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The PBSA Discussed Background Screening During The Pandemic

April 7, 2020

To help employers and Consumer Reporting Agencies, the PBSA is hosting a two-part webinar about screening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PBSA Webinar – Part 1

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA – formerly the NAPBS) represents the “interest of companies offering employment and tenant background screening services” and promotes a “high level of ethics and performance standards for the screening industry.” On Friday, April 3, they presented the first of a two-part webinar featuring input from attorneys who specialize in background screening. They discussed important topics about using background checks for employment purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key takeaways from Part 1 included:

The FCRA Still Matters

One of the presenters mentioned that a client suggested the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is not relevant during the pandemic. The attorney stressed this is incorrect. Employer must still:
• Have a permissible purpose to run background checks.
• Give candidates clear, conspicuous, standalone disclosure and authorization documents.
• Follow the adverse action process.
• Comply with relevant federal, state and local laws.

Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) must still:
• Take steps to provide accurate data.
• Re-investigate background checks if a consumer dispute is filed.
• Comply with relevant federal, state and local laws.

Relying On Background Checks During The Pandemic

Employers use background checks to help make informed employment decisions and create safe workplaces. Many organizations are bringing on numerous employees to assist with increased demand caused by the pandemic. They continue to rely on data from background reports to determine if a candidate is qualified, eligible and not a risk to the business, existing staff or public.

Due to court and other closures, some components of a background check might take longer than usual to finish. CRAs may utilize various sources to complete reports and help clients as they strive to hire in a timely manner. The PBSA suggested CRAs could use alternative data sources and share partial reports if some components will be delayed.

Consumer Disputes

If something in a background check causes an employer to consider an adverse action, such as not hiring an applicant, they must first send a pre-adverse notice. A copy of the background report and other documents must be included. The recipient is allotted time to review and file a dispute if they believe something is incorrect.

When a consumer disputes, the CRA that produced their background check re-investigates to confirm or disprove the validity of contested records. CRAs have 30 days to complete this task. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) stated that this time-frame will be extended to 45 days if “the consumer provides additional information that is relevant to the investigation during the 30-day period.”

Employers should be aware that, in some cases, the consumer dispute process may take longer than usual.

How Backgrounds Online Is Helping

The team at Backgrounds Online is keeping up with changes caused by the pandemic. We’re working diligently to help our clients identify strong candidates during this difficult time.

We are:
• Providing access to partial background checks. If one or more components will be delayed due to the pandemic, we make the rest of the report available for review. This empowers employers to see most of the information they need during the hiring process. We also explain why a component is unavailable and send a follow-up notification once it’s complete.
• Creating educational resources that show employers what to expect. For example, we regularly update a blog entry about court and other closures that could delay background check orders.
• Tuning in to webinars like those presented by the PBSA that discuss current best practices for our industry.
• Maintaining a remote workforce to offer background screening solutions at all times.

Running Background Checks

If your organization is bringing on employees, contractors or volunteers, then it remains crucial to run comprehensive background checks. These reports can be fully customized to accommodate specific requirements, court closures or other pandemic-related disruptions.

When you’re ready to order background reports, please contact us. Our experienced and professional team is here to assist you and answer your screening questions. We’re available Monday through Friday from 7am to 5pm PT.

#PBSA #BackgroundChecks #Pandemic

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