is the governing accreditation body that validates the background screening organizations seeking accreditation meet or exceed a measurable standard of competence. To become accredited, consumer reporting agencies must pass a rigorous onsite audit, conducted by an independent auditing firm, of its policies and procedures as they relate to six critical areas:  consumer protection, legal compliance, client education, product standards, service standards, and general business practices.

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 at www.napbs.com.

About NAPBS®

Founded in 2003 as a not-for-profit trade association, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) represents the interests of more than 900 member companies around the world that offer tenant, employment and background screening. NAPBS provides relevant programs and training aimed at empowering members to better serve clients and maintain standards of excellence in the background screening industry, and presents a unified voice in the development of national, state and local regulations. For more information, visit www.napbs.com.