NAPBS 2018 Mid-Year Conference Report


2018 NAPBS Mid-Year Legislative and Regulatory Conference
Washington D.C. April 15-18, 2018

This year’s conference was very well attended with 442 attendees compared to last year’s 430. Notable was the increase of background screening industry suppliers in the exhibit hall from 30 to 36 in number over 2017. The exhibit hall was sold out and providers were turned away!  Next year there will be more exhibitor space.

Berg Consulting Group arrived to a bustling hotel lobby and exhibit hall.  While our travels went perfectly, weather complications caused delays for many – including half the Triton team who ended up driving from Toronto (9 ½ hours travel in a winter storm is dedication!).  Our team downloaded the conference event app which proved to be a great way to connect with attendees and suppliers, maintain our schedules, submit session evaluations, view event photos and see social media activity related to the conference.

First on the Sunday schedule was a networking session. I always enjoy connecting with colleagues and friends to kick off the conference.

Sunday night’s opening ceremony was a full house where NAPBS chair-elect Angela Preston and a virtual Scott Hall welcomed attendees. Angela offered her poised remarks on the state of the Association, exciting news of new accredited background screening companies and completion of the second annual end user survey. She was true to her word in keeping her opening brief and to the point! Scott generated some laughs with his resigned acceptance of being chosen to read the antitrust  statement. Scott sent in his recorded comments as he had foot surgery. We wish Scott a quick and smooth recovery.

On to the exhibit showcase where reunions and new acquaintances took place.  Attendance was strong again with activity inside and outside the exhibit hall. The hotel restaurant and bar were bursting with NAPBS members after the showcase where conversations continued until the early morning hours. This group has always been and continues to be social!

Fun Times

The party Monday Night was another winner (thanks Innovative!!). And a special thanks to my dance partners.

Educational Session Highlights

Compliance. Well my friends, here is the latest craziness shared by the legal advisors at the conference.  On MVRs the report will show physical characteristics (e.g. blue eyes, 4’3” tall, etc.) so you may want to redact this before you send to your client so they cannot be sued for discrimination based on this data.

In Monday’s investigative consumer reports (ICR) session Bill Simmons stated the importance of having a voice in the room when regulation is drafted – to ensure complex situations that employers face are considered e.g. traveling employees who have a home base in one city but work in another city where a new law has been issued.  He also laid out the need for in-depth conversations with customers to specify customer expectations. These conversations will manage the risk associated with an accidental ICR for pre-employment verifications. For instance, if salary history was included in the verifications, this has now become an ICR, beyond what the employer knew and requested. This may “trip liability” for the client.

As ambassador of “Surviving the Shifts: The Changing Face of Engagement” Emily (our Product Manager) noted the shifting industry and shifting demographics. The session focused on engagement of employees for the most part, but these lessons can be applied to engagement of clients and customers as well. Millennials will make up 75% of workforce by 2025 (as employees and as decision-makers at potential client companies). Millennials want:

  • a voice
  • to be heard
  • to do meaningful work and make a difference
  • to support like-minded businesses

Pam Devata spoke to a standing room only crowd in a session titled “FCRA Ignorance Isn’t Bliss” to share new legal theories from the plaintiff’s bar, CFPB areas of concern and long-standing risks that continue to be relevant. Within new legal theories Pam mentioned the need to clarify sentenced time vs. time actually served on the report.  Information from data providers (court runners, database providers) is being claimed to be a “consumer report” by some plaintiffs, which means providers need to be aware of the FCRA rules and cautious about protocol surrounding them. One of the stipulations of FCRA compliance is the “At the Time” Certification. This is hard to do with things like an older ATS. Using a customizable ATS would allow you to build in the certification.

Tuesday’s session “The CRA Guide to Social Media Background Screening” was well attended. It seems like the area is still pretty grey in terms of what can and cannot be used by an employer. An opinion letter sent from the FTC clarifies some things:
-FCRA applies to social media reports
-Findings can be used in employment decisions
-Social reports are considered “consumer reports”
-Must have permissible purpose (employment); can only use publicly-available, user-generated info

A social media report should focus on business-related behavior: potentially illegal, sexually explicit, potentially violent, demonstrations of racism/intolerance, etc.
-A majority of end-users want concise, actionable reports – regarding these four categories that exclude positive postings which are often subjective and less credible.

Other Facts:
-70% of employers use social media to screen applicants
-Doing it in-house can be costly in terms of time and effort. Without expertise and modern search technology, this process inefficient.
-Employers can’t “un-see” class-protected info if employer is doing it in-house

The takeaway here is if you are going to post something be advised that this can potentially be used against you. We will continue to see this field be regulated as lawmakers catch up, and should watch for litigation. Tread carefully.

Our Abbe Groffman served as ambassador for Scott Paler’s session on “Insurance: Why It’s The #1 Compliance Risk Area and How To Get It Right”. Scott believes the industry is more aware of this risk than in years past however Scott continues to preach the critical nature of having good coverage with E&O insurance. Takeaways here include:

  • Do your homework to understand the details of the policy as most insurance agencies do NOT understand the needs of the background screening business.
  • Secure a solid policy by: working with brokers familiar with the screening industry, talking to other CRAs who have had claims covered, reviewing & negotiating the policy terms and language with experienced legal counsel.
  • There is no formula for determining coverage however the “sweet spot” seems to be from $2mm (smaller CRAs) to $5mm.

The ambassador program is a great way to meet more people, learn about hot topics in the industry and meet the session hosts/subject experts beforehand to gain some valuable insight!

All session presentations can be found by NAPBS members at:

Seven Takeaways from the Conference

  1. E&O insurance is your #1 risk.
  2. Salary history is a hot topic.
  3. Plaintiff’s councils are not going away. Protect your CRA.*
  4. Build in certification within ATS for candidate to approve at time of submission.
  5. Review your supplier network to protect your CRA. Ensure you are receiving the best quality data and that your providers are aligned with your business goals.
  6. Overall, the marketplace is still growing with 2017 better than 2016 for most screening companies and 2018 is off to a better start than 2017.
  7. There is no doubt that we are still in a seller’s marketplace with many buyers knocking down our doors asking us what we have for sale.

*We spoke with one law firm at the show who mentioned that they have been dealing with a particular attorney group over the last four years averaging a little over one lawsuit per month. What this tells us is there are plaintiff attorneys out there just waiting for a mistake to be made. The question for the CRA is whether they are prepared in terms of compliance to “fight off these potential lawsuits”.

People, Places, Stuff, Changes

  • GIS has a new Chief Product Officer, Jim Daxner, a new CEO in Guy Abramo and a new COO in Bob White.  Lori Webb will be leaving soon after 15 years with GIS.
  • BackTrack, Inc. was recently acquired
  • Trak-1 was recently acquired
  • Credit Bureau Associates was recently acquired, with Berg Consulting Group acting as intermediary.
  • I was very pleased to hear that Mike Sankey sold BRB Publications to The Public Record Authority Group (Lyndon Wilson)
  • US Investigative Services sold to Credential Check
  • Evan Zatt was the big winner of the treasure chest of money from CRI – you can all hit Evan up for a loan.
  • Nick Fishman (former EmployeescreenIQ) will soon be leaving Sterling
  • Kevin Bachman (former EmployeescreenIQ) has become a consultant in the industry.  Welcome Kevin.
  • Allen Harrison is the new Director of Sales at Accio Data and jovially introduced himself before Sunday’s opening session. He stood in for Barry Bose who is recovering from a motorcycle accident.
  • Diana Tsakiris, my new Strategic Sales Executive, got an in-depth education about the industry, thanks to attendees who gave her their time and input.
  • Barton Taylor (TazWorks) was missed at this conference.
  • Carla Knoll became TazWorks Senior VP of Sales.
  • Keoki Huffman is now COO with Themis Data Solutions

Thanks to everyone who made it to this year’s mid-year conference. Plan to come to the annual conference in Baltimore, October 7-9. The conferences are critical to our industry because the environment is ever changing and this is one way to ensure you and your team are up to speed on everything that’s happening. We look forward to seeing you then.