Not Having Procedures for Maximum Possible Accuracy: Riding a Dead Horse

Have you noticed the recent action by the FTC against a CRA? Are you aware of the legal actions by plaintiff attorneys against CRAs, especially in California? Did you happen to catch the NBC Today Show on background screening that aired November 9?

It's not paranoia if people are really after you.

The recent NBC Today Show went back to 2006 and found a lady that had a criminal record run on her and the record actually pertained to a different lady with the same name. (As they say down here in Oklahoma, it was a startle'n ex-po-say. ). And, to make the industry look really silly, they had pictures of the two ladies, one being white and one being African American.

The NAPBS did a good job of responding the same day, saying part "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," and "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."

Do you think if we had the budget and could go back to 2006 we could find a case of journalistic malfeasance surpassing this employment screening mistake? Of course.

Do you think we could find worse instances of the legal profession harming people? Of course.

Have employment screening firms provided a greater public net good than harm? Not even close, of course.

With that said, if you are in the background screening business and you have been putting off instituting, documenting and monitoring procedures dealing with consumer protection, legal and compliance, client education, data and verification standards and other business practices to ensure maximum possible accuracy, you're riding a dead horse. The majority of the industry has dismounted that dead horse or is in the process of doing so. But there are too many companies still trying other strategies like buying a stronger whip, changing riders, saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse," appointing a committee to study the horse, arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses, changing the requirements declaring that "This horse is not dead," harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed, declaring that "No horse is too dead to beat," providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance, purchasing a product to make dead horses run faster, declaring the horse is now "better, faster and cheaper," revisiting the performance requirements for horses, saying "this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable," etc. etc-they're all equally effective remedies for riding a dead horse.

They say an expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them. The NAPBS Accreditation standard is a cheat sheet from experts that will help you avoid the mistakes consistent with attempting to ride a dead horse. As noted above, it contains 58 specific standards of compliance-many learned the hard way. If you are not incorporating those standards, I would dismount that horse you're attempting to ride.

Derek Hinton is President of CRAzoom ( ) a company providing complete accreditation assistance to CRAs.