PBSA 2020 Annual Conference Report



Monday, September 14

Because of Covid-19, the annual PBSA background screening conference this year was held on a virtual platform. Although nothing beats the face to face of in-person conferences, the virtual conference allowed us to connect and learn as best as possible in a pandemic world. Many thanks go out to the PBSA team, the tech team and countless volunteers for their hard work, long hours and big effort.

So it began with the laborious booth set up. Kidding. There was no physical set up with booths this year. We added our virtual background, logged in and voila – instant booth set up. Well, not quite but we got it done.

The inaugural (and with hope the final) virtual conference kicked off with the opening ceremony. Outgoing chair Bon Idziak (Accurate Background) handed over the reins to Michelle Leblond (PlusOne Solutions) and the traditional accolades and announcements were made. Numbers were respectable for this year’s conference given the state of affairs. There were 509 attendees and 176 exhibitor attendees, a marked decline from 2019.

Background Screening Educational Session Highlights

All of the educational sessions we attended were pre-recorded. At first, this was a bit disappointing but actually turned out fine because this allowed the presenters to answer the chat questions that came up as the session went along. The chat feature was active during the sessions and many attendees were engaged with this feature.

Big theme and discussions were about the “new” service that CRAs can offer: Continuous Monitoring.  Of course, this is not new but this service is starting to gain traction and generates a nice recurring revenue for the CRA.  

Kevin Horval (Intellicorp), Andy Hellman (Accurate) delivered their session “The Cost of Not Knowing Your Vendor Network” .  I thought I would hear the ‘same-old’ about criminal record vendors, but Andy and Kevin covered all types of vendors, including vendors like SEO and insurance and….  Good points made.

Pamela Devata (Seyfarth Shaw LLP) presented her always popular session to share highlights and new best practices.

There were many sessions available to attendees across different areas of interest. PBSA members and attendees greatly benefit from listening in to the current thoughts and best practices in background screening.

Exhibit Hall Hours

While there were a few tech issues on day 1 of the conference preventing attendees from accessing the booths, those who persisted were rewarded with my Zoom face along with those of Evan and Abbe. We are thankful for those of you who stopped by to say hello, catch up and to inquire about our services.

Happy Hour

At the end of day 1, the schedule opened up for a Zoom happy hour after exhibit hall time. Attendees had three different rooms to visit, sponsored by three suppliers: Wholesale Screening Solutions, SJV and Backchecked. Backchecked’s John Kloos was a gracious host who welcomed each visitor, held engaging conversation and even shared some of his stand-up routine. Many laughs were heard as colleagues caught up with one another, poured their own drinks and shared the zany stories many of us are experiencing in 2020. Wholesale Screening Solutions engaged visitors with a live comic act by comedian Jessica Kirson who picked on me and Mark Weinberg (oy vey). All in good fun. SJV enticed visitors with funny celebrity promotional videos. This worked out so much better than anticipated because happy hour goers in this room were happy to see one another and mingled as best as possible in the zoom world.


Tuesday, September 15

Day two of the conference kicked off with exhibit hall visitors and the town hall meeting. Sessions were held across all learning tracks and appeared to be well attended.

Les Rosen (ESR) presented the hot topic of the Gig Economy and the challenges and opportunities it presents to background screeners. Some Gig firms appeared to be operating in the old days of the wild west – willing to take on the risk and cost of lawsuits for not exercising what we consider to be the best practices. That philosophy may have changed after the startup. Scott Paler (DeWitt LLP) presented his expertise on reports during the final session. The day closed without the fanfare we typically experience at live conferences.


Key Takeaways:

  1. 2020 continues to surprise and challenge all of us.
  2. Most background screening businesses reported sales were down due to COVID-19 but sales were not as bad as experienced in March/April of this year. Optimism prevails and industry colleagues think the economy will come back in 2021.
  3. CRAs are scrambling and adapting to find sales continuity & growth.
  4. Better sourcing of data at lower costs is a never-ending requirement.
  5. Business exits and acquisitions are active, even in 2020.


Wishing you good health, 



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