Is There Such a Thing as an FCRA-Certified Background Check?

We recently wrote an article about the Professional Background Screening Association and its accreditation process. In short, it's smart to work with a PBSA-accredited background check company (like Good Egg).

The article brought up a question, however, from a reader about the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) and so-called FCRA-certified background checks. First, there's no such thing as an FCRA-certified background check. But there is such a thing as FCRA certifications for people.

Before we get into this distinction, let's back up and answer some basic questions about the FCRA and compliance.

What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)?

The Federal Trade Commission says, "The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of consumer reporting agencies."

When this legislation was enacted in 1970, its original purpose was to protect consumers who needed to correct inaccuracies on their credit reports. In the mid-90s, the scope expanded to include other types of consumer reports, such as background checks.

How does the FCRA affect the background check process?

Your background checks MUST be FCRA compliant or else you'll run afoul of federal law, which can be equal parts problematic and costly (and this is especially true when it comes to the adverse action process).

But here's the thing: you can't just worry about federal law. State and local jurisdictions also have legislation governing consumer reports, such as background checks.

So I only need to worry about FCRA compliance?

No! It's much more complicated than that. As we mentioned above, state and local jurisdictions also have legislation governing consumer reports, such as background checks. Whenever a background check is conducted, you need to consider compliance from three varying jurisdictional levels: federal, state, and local.

Not to mention there are many other things that your organization must comply with, such as EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and drug-testing laws (just to name two).

What can I do to make sure I'm working with a background check company that understands all the various types of compliance?

This goes back to the article we recently wrote about PBSA accreditation. The Professional Background Screening Association has a rigorous accreditation process in place for background check companies.

Instead of having to figure out if a background check company is legit or qualified, you can see if the company has received accreditation. PBSA-accredited vendors meet specific standards of excellence. Read more about what goes into PBSA-accreditation. To see if a screening company is accredited, check the PBSA Accredited Firms Directory.

But there's no such thing as FCRA-certified background checks, correct?

Correct! Companies can receive accreditation from the PBSA. FCRA certifications can be held at the individual level. These certifications are granted to people who have passed an FCRA certification course.

An important caveat, however: FCRA-certified personnel can work at non-accredited screening firms. Another note: FCRA certification isn't part of the PBSA accreditation process. In other words, no one from the screening company needs to hold an FCRA certification in order for the company to obtain PBSA accreditation.

Ideally, you want to work with a screening company that has both PBSA accreditation and FCRA-certified employees on staff. Notice we said employees—plural. If the screening company has only one FCRA-certified employee and that person leaves, you could have a critical compliance knowledge gap.

For the record, all of Good Egg's sales, customer service, operations, and compliance staff have or achieve FCRA certification upon joining our team.

Is Good Egg PBSA-accredited?

Yes! We're proud of our accreditation. At Good Egg, we're committed to delivering background checks that are fair and accurate. This not only protects candidates/employees, but also employers.

We also believe we go above and beyond when it comes to customer service, which isn't something that the PBSA measures since "fabulous customer service" isn't easy to quantify. But our reviews on places like Capterra and Trustpilot speak volumes.

Interested in making a switch in background check vendors?
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Melissa Snyder

Posted by Melissa Snyder

Melissa Snyder, FCRA Advanced Certified from the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), is Good Egg's Attorney and Compliance Manager. Not only is she an expert in the background screening legal landscape, she is also a lifelong Disney fanatic and is always on the hunt for hidden Mickeys.

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