Pre-Employment Screeners 2004 Conference

Pre-Employment Screeners 2004 Conference


The third annual 2004 Pre-Employment Screeners Conference sponsored by The Background Investigator.


Steven Brownstein and Phyllis Nadel put on an even better conference than last year. The attendance was up about 30% to 302 people and 25 exhibitors. The speakers were good and the networking was keeping everyone very busy. The choice of hotels was much better this time as was the food and service. The beach was beautiful and the sunsets were spectacular.

Sunday evening was an extensive cocktail party and there were so many people there it was impossible to get around to see everyone you wanted to see. What a nice problem.

Monday morning got started with Les Rosen by giving 21 factors that could put our industry out of business. Needless to say, everyone was alert and taking notes. Here are a few:

  • Feds taking over criminal checks.
  • Court restrictions on data.
  • Court restrictions on identifiers.
  • States making their databases available directly to employers
  • PI boards interfering.
  • Lack of oversight of industry leading to government control.
  • Negative publicity about holes in the “national” databases. Get sued if you use, get sued if you don’t.
  • Employer confusion (lack of education) about what is a good background check.
  • Privacy issues.
  • Concern that by excluding criminals from jobs that we are building a permanent criminal class.
  • Which state or federal law applies anyhow?
  • Compliance with the FCRA.
  • Commoditization of the industry by competing on price only.
  • Lack of National Standards.
  • Litigation-background screeners may be seen as the next goldmine for lawsuits.

Of course, all these are not inevitable or fatal, but we need to act as an industry to combat what might bringus down.

Les made a pitch for supporting NAPBS

  • They can represent us as a group.
  • We can create education to counter what is said negatively about background screening.
  • Develop Best Practices.
  • Adjust to changes in the landscape.
  • Counter inappropriate government actions.
  • Create a set of standards before the legislature or the courts do it for (to?) us.
  • Establish us as a “profession.”

Bottom line is there are many threats and like any business there are risks to be considered as you decide the direction in which you will run your business.

Next was a discussion on the “national databases” by Barry Nadell and Mike Sankey

  • If using, make sure the data in the database information is current (not just from 3 years ago). Don’t advertise that the data includes a particular state if that state does not give continual updates.
  • Twelve states-you cannot report anything that has not been confirmed.
  • Twelve states-you can only report 7 years max.
  • The “national databases” are a CRA and must notify or verify if adverse information is reported.
  • Don’t limit yourself to one source; use the source that will give you the best data for the state where the applicant lives.
  • NCIC-much discussion about the poorness of this information. Barry Nadell of InfoLink says his clients tell him they get more hit information from InfoLink than from the fingerprint checks they do through the state and NCIC.
  • If you are relying on these databases to get you sex offender data, make sure they are getting all the information from all the states available, otherwise you may create some liability (as in you claim tobe checking a national sex offender registry but the source you are using does not include some data that is publicly available.
  • PACER-there is talk of redacting the DOB — Ouch!

We then had a presentation on the Human Resource Manager’s view of screening and a legal discussion about correcting FCRA records.

Monday evening for Berg Consulting Group was busy as we had mini-consulting session from 7-10PM

Tuesday was a presentation on the Safe Harbor Act and the legalities of getting international records. Thereare 25 member companies in the EU (European economic Union) and there are different laws in differentcountries There were also sessions on approaches to reference checking and on drug free workplace programs.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Steve Pachata headed an NAPBS update of the great progress being made:

  • NAPBS will be publishing a PowerPoint presentation about NAPBS that member can use intheirmarketing.
  • NAPBS website will have a direct link to BRB sources.
  • On-line bookstore for materials and NAPBS paraphernalia (tee shirts, caps, etc.).
  • NAPBS has cut a deal with a law firm to make available for an annual fee (approx $500) all the compliance rules for all 50 states for FCRA, Criminal searches, MVRs, etc.
  • Working to finalize a deal with Lloyds of London for E&O insurance.
  • Provide a legislative tracking process for all national and state legislative actions.

Spring meeting will be in San Antonio 4/10/05. Membership is now 349 compared to 210 last year at this time.

Tuesday night for us was more mini-consulting. We had some great sessions. This was followed by an informal Texas Hold-Em poker game that was a lot of fun.

And now to the news and near-news:

First Advantage was out in full force. VP of Sales, President of Background Screening, VP of Strategic Product Planning, Sales Manager of the Registry, three from their acquisitions function, all the NBD people, chief legal council, west coast operations and maybe a couple of others I missed. Good to see they care about being part of the industry. And, if their goal was to put the NBD affiliates at ease, I think they succeeded. The nice dinner NBD held for their affiliates was well received too.

InfoMart was once again very much in attendance with 10 people there.

And, if you ever get the opportunity, eagerly accept an invitation from RAMs Group for their dinner.

A couple of larger companies are implementing a strategy of verticals (concentrating efforts and services to a specific industry like trucking, healthcare, gambling).

There is continuing “pain” from web-auction bids that are being done by some major end users. Concern is not only pricing pressure, but that they are bidding for price only and not for quality.

Last year’s announcement of a joint venture between NBD and ClearStar for NBD to run a Mini-Clear Star system for start-up companies to be marketed directly by NBD was replaced by the quiet demise of this arrangement.

Looking for work?

I talked to several people who are looking for salespeople, sales management, an experienced operations person for a good-sized company, even a CEO. I am not a recruiter, but if you know of people interested, they may contact me.

It seems everyone I talked to was very positive about most everything, except the 21 dangers identified on the first day. Business is good, sales are up, the general economic forecast looks rosy, and technology was helping do a better job and keep costs inline. On the other hand, many talked to me about selling their company. They were happy with this year’s increase in business, but concerned about the future for their company in this competitive market.

Great conference, thanks to Steve and Phyllis.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call.

Disclaimer: I am just reporting what has been published or what I have heard, that I have not been asked to keep confidential. No claim is made to the accuracy of the statements made in this report.