ConcernedCRAs is a group of like-minded CRAs (consumer reporting agencies) who are concerned about the future of the employment background screening industry. “Consumer reporting agency” is the technical term for employment background screening firms.
We believe that certain data practices employed by some CRAs place our profession and consumers at risk and have come together to raise awareness in the background screening industry, the human resources field, and with the public of these important issues.
Offshoring of Consumer Information
Some employment background screening firms send individuals’ sensitive personal information (i.e. social security numbers and financial account information) off-shore to be processed. We believe that sending such information off-shore places both applicants and employers at risk and should be avoided whenever possible. Alternatively, when personal information is sent to other countries, applicants and employers should be made aware of this practice in advance.
Background screening firms participating in Concerned CRAs have certified that their practices conform to the Concerned CRAs guidelines:
1. Domestic Background Screening: Where a CRA is providing background screening services for consumers in the United States based upon information available in the U.S., a firm displaying this seal certifies it does not send data outside the U. S. or its territories for processing or preparation of a background report or for any other reason. All work is done in the U.S.
2. International Screening: Where there is an international background check for verification of employment education or a professional degree, or for a criminal record check, some information may have to go off-shore by necessity since the information being sought is off-shore. However, firms displaying this seal have taken measures to protect personal and confidential data:
a. Documentation or information such as passport numbers or unique identification numbers and date of birth are not sent to anyone overseas other than the actual verification provider, e.g. employer or school registrar, whenever possible.
b. Where it is necessary to utilize a local firm, the local firm will first be asked to provide local contact information so that the CRA can contact the foreign verifying party directly.
c. If due to infrastructure or other issues in a foreign country a foreign research firm must perform the verification, then the CRA or its agent has properly vetted the local firm, and will redact any unnecessary information.
3. Where a CRA utilizes a third party service to perform domestic or international services in connection with providing background reports, firms that adopted this standard have made reasonable inquires to ensure that any provider is also following this standard.
4. This is a self-certification standard. There is no process of enforcement or accreditation. Employers relying upon the seal should still take appropriate measures to ensure that consumer data is protected in the screening process.
Responsible Use of Criminal Records Database
In addition, some employment background screening firms sell “national criminal records databases” to employers without appropriate safeguards to ensure that the information they are delivering is accurate and up to date. We believe that criminal records databases are valuable sources of information if they are used in a responsible manner. We are concerned that these practices do not appropriately protect employment applicants from avoidable harm. Likewise, employers are placed at increased risk of litigation and public relations problems when their employment background screening partners employ these practices.
Background screening firms participating in Concerned CRAs have certified that they practices conform to the Concerned CRAs guidelines:
When using criminal records in databases in the context of employment-related screening, exclusive of the screening of volunteers, tenants, and other non-employment relationships:
1. Criminal records databases compiled by non-government entities will only be used as indicators of possible records. Prior to making any report to an employer about a criminal record from a database, the CRA will verify the information directly with the reporting jurisdiction. This ensures that employers make decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information.
2. Current or prospective employer clients will be provided information about the limited nature of criminal records databases and the importance of researching each applicant’s criminal history in the jurisdictions in which the applicant currently or previously has lived or worked.
Ultimately, we are concerned that ongoing media coverage related to errors in background checks and the potential for litigation and overreaching legislative solutions place our profession at risk. For a more detailed description of our concerns, please click on the links below.
CRAs who agree with our positions regarding offshoring of consumer information and the responsible use of criminal record databases are invited to self-certify that their practices conform to these positions. They may then use the Concerned CRAs logo in their marketing materials to emphasize their consumer protection efforts.
To self-certify, click here to get the proper form.
If you would like more information on our organization, please use the contact form below and someone will get right back to you.