The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Chairman Fred Giles has responded to an NBC Today Show report about pre-employment background checks, which implied background check firms make errors that cause innocent people to lose their jobs and suggested such incidents were regular occurrences.
Here is the response in full:
“NBC’s Today Show and reporter Jeff Rossen have done a disservice to employers and the general public by focusing on a small number of unfortunate instances in an attempt to indict an entire industry that is critical to the safety of our homes and workplaces.”
“The members of our association fully understand the significant responsibility we have in providing timely and accurate information for employers to use in determining who they hire. Simply put, when it comes to accuracy, our customers demand it and the law requires it. Consumer protection is also of paramount importance to our members. Our members actively help consumers resolve disputed records and note that fewer than 1% of consumer disputed records are actually found to contain an error.”
“For our part, NAPBS has developed a comprehensive individual certification program and a company based accreditation program with more than 58 specific standards of compliance to ensure our members provide the highest level of performance.”
“There are two important points that the Today Show viewers need to know. First, federal law, namely the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), protects the rights of job applicants in disputing incorrect information in pre-employment background checks. Our members must and do follow the law in all such matters. But the law does not apply only to screeners. Employers have a legal responsibility under the FCRA to acknowledge these disputes and to follow a specific process for resolving them and that process should protect the applicant’s pursuit of the position.”
“NBC failed to provide the full story as to why sufficient time, accounted for in the law, was not allowed for the applicant to resolve the dispute. Instead, there was a sensational rush to indict an industry that in fact does more to protect the safety of the workplace, than a handful of unfortunate sensationalized anecdotes would indicate.”
“While the focus is on consumer protection and consumer rights, it is equally important that these concerns be balanced with public safety in the workplace and communities. Never before have consumers had as much protection against inaccuracies as they do today.”
- Consumers have the opportunity to receive a free credit report every year to review for accuracy.
- They benefit from built in consumer protections required under the FCRA for background screeners and the end users of consumer reports as well as dispute resolution, pre-adverse and adverse action requirements.
- Finally, all background screening companies are subject to the rule-making and enforcement of the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“By relying on a few such examples to illustrate incidents of error, the Today Show ignored the vast majority of the millions of background screens conducted each year and the serious workplace problems they helped to prevent. Each year business owners, corporate HR departments, government agencies and nonprofits, conduct millions of pre-employment background checks to ensure that job applicants are competent and fit for the position for which they are applying. This helps businesses protect their own employees, as well as the general public. Most importantly, it helps to ensure the safety of our children and the elderly who represent the most vulnerable populations in our communities.”
“Employee background screening is critical in today’s business environment, allowing employers to meet their legal responsibilities to provide a safe and secure environment for their existing employees and the customers they serve. For the Today Show to suggest otherwise is not only unwise, but potentially dangerous.”