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Understanding Accredited Background Checks

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When shopping around for an agency to handle your employment background screening requirements, you’ll often see vendors tout their PBSA accreditation. What does that mean, and why does it matter?

What is the PBSA?

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) is a non-profit organization of companies that offer employment and tenant background check screening services. The PBSA establishes and promotes high ethical and performance standards for its members, including nearly 900 companies of all sizes engaged in providing screening services across the United States. All PBSA members are also categorized as consumer reporting agencies and are thus subject to all the rules and regulations defined by the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (FCRA). 

What is PBSA Accreditation?

The core values of the PBSA and its accreditation program, known as BSOAP (Background Screening Organization Accreditation Program), are excellence and integrity. The BSOAP gives participating background check agencies a seal of approval and national recognition for achieving the highest professional standards and for maintaining those standards through continuous institutional improvement. 

It’s important to note that, while the terms certified and accredited are often used interchangeably, they are far from meaning the same thing. Companies can be accredited; individuals are certified. The PBSA issues accreditations to companies, while the FCRA issues certifications to individuals that complete their requirements. Certified background checkers can work for not accredited agencies, so it’s essential to look for the PBSA logo and ask specific clarifying questions to be sure you know what you’re getting. 

What is the PBSA Accreditation Process?

Agencies seeking PBSA accreditation are required to thoroughly document all policies and procedures and then carefully and consistently adhere to the same, demonstrating full compliance with all accreditation standards. Once the documentation is complete, a PBSA auditor performs an onsite evaluation. The final report is submitted for approval once its findings and recommendations have been submitted, reviewed, and implemented. 

The process is rigorous and free from bias. The PBSA puts every organization through the same review, and applications are submitted blind, meaning that the final report is submitted to the PBSA board for approval with only a unique code to identify them. Organizations that receive accreditation have earned the distinction. 

Why Does PBSA accreditation Matter?

The background check arena is massive. The internet allows many individuals and organizations to put their oars in the water of background screening. Organizations that wish to set themselves apart from the amateurs seek PBSA accreditation. And, if you’re a consumer of background checks, you can narrow your search for a reliable partner considerably by limiting your list to only PBSA accredited candidates. Knowing that all the agencies you’re considering meet the same high standards allow you to focus your search on other factors such as ATS integrations or international expertise. 

The Bottom Line

PBSA accreditation is a must, so look for their logo when searching for a background check partner. 

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