PBSA Accreditation Explained: What it Means and Why It Matters


A bad hire can cost you anywhere between $240,000 and $850,000 per employee! What’s even worse is that a single disgruntled employee can multiply these costs if they file a lawsuit against you. Then there are the intangible costs that can’t exactly be measured in monetary terms but nevertheless have a big impact on your employee productivity and morale as well as company culture and reputation.

To reduce the risk of a bad hire, companies engage in employee background checks.

Now, background checks can be a bit of a gamble. You send off an applicant’s information, hoping for a clear report that confirms this superstar is everything they seem. But what if the company conducting the check is less than stellar? Inaccurate information, security breaches, and non-existent customer service could leave you with more questions than answers.

That’s where the PBSA accreditation comes in.

In this blog, let’s take a peek into what PBSA accreditation is and why it should be your top priority for finding those elusive, near-mythical unicorns in the talent pool.

Understanding PBSA Accreditation

Imagine a time before widespread background checks, when hiring decisions were often based on gut feeling and limited information. The 1990s saw the rise of background screening companies, offering a much-needed tool for employers seeking a more informed approach. However, with this newfound power came a concern: the lack of industry standards.

In 1996, a group of forward-thinking background screening professionals recognized the need for a code of ethics and a set of best practices. This vision led to the formation of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), which later evolved into the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) we know today.

PBSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to setting and upholding the highest standards in the industry.

From the beginning, PBSA focused on establishing a framework for ethical and responsible employee background screening practices. They developed a rigorous accreditation program, requiring companies to show they adhere to strict standards in areas like compliance, data security, customer service, and ethical business practices.

Over the years, PBSA has continuously adapted to the evolving background screening landscape. They have tackled emerging challenges like data privacy regulations and technological advancements, constantly revising their standards to ensure the highest level of service and protection in the industry.

Today, PBSA accreditation represents a legacy of trust. It shows a commitment to excellence that goes beyond the minimum requirements. It’s a symbol that a background screening company prioritizes accuracy, fairness, and ethical practices.

Key Areas That PBSA Evaluates

Earning PBSA accreditation isn’t easy – it signifies a company’s unwavering commitment to exceeding expectations in several key areas:

1. Business Practices

Imagine a world where background screening companies operate with hidden fees and opaque service models. Thankfully, PBSA accreditation ensures a different reality. Accredited companies adhere to the highest ethical standards. This means:

  • Clear and Transparent Pricing: You’ll receive straightforward pricing structures with no hidden fees or surprise charges.
  • Detailed Service Descriptions: PBSA-accredited background companies clearly outline the services they offer, including turnaround times, data sources, and reporting formats.
  • Open Communication: You can expect clear and prompt communication throughout the background screening process. Accredited companies are readily available to answer questions and address any concerns you may have.
  • Fair and Impartial Dispute Resolution: These companies have a robust dispute resolution process in place to handle any discrepancies in an open and fair manner.

2. Client Education

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to background checks. PBSA-accredited companies invest in client education, providing valuable resources to empower you:

  • Educational Materials: This includes providing access to comprehensive guides, webinars, and articles that explain the background screening process, compliance regulations, and best practices for interpreting reports.
  • Dedicated Training: Training sessions tailored to your organization’s specific needs, helping your HR team understand how to leverage applicant background checks
  • Ongoing Support: Accredited companies offer ongoing support throughout your partnership to make sure you have the resources to use their services for maximum benefits.

3. Information Security

Background checks involve sensitive personal information. PBSA takes data security very seriously, demanding accredited companies to implement robust measures:

  • Industry-Leading Encryption: Data is encrypted both in transit and at rest, safeguarding it from unauthorized access.
  • Strict Access Controls: Only authorized personnel have access to applicant information, with tiered access levels based on specific needs.
  • Regular Security Audits: Accredited companies undergo regular independent security audits to identify and address any potential vulnerabilities.
  • Data Breach Response Plans: These help companies develop comprehensive plans to swiftly address data breaches and minimize potential impact.

4. Legal and Compliance

The background screening industry involves a dynamic and complex legal framework. PBSA-accredited companies provide peace of mind by:

  • Deep Compliance Expertise: They possess a thorough understanding of federal and state regulations, particularly the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
  • Rigorous Internal Processes: They help organizations design internal procedures to ensure reports are accurate, fair, and compliant with all legal requirements.
  • Ongoing Monitoring of Regulatory Changes: PBSA-accredited background companies stay up-to-date on evolving regulations, adapting their processes to maintain compliance.
  • Compliance Training for Staff: Regular training ensures all employees understand and adhere to relevant regulations.

5. Researcher and Data Standards

The accuracy of your employee background check hinges on the quality of the data used. PBSA ensures this quality through the following:

  • Reliable Data Sources: Accredited companies use a network of reputable sources, including courthouses, employment verification services, and credit bureaus.
  • Trained Researchers: These companies have highly trained researchers who conduct thorough investigations, employ proven verification techniques, and adhere to strict quality control standards.
  • Data Verification Procedures: These services have rigorous procedures in place to verify the accuracy of all information obtained.
  • Focus on Currency: Accredited companies prioritize obtaining up-to-date information to ensure reports reflect a candidate’s most recent history.

6. Verification Services Standards

Verification is a critical step in the background check process. PBSA-accredited background companies hold themselves to high verification standards:

  • Multiple Verification Methods: They use various verification methods depending on the type of information, such as direct contact with employers, court records verification, and address history confirmation.
  • Reliable Verification Sources: Accredited companies rely on credible sources when verifying information, which helps minimize the risk of inaccuracies.
  • Documentation of Verification Efforts: They maintain a clear record of all verification attempts to uphold transparency and accountability in the process.
  • Dispute Resolution for Verification Issues: A clear process exists to address any discrepancies or challenges encountered during verification.

By focusing on these six critical areas, PBSA accreditation sets a high bar for background check companies.

Why PBSA Accreditation is the Gold Standard

PBSA accreditation sets the benchmark for excellence in the background screening industry. It indicates that a company not only meets but exceeds stringent criteria for legal compliance, accuracy, ethical practices, and overall quality. Here’s a look at why this accreditation is highly regarded and why it should matter to employers:

1. Accurate Hiring Decisions

PBSA-accredited companies prioritize accuracy in their background checks. They use reliable sources, employ rigorous verification procedures, and minimize the risk of errors. This allows you to make informed hiring decisions based on trustworthy information, reducing the chance of a bad fit.

2. Comprehensive Auditing Process

The accreditation process involves a detailed audit of a company’s operations, policies, and procedures. This comprehensive review ensures that only companies meeting the highest standards receive PBSA accreditation.

For employers, this means partnering with a provider that has been thoroughly vetted and approved by a reputable industry body.

3. Recognition and Credibility

Being PBSA accredited provides a major boost to a company’s credibility. It signals to clients and candidates that the company adheres to the best practices and is committed to delivering high-quality services.

This recognition can be a decisive factor for businesses when choosing a pre-employment screening services provider, as it assures them of the provider’s reliability and trustworthiness.

4. Staying Ahead with Industry Trends

PBSA-accredited background companies are often at the forefront of industry trends and regulatory changes. The accreditation process encourages continuous improvement and staying updated with the latest developments in background screening services.

This proactive approach helps companies better support their clients by providing up-to-date and compliant services that address the evolving needs of the employment screening landscape.

5. Reduced Legal Risk

PBSA accreditation ensures that background screening companies comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other relevant regulations. This compliance reduces legal risks for employers by ensuring that the background checks they rely on are conducted within the bounds of the law.

Employers can be confident they are not inadvertently violating candidate rights or privacy laws when using PBSA-accredited services​.

6. High Standards of Quality and Accuracy

Accredited companies are required to meet rigorous standards for the accuracy and quality of their reports. This includes regular updates to data sources and thorough verification processes. As a result, employers receive reliable and accurate background information, which is crucial for making informed hiring decisions​.

7. Ethical Business Practices

PBSA accreditation mandates a commitment to ethical practices, including transparency, fairness, and responsible data handling. This ensures that background screening companies treat candidates with respect and integrity, cultivating trust and credibility with clients and job applicants​.

8. Enhanced Data Security

Background checks involve sensitive personal information. PBSA-accredited companies take data security very seriously. They implement robust security measures like encryption and access controls to safeguard applicant data from breaches and unauthorized access.

This gives you peace of mind, knowing sensitive information is well-protected.

9. Improved Candidate Experience

Accredited companies typically offer better candidate experiences with streamlined processes and clear communication. This not only enhances the efficiency of the background check process but also leaves a positive impression on job applicants, which is important for employer branding​.

10. Comprehensive Service Offerings

PBSA-accredited companies often provide various background screening services, including criminal records, driving history, credit reports, credential verifications, and drug testing. This allows employers to access all necessary checks through a single, reliable provider, simplifying the employment screening process​.

11. Streamlined Experience

Many PBSA-accredited background companies offer user-friendly platforms for ordering and managing background checks. This simplifies the process, saves you time and resources, and allows you to focus on other aspects of hiring.

12. Exceptional Customer Service

PBSA sets high standards for customer service. Accredited companies provide dedicated support personnel who are knowledgeable and responsive. They’ll answer your questions, guide you through the process, and address any concerns you may have.

13. Transparency and Trust

PBSA promotes ethical business practices. Accredited companies are transparent in their pricing, services, and dispute resolution procedures, cultivating trust and confidence in their partnership with you.

14. Commitment to Continuous Improvement

PBSA accreditation isn’t a one-time achievement. Accredited companies undergo regular audits to ensure they maintain the highest standards. This commitment to continuous improvement ensures you’re always partnering with a company at the forefront of the industry.

Choosing a PBSA accredited background check company offers numerous benefits, from ensuring legal compliance and high-quality reports to enhancing credibility and providing a better candidate experience. For employers, these advantages mean more reliable hiring processes, reduced legal risks, and a stronger overall hiring strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PBSA accreditation expensive for companies to obtain?

Yes and no. While there are fees associated with the accreditation process, companies see it as an investment. PBSA accreditation attracts more clients who value accuracy, security, and compliance. It also helps companies stay competitive in a growing industry.

Does PBSA accreditation guarantee error-free background checks?

No accreditation can guarantee complete perfection. However, PBSA-accredited background companies have rigorous processes in place to minimize errors. They use reliable data sources, employ trained researchers, and conduct thorough verifications. This reduces the risk of mistakes compared to non-accredited companies.

What happens if I have a problem with a PBSA-accredited company?

PBSA sets high standards for ethical business practices. Accredited companies must have a clear and fair dispute resolution process. If you encounter an issue, the company should work with you to address it promptly and transparently. Additionally, you can report any concerns to PBSA itself.

Are there different levels of PBSA accreditation?

No, there’s just one level of PBSA accreditation. However, companies go through a rigorous re-accreditation process every few years to ensure they maintain the high standards expected.

After how much time do I have to renew PBSA accreditation?

PBSA accreditation isn’t a one-time achievement. Accredited companies are required to participate in a re-accreditation process every three to five years. This process ensures they continue to meet the evolving standards and best practices set by PBSA.

I’m a small business owner. Is PBSA accreditation important for me?

Absolutely! Background checks are critical for any size business, but especially for smaller companies where a bad hire can have a big impact. Choosing a PBSA-accredited company provides peace of mind, knowing you’re getting accurate information and minimizing legal risks.

TruDiligence and PBSA Accreditation

At TruDiligence, we pride ourselves on being a PBSA accredited background company since January 2016. This accreditation highlights our commitment to providing superior background screening services that meet the highest accuracy, compliance, and ethics standards. Our market is business to business, and we primarily serve human resources personnel responsible for employment screening processes. We understand the challenges HR professionals face and aim to lessen these through our streamlined services.

We offer a wide range of background check services, including:

  • Criminal Records
  • Driving History
  • Credit Reports
  • Verification of Credentials and Licenses
  • Prior Employment and Education Verification
  • Drug Testing

Our services are designed to support the entire employment screening process, from applicant background checks to ongoing employee screening. We also offer integration with existing applicant tracking systems so that you enjoy a seamless and efficient hiring process.

Addressing Common Pain Points

Here are a few common pain points we address for you:

1. Turnaround Time

We recognize the importance of timely information in the hiring process. Our streamlined applicant entry process and advanced technology solutions significantly reduce the turnaround time for background checks and help HR professionals make quicker and more informed decisions.

2. Cost Efficiency

Our customizable background screening packages allow clients to choose only the services they need, ensuring cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality. By providing transparent pricing and avoiding unnecessary checks, we help businesses manage their screening budgets efficiently.

3. Technology Integration

Our technology-driven approach simplifies the background check process. With features like candidate self-entry portals and real-time updates, we enhance the user experience and make the process more convenient for employers and candidates. Our integration capabilities with existing HR systems further streamline the workflow, reducing administrative burdens.

The Value of a PBSA Accreditation

PBSA accreditation is a significant differentiator in the background screening industry. It represents a commitment to excellence, legal compliance, and ethical practices.

For businesses, partnering with a PBSA-accredited company like TruDiligence means gaining a trusted ally in their employment screening processes. Our comprehensive services, combined with our dedication to high standards, ensure that we provide the best possible support to our clients.

By choosing a PBSA-accredited background company like TruDiligence, you’re not just getting a background check – you’re partnering with a trusted advisor dedicated to helping you make informed hiring decisions and build a strong, successful team.

Get started with TruDiligence for reliable, accurate, and ethically conducted background checks.