PlusOne Solutions’ Michelle Leblond Announced as Chairperson of PBSA Board of Directors

Michelle Leblond, Executive Vice President of Compliance and Privacy at PlusOne Solutions is the new Chairperson of the Professional Background Screening Association’s Board of Directors.

Her one-year term officially commenced following the formal announcement during the 2020 PBSA Annual Conference, which was held virtually this year.

After joining PBSA more than 10 years ago when the Canadian Chapter was forming, Michelle’s involvement with the organization has been both progressive and global in nature. She has worked at the Committee and Leadership level within the Canadian Chapter including leading the Government Relations Committee (Canada), as well as on the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC), Global Advisory Council and Membership Committee before joining the Board more than five years ago. Her new role will be focused on the governance and oversight for the Association which counts over 815 member companies and 6,000 individual members around the globe.

“Being the first global Board Chair for our industry Association is an honor and a responsibility that I am excited to take on,” Michelle said. “The pace of technology, the importance of our work in protecting our workplaces, homes, and communities, and the evolution of regulation, demands a dedicated and passionate advocate to represent our members and work with an equally talented Board of Directors. I welcome the opportunity to bring the same energy and motivation I have shown in my work at PlusOne Solutions to PBSA as it continues to realize its mission to become the trusted global authority for the screening profession. I am privileged to support an Association whose mission it is to advance excellence in the screening profession and my unique combination of operational, technical, data privacy and compliance skills make PBSA well suited to deliver on our strategic goals to educate, advocate and impact legislation in the best interests of our members.”

In addition to her 25 years of experience in the background screening industry, Michelle is also a current member of Human Resources Professionals Association (Ontario), Society for Human Resource Management, and International Association of Privacy Professionals. She also holds Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) designations in both the U.S. and Canada.

“The PlusOne Solutions team is honored that Michelle has honed her experience and drive to lead PBSA to new heights in which every organization in our industry will benefit,” said Craig Reilly, Founder and CEO of PlusOne Solutions. “With Michelle’s leadership and her knowledge of the global stage, Michelle energized our company by developing new programs to raise our compliance, privacy, and security disciplines and driving us to meet the highest standards in the industry. We’re excited to see just how high Michelle can elevate our industry through her role with PBSA.”

 

About PlusOne Solutions

For more than 15 years, PlusOne Solutions has been an industry leader in the risk management field by specializing compliance programs that meet the complex challenges of geographically dispersed contractors, vendors, and employee networks. PlusOne Solutions protects companies from possible financial, legal, and reputational risks associated with contractor and vendor relationships while creating safer work environments for everyone and is an Accredited Background Screening Agency by the Professional Background Screening Association.

 

About PBSA

Founded as a non-profit trade association in 2003, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) was established to represent the interest of companies offering employment and tenant background screening services. Just as importantly, however, the initial members wanted to establish and promote a high level of ethics and performance standards for the screening industry. The Association currently represents over 815 member companies engaged in employment and tenant background screening across the United States. Member companies range from Fortune 100 companies to small local businesses, conducting millions of employment-related and tenant background checks each year as part of the hiring and leasing process. PBSA Member companies are defined as “consumer reporting agencies” pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and are regulated by both the FTC and CFPB.

 

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

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Interested in learning more about our compliance services? Contact us at (877) 943-0100 or send us a message using the form below.



Quarterly Compliance Update, Q3 2020

CA Licensing Reform and Criminal Records, compliance during COVID, and FCRA training are all included in this quarter’s compliance update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

Maintaining Compliance and Delays with COVID-19

Throughout the last six months, PlusOne Solutions has continued to work with Customers to ensure strong compliance levels. We have recently seen a lot of the courts reopen and drug labs resume more fulsome hours of operation. Much of the backlog of delayed criminal record checks have now been completed. We continue to encourage any individual that needs to be rescreened to submit their background screening before the expiration date, the individual will continue to report in compliance.

For unique situations or additional questions, please contact us at screenings@plusonesolutions.net for more information.

 

CA Licensing Reform and Criminal Records

Effective July 2020, California enacted AB-2138 which is designed to make it easier for residents with criminal records to obtain professional licenses from 37 agencies within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). In this state alone, 30 percent of all jobs (1,773 different occupations) require licensure, certification, or clearance from a DCA oversight board or agency. DCA boards have licensing authority over many professionals ranging from medical doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to accountants, architects, contractors, engineers, auto mechanics, and hairstylists.

Among the guidelines are strong reminders for any hiring / contracting decisions:

  • Restricts the discretion to use prior criminal history as grounds for denying a license.
  • Criminal convictions older than seven years may not be the basis for licensure denial.
  • A criminal conviction must be “substantially related” to the qualifications or duties required by the license or profession to deny, revoke, or suspend a license.
  • Licensing boards may no longer deny licensure due to a conviction that was expunged, dismissed, pardoned, or if the applicant made a showing of rehabilitation for a felony conviction.

This move is designed to provide more opportunities for individuals with criminal histories and support their re-engagement into society. In many cases, the nature of the record is not relevant to the role they will hold and for this reason, the record creates a barrier to productive contribution to society.

 

 

FCRA Training 2020 Reminder

PlusOne Solutions has sent out its annual training module for all Customer users regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This training covers the basics of the law, the responsibilities of requesting and using consumer reports as well as obligations for the destruction of information. Please watch for this notice and complete the training.

Why does this matter? As a Professional Background Screeners Association (PBSA) Accredited agency, PlusOne Solutions requests an annual certification from Customers to ensure their partnership in remaining compliant with FCRA obligations. Completion of this training constitutes certification and keeps Customer users updated on their obligations when using consumer reports.

 


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What is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)? Everything You Should Know

What is the FCRA?

First enacted in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is comprehensive federal legislation to regulate the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information. This legislation is the basis of consumer rights in the U.S. and no additional comprehensive privacy legislation yet exists. For this review, we will focus on consumer reports for employment purposes.

 

What is a Consumer Report?

A consumer report is a written, oral, or other communication from a consumer reporting agency (CRA) that reflects a consumer’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, or general reputation. This information is obtained by entities for eligibility for personal credit, insurance, employment, or other purposes authorized by 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(d). This report can also include criminal and civil records, driving records, civil lawsuits, reference checks, and other information.

A consumer report is much broader in scope than just a credit report or a background check. These reports shared among subsidiary and parent corporations are still protected by the FCRA legislation.

 

Roles in the FCRA Applicable to the Employee / Contractor Screening Process

Consumers – Are individuals, not corporate entities, about whom the report pertains. The individuals we background screen are considered consumers.

Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) Any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole, or part, in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers to furnish consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce to prepare or furnish consumer reports. By this definition, credit bureaus, employment screeners, and tenant screeners are all CRAs. PlusOne Solutions is considered a CRA.

End User A person, or entity, that intends to make use of the information contained in a consumer report for a permissible purpose, under the Act. The employers and contracting Customers are considered End Users.

Furnisher Persons or entities who supply needed information to CRAs. Examples: Banks and other credit grantors.

 

Consumers Rights Under FCRA

Certain steps that must be followed before an entity gets a Consumer Report. Additionally, these steps apply before and after an adverse action is taken based on that report.

  1. Disclose on the nature and scope of the searches to be completed should be a single document that is “clear and conspicuous” and provided to the consumer before any consumer report being requested.
  2. Consent and authorization by consumers must be provided in writing.
  3. Maintain accuracy of reporting.
  4. Adverse Action Process, which includes A Summary of Rights and copy of their report.
  5. The process to dispute the accuracy or incompleteness of information.
  6. Provide access to copies of any report(s) or files held on them.

 

Responsibilities of CRAs, End Users, and Furnishers

Except for the consumer, who has rights under the FCRA as above, detailed below, each role has responsibilities:

  • CRAs – maintain reasonable procedures to assure “maximum possible accuracy” when reporting results per with guidelines; ensure a “permissible purpose” exists before releasing a consumer report; handle reinvestigations when consumer disputes results; make disclosures to consumers; proper disposal of information
  • End Users – ensure disclosure is made and authorization is obtained from the consumer; comply with pre-adverse/adverse requirements and provide certification to the CRA regarding the permissible purpose of the consumer report request.
  • Furnishers – must report accurate information and ensure reinvestigations are conducted in a thorough and timely manner.
Limitations on Report Contents

When CRAs are providing information in the final consumer report, there are some exclusions to be considered. For example, convictions can be reported indefinitely while arrest records and other adverse information (for example, negative credit data, collections, civil judgments) may be limited to seven years only. If an employee is reasonably expected to make more than $75,000, some of these restrictions may not apply. Positive information, which will not cause an adverse impact on the consumer, can be reported without limitation. These guidelines must be followed to ensure compliance. A CRA, such as PlusOne Solutions, must comply with these restrictions when reporting data to end users.

 

FCRA Enforcement

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) jointly share enforcement authority for the FCRA. The EEOC is not a player in the FCRA; however, they influence the contents of the consumer report from the perspective of Title VII and ensuring the information in a consumer report is not used in a discriminatory manner.

Since the FCRA is a federal statute, it is typically prosecuted in federal district court. Claims must be brought either within two years after the consumer learns of the violation, or five years after the violation occurs. Constructive knowledge is all that is required to start the two-year clock.

Additionally, no harm must be proven to file a lawsuit. As a result, “technical” violations of the FCRA, which do not result in an adverse action against a consumer, are now the subject of litigation.

 

Penalties and Plaintiffs

There are two groups of plaintiffs for FCRA actions – FTC/CFPB can bring enforcements and individual consumers can also bring lawsuits known as a private right of action. Adherence to these procedures is important because the FCRA provides for recovery of actual or statutory damages of $100 to $1,000 for each willful or deliberate violation of the statute, plus unlimited punitive damages. These penalties can result in significant settlement leverage for a case because the exposure for a company is potentially catastrophic.

The FCRA is a fee-shifting statute; so, prevailing plaintiffs can recover their reasonable attorney’s expenses as well. Plaintiffs have a right to a jury trial in FCRA cases; so, in most cases, the amount of damages is determined by the jury. FCRA errors are perfect fodder for one or more plaintiffs (also called class representatives) to bring a lawsuit on behalf of a group or “class” of people. Having a group of plaintiffs provides the potential for larger payouts and greater financial losses for non-compliant organizations.

Considerations Beyond the FCRA: State Regulations

The efforts to comply with the FCRA are important, but there may also be state consumer reporting requirements to consider as well. There are almost 20 states with some version, or overlap, of the FCRA rules or components of the legislation. Some of these requirements are preempted by the FCRA, but others may stand.

These state regulations include limitations on what, and how long, certain records may be reported. Additional limitations on reporting credit information, special disclosure or notice requirements, or needs such as offering free copies of reports to the consumer may exist. These laws are often quite detailed with exceptions based on positions being hired for, salary information, or job-relatedness requirements for criminal record reporting. States, municipalities, and even cities can have their versions of consumer reporting acts. While the FCRA is getting all the press these last few years, the state requirements should not be overlooked.

 

Why do our Companies and Customers Need to Know About the FCRA?

The FCRA requires organizations to follow certain procedures when using a consumer reporting agency to obtain a consumer report on current or prospective employees and contractors. When PlusOne Solutions is completing a consumer report on individuals in a contractor network for our customers, our work is regulated by the FCRA. There are obligations around the accuracy and reporting of data, ensuring appropriate disclosures are made and authorization has been obtained, confirming the purpose of the report and the reasonable purpose for obtaining the information in the report and other requirements. Working with our customers, we ensure the required steps are followed and that the consumer’s rights are upheld and respected at all steps of the process.

 

Additional Resources

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

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Interested in learning more about our compliance services? Contact us at (877) 943-0100 or send us a message using the form below.



Quarterly Compliance Update, Q2 2020

Maintaining compliance during the pandemic, updated regulations for joint employment, and in-home contractor screening legislation are all included in this compliance update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

Maintaining Compliance During COVID-19

While the entire industry has joined this wild ride, we continue to work with Customers to ensure their levels of compliance remain strong. This means that for any individual that needs to be rescreened, we are encouraging those screenings are submitted to ensure continued compliance with program requirements. As long as screenings applications are submitted before the expiration date, the individual will continue to report in compliance. This means that even though we have seen some delays with court closures, the authorization status can remain in place if the submission is made. Most drug labs have remained open and are conducting drug testing services. If hours are varied, or locations are closed, this information is contained in our scheduling system. For unique situations, we are working with Customers to locate labs that are open for testing and extending the testing timeline if needed.

Joint Employment Final Rule

The US Department of Labor – Wage and Hour Division – updated its regulations for the first time in almost sixty years and under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there is now definitive guidance on how to determine joint employer status under the Act. This final rule came into effect on March 16, 2020.

The new federal rule narrows the requirements for what is considered a joint employer. The specific scenario applicable to our Customers is when an individual performs work for their employer (for example Servicing Company) that simultaneously benefits another individual or entity (for example, our Customer). Under the new rule, if the organization is not part of the day-to-day decisions of their contractors, they are not considered a joint employer.

A key differentiator in this final rule is the control over work conditions to determine whether it is a right to control or actual control that is being exercised. The following four-factor test outlines considerations about who:

  • Hires and fires employees
  • Supervises and controls work schedules or conditions of employment
  • Determines rate and methods of payment including wages, benefits and hours of work
  • Maintains employment records

The strength of contractor relationships is important to the success of the overall economic model. As always, each case will have its own facts however the need for significant control over the terms and conditions of the individual’s work needs to be evident for a joint employment relationship to exist.

Reviewing contract language and how the relationship between parties is structured can further reduce any liability for wage and hour issues. It is also important for each participant in the relationship to understand their role, restrictions that may be required and how they work together to ensure compliance with the structure of the relationship. PlusOne welcomes this new final rule and looks forward to the future for our Customers and their contractor networks to thrive under this new interpretation.

Update – In-home Contractor Screening Legislation Dies in Subcommittee

In January 2020, the Florida House of Representatives introduced HB-1129 to address the in-home services issue where the background screening of a sub-contractor of a contractor to the retailer was the focus. This legislation was designed to improve the safety and comfort of individuals accepting delivery in their homes.

On March 14, 2020 it was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration. It will need to be reintroduced by a sponsor in order to move forward. That action is expected but no further specifics are available at this time.

 


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How to Stay Safe Doing In-Home Service Work During COVID-19

To our Valued Partners,

Many of you are hard at work dispatching individuals from your company, especially if you specialize in the repair and maintenance of electrical systems, HVAC, plumbing and major appliances. We want to take a minute to say THANK YOU for everything you are doing to keep everyone home and healthy while meeting increased demand during the Coronavirus pandemic. Your team inspires us!

We do want to recognize those of you that have chosen to remain at home because you or a loved one are at risk during this time. We hope you stay healthy and thank you for your contribution to reducing the spread of the virus.

Here are some tips to keep your team safe and healthy while servicing consumers:

Before the visit

  • Have your office team screen callers in advance and delay a scheduled visit if anyone in the home is presently ill.
  • Staff a helpline by experienced personnel who provide free answers to service questions over the phone to help prevent an unnecessary service visit.
  • Add a handwashing station to service vehicles, and stock with masks, gloves, portable hand sanitizer, paper towels, and disinfectant. If these items are not available, substitute diluted Bleach in a spray bottle and rubbing alcohol.
  • Keep sick team members home until they are fully recovered.

 

During and after the visit

  • Have your staff wash or sanitize hands before, during and after the visit, and avoid touching their faces during the day.
  • Staff should limit the items taken in and out of the house and minimize contact with any surfaces other than the direct work area; touched areas should be disinfected before and after use.
  • Staff should wear a mask and gloves during the visit, if available. Not only will this help to keep them safe, but it will also reassure homeowners your company is trying to keep them safe as well.
  • It’s OK to ask the homeowner to step away during the job or keep a safe distance of at least 6 feet from your staff while they work.
  • Have staff sanitize frequently touched areas in the service vehicle as well, such as door handles, cell phone, steering wheel, and dashboard.

 

Returning home

  • Your team should remove their shoes, spray them with disinfectant if possible, and set them aside before re-entering their homes.
  • To keep others safe, they should touch as few surfaces as possible when entering the home, sanitizing any surfaces they may have touched in the process. Put clothing in the wash and take a shower immediately.
  • Once the above steps are complete, they can hug their healthy family members, snuggle their pets, and relax! Great work today!

 

 

PlusOne Solutions is here for you

As you know, our mutual customers are counting on both PlusOne Solutions and your company to stay operational during these turbulent times.

At PlusOne Solutions, your compliance is our priority, and we are happy to report the following:

  • Screening turn-around-time has been minimally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Our recertification process ensures an old background screen is still valid until a new screening is completed.
  • We are processing any documentation sent to us within our normal turnaround times.

Thank you again for everything you do. We appreciate you and look forward to continuing to serve you during this challenging time and please reach out should you need any assistance we are here to help.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.


Questions or comments? We want to hear from you.


Quarterly Compliance Update, Q1 2020

Pending in-home contractor background check legislation, our Continuous Criminal Monitoring program and new gas work requirements in NYC are all included in this compliance update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

Pending In-Home Contractor Screening Legislation

In early January 2020, the Florida House of Representatives introduced HB-1129 to address the in-home services issue that gave rise to a horrific tragedy in South Florida in 2019. In that case, a woman was beaten and burned in her home following a home delivery from a well-known retailer. At issue was that a sub-contractor of a contractor to the retailer was responsible and the process for vetting that individual was weak, at best. The background screening and notification measures from the retailer have been the focus of this legislation and the family of the woman has taken this cause to a legislative end to try to improve the safety and comfort of individuals accepting delivery in their homes.

Based on the legislation as drafted, PlusOne Solutions can confirm our program already exceeds the screening requirements and as such, compliance should be within reach for most of our Customers. We would like to stress this legislation is considerably less robust than initially thought and at present is focused primarily on home delivery services, specifically loading, transportation or shipment, unloading (whether from the factory, store or other place and terminates within consumer home). It does not include repair, maintenance, installation or other services completed in the home, or those services where the servicing individual does not enter the consumer’s home. The legislation also includes detailed adjudication criteria to determine what criminal records are relevant. Additional requirements exist for retailers and liability insurance industry requirements. The proposed effective date is July 1, 2020, however, it has not yet passed the House and we will continue to monitor its progress.

 

Definition of Compliance – One Tech or All Techs?

We have recently seen an increase in customers moving to a tech-to-claim approach, which means that any claim filed for payment must have been completed by a screened and authorized technician. Whether information is contained in the dispatch notes or other filings, the need to screen all technicians within a servicing company is growing. Not only does this allow greater flexibility in who can be assigned jobs, but it also increases the opportunity for companies to pick up more work. Companies are reminded that any individual conducting work under contract with Customers, require their individuals to be compliant with the requirements of their program. This may include background screening, insurance, licensing tracking, TIN matching or badging.

 

We have almost 20,000 techs in Continuous Monitoring, is your network included?

PlusOne Solutions launched a continuous criminal record monitoring service and has seen a keen interest in the offering with over 20,000 individuals being enrolled in the program so far. This service tracks near real-time booking and arrest records for over 85 percent of the U.S. population. Criminal record monitoring is another risk management tool that Customers may want to consider between their current rescreen cycles. It demonstrates due diligence and allows Customers to understand any potential risks that may exist within their network. Each alert is reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure the individual continues to meet the compliance requirements of their program.

 

New Gas Work Requirements in NYC

As of January 1, 2020, the five Buroughs of New York City (NYC) require a Master Plumber License or a Gas Qualification for all gas work as defined in the NYC fuel gas codes. There are two types of Gas Qualifications, Full or Limited. In order to obtain a Full Qualification, you must be under the direct and continuing supervision of a Master Plumber. A Full Qualification does not expire. To obtain a Limited Qualification, you must be under the personal and immediate supervision of a Licensed Plumber or Full Qualification individual. A Limited Qualification expires after five years and is not renewable. Both the Master Plumber License and Gas Qualifications must be obtained through the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) through DOB NOW. For more information, you can review the entire law changes for Local Law 150.

 

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Quarterly Compliance Update, Q4 2019

Pending legislation for in-home contractors, rising marijuana-related arrests, and new protections for contractors are all part of this compliance update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

Pending In-Home Contractor Screening Legislation

A recent tragedy in South Florida has given rise to the potential introduction of legislation that will govern requirements around in-home contractor screening. As part of our work and support of our industry association, Professional Background Screening Association, we are closely monitoring the progress on this. Although just starting in Florida, the commitment to such a position is strong and we know once one state starts…the others soon follow. From our experience, we are pleased to confirm our screening package is well in line with any proposed requirements and we will work closely to ensure our customers are prepared and compliant if legislation is imposed.

 

U.S. Marijuana Arrests Rise Again

Last year was the third straight year the total number of persons arrested in the US for violating marijuana rose more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested for violent crimes. Of those arrested for cannabis-related activities, 90 percent were for possession only. This is a stat we are watching closely as states who have legalized the adult use of cannabis have seen a decrease in arrests in those jurisdictions and some have created prohibitions for even using these convictions.

 

NY Human Rights Law Extends Protections to Contractors

In September 2019, NY City Council passed Int. 0316-A which deepens the scope of the NY City Human Rights to ensure independent contractors are now protected by the Human Rights Law that will allow them to file complaints related to harassment or discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, religion and other protected categories. The coverage applies to any business that employs or engages at least four employees of contractors combined.

 

Canada Creates “Dependent Contractor” Definition

Sitting between the known definitions of employee and contractor is a new concept termed “dependent contractor.” This working relationship is not an employment relationship, but a dependent contractor may be entitled to some benefits if they are “economically dependent” on another business. If a contractor if exclusively or nearly exclusively (more than 50 percent) reliant on the other contracting party’s business for income, the contractor may be entitled to reasonable notice of termination or pay in lieu. When working with independent contractors, Customers are reminded to ensure the relationships are properly structured to meet operational and business needs.

 

PlusOne Solutions Achieves PCI – DSS Certification Level I Certification – 2019

As an industry provider of compliance solutions, PlusOne Solutions is committed to cybersecurity. We are honored to announce we have again achieved the PCI-DSS V3.2 Level 1 certification and Attestation of Compliance. Compliance with the PCI-DSS helps to alleviate vulnerabilities and protect cardholder data. Maintaining payment security is required for all entities that store, process or transmit cardholder data. Guidance for maintaining payment security is provided in PCI security standards. These set the technical and operational requirements for organizations accepting or processing payment transactions, and for software developers and manufacturers of applications and devices used in those transactions. Read more here.

 

NAPBS is now the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA)

At the Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX, our professional trade association evolved into a truly global association. The new name and logo symbolize global reach, emphasizing how seamlessly the association shares information, expertise, and goals for the future of the industry.

 

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Quarterly Compliance Update, Q3 2019

This compliance update includes marijuana legislation statistics and key takeaways from the United States General Accounting Office report.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

Some Updated Stats in the Time of Marijuana Legalization

Quest Diagnostics is a leading drug testing company and our largest collection site partner. In their recent report, “The new age of marijuana”, come details of how marijuana is changing our world as it continues to shape our workplace policies and perspectives on drug use. For reference, Marijuana is dried flowers and leaves of the Cannabis Sativa plant and contains the psychoactive chemical delta- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Some notable stats from the report are:

  • Drug potency is increasing – in 1992, the average concentration of THC in marijuana was 3.8% and this rose to 12.2% in 2014.
  • Ingestion of the drug is available in more forms than ever – smoking, e-cigarettes, and edibles – syrups, chocolate bars, lollipops, and other forms – making it more accessible.
  • 33 states (and DC, Guam, PR, and USVI) have passed medical marijuana legislation, 10 (and DC) have legalized recreational use of marijuana in the US and all of Canada has legalized marijuana (though drug screening is still limited).
  • Marijuana remains a federally prohibited Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Marijuana positivity increased by nearly 8% in the general U.S. workforce and by almost 5% in the safety-sensitive workforce.

Drug testing can help to improve employee morale and productivity while decreasing absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft and is an important component in many compliance programs. PlusOne Solutions is continuing to watch the evolution of this issue closely and the impact it may have on Customer programs.

 

United States General Accounting Office (GAO) Report – July 2019

After a year-long study, GAO submitted its report to the US Congress and its two main findings were the need for clear guidelines around reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy and investigations of consumer disputes. These are current areas of focus for the enforcement actions of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who regulate our industry as it relates to background screening. This report by the GAO also sets the stage for possible changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which has not seen updates since it was published 50 years ago.

PlusOne Solutions has long had a unique and thorough approach to ensuring the accuracy of information not only in the consumer reports we complete but also in the identifiers that are used when conducting searches. By taking extra steps to compare data, balancing technology and manual review of records and using all sources of information available to us, we believe we exceed any bar set for reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy. Our consumer dispute occurrence is extremely low and is owed to the accuracy steps noted above, as well as to the consumer-friendly dispute and appeal process that is followed.

The FCRA is neither a clear, nor helpful, statute so we look forward to any direction.

 

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Quarterly Compliance Update, Q2 2019

A continuous monitoring option for background checks, infrastructure penetration testing results, and an upcoming opportunity for Fair Credit Reporting Act training are all part of this compliance update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

Are you interested in continuous monitoring?

PlusOne Solutions completes a robust background screening at onboarding and every two years thereafter. We are currently exploring the option of offering continuous monitoring for U.S. networks. There is no equivalent service in Canada. The information obtained from monitoring can identify potential behavior that may pose a risk to your business, customers, brand, customer loyalty and reputation. Working with a partner who is a leader in data solutions will provide us access to near-real-time incarceration data for over 140 million U.S. booking records from over 2,800 county jails and Department of Corrections facilities. This covers upwards of 73 percent of the population and continues to increase as more sources are added. Continuous monitoring would typically provide notice within 24 hours of an incarceration or booking event. These alerts provide proactive and timely information and cover a wider geographic area than the local level county record check, which may be done at the time of re-screening.

What is the process?
In the proposed process, PlusOne Solutions reviews all received information to confirm it belongs to the correct individual and the relevance of the charges to their eligibility. If the charges are relevant, PlusOne Solutions contacts the individual involved and attempts to gain an understanding of the circumstances and the gravity of the offense. We will seek independent verification or additional details. After, we would work together to determine what action, if any at all, should be taken with the individual. PlusOne may even determine that no action can be taken until after court proceedings are completed.

Ideally, Customers should maintain a contractual requirement across their service network for self-reporting of any arrest or incarceration activity that occurs between screening periods. This does not necessarily mean the individual will be considered ineligible for program requirements if there is a reportable event, only that you are presented with the opportunity to investigate the matter further. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requirements, an arrest alone is not enough to make adverse decisions against an individual.

Continuous monitoring can play an important role in an overall risk management program and may be critical in protecting the most important assets of your business – your customers, reputation and other resources. Want to learn more? Contact us for more information.

 

Infrastructure Penetration Testing Results 2019

Based on an external penetration test conducted last month, the risk to PlusOne Solutions’ external infrastructure and internal networks are well within acceptable levels. “With the size of PlusOne Solutions’ infrastructure and amount of web applications, they have done an excellent job of securing their systems and customer information, and they present a clear desire to continue to do so. Compared to peer institutions, PlusOne Solutions appears above average regarding cybersecurity,” the report states.

 

The value of a good name

Did you know the most important piece of information in the background search is the individual’s name? This includes accurate and complete spelling of the first, middle and last name, alias names as well as maiden or alternate names. Including all these names improves the overall result. The middle name is becoming increasingly important to help PlusOne Solutions determine if a record belongs to an individual, especially when they have a common name.

 

Annual FCRA User Certification Training – Spring 2019

PlusOne Solutions will once again be providing the annual Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) training module for all customer users. The training covers the basics of this law, the responsibilities of requesting and using consumer reports, as well as the obligations for the destruction of information. This is a training for our U.S.-based customers, as the FCRA only applies to the U.S.

Why does this matter?
As a National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Accredited agency, PlusOne Solutions requests an annual certification from customers to ensure their partnership in remaining compliant with FCRA obligations. Completion of this training constitutes certification and keeps customer users updated on ongoing trends as well.

 

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Quarterly Compliance Update, Q1 2019

Ban the Box / Fair Chance hiring, Marijuana drug testing and Fair Credit Reporting Act training are all part of this compliance update.

Each quarter, PlusOne Solutions provides a compliance update to keep you abreast of changes and updates in legal developments as well as company news. This information is provided for education only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

On Our 2019 Radar:

Ban the Box / Fair Chance legislation, which may create requirements when using criminal records in employment/contracting decisions, salary history bans, which are designed to address inequity in pay rates, and data privacy laws continue to be the hottest areas impacting our services. The fair and equitable treatment of all screening candidates, the protection of their information and the creation of opportunities underscore many of these new initiatives.

Why does this matter?
Ban the Box and Fair Chance hiring is not a trend. We fully expect these laws to continue at the county, state and possibly even federal levels. As PlusOne Solutions acts as a partner for many of our clients on the state and federal consumer reporting requirements, this may also encompass the individualized assessment, pre-adverse/adverse letter contents or other processes required by these laws. It should be noted that employers (i.e. network companies) may have additional responsibilities related to this legislation and are encouraged to seek legal counsel when using criminal record information for hiring/employment decisions.

 

Marijuana Drug Test Results Handling:

With more states legalizing both recreational and medical marijuana, the impact is seen on drug test results. PlusOne Solutions utilizes the following standard operating procedure when a non-negative drug test result is returned for marijuana, meaning the test results show usage above the acceptable cut-off levels. In these cases, PlusOne Solutions will contact the donor to seek documentation that supports the legal use of marijuana. Depending on the regulations, acceptable documentation might be the presentation of a current prescription or medical marijuana card. If such documentation is provided, the donor may be deemed eligible. If no reply or documentation is received, the result will remain non-negative and the result will be not eligible.

NOTE: We do not verify the accuracy of any prescription or medical marijuana card. We only verify that the prescription or medical marijuana card is current, based on the test date, and that it belongs to the donor. It is taken at face value only, and we are not assuming any responsibility. If other drugs created the non-negative result, the Medical Review Officer (MRO) will process those according to the normal process. If acceptable information is provided and only a marijuana result remains, the aforementioned process will be followed.

Why does this matter?

As marijuana is legalized in more jurisdictions, the handling and requirements to accept its use are changing. This is an area we will continue to monitor and continue to work with our customers on how best to handle these results.

 

Upcoming Annual FCRA User Certification Training – Spring 2019

Again this year, PlusOne Solutions is providing its annual training module for all Customer users regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This training covers the basics of the law, the responsibilities of requesting and using consumer reports as well as obligations for the destruction of information.

Why does this matter?

As a National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Accredited agency, PlusOne Solutions requests an annual certification from Customers to ensure their partnership in remaining compliant with FCRA obligations. Completion of this training constitutes certification and keeps Customer users updated on ongoing trends as well.

 

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Questions or comments? We want to hear from you.