My Virtual Experience at PBSA’s Annual Conference

Posted: October 07, 2020


Ah, Autumn. To many, this means replacing the shorts and tank tops in their closets with sweaters and jeans, scoping out some good-looking soup or cider recipes, or cleaning up the yard in preparation for the leaves and the eventual snowfall. But for those of us in the background screening industry, this time of year also means the Annual PBSA Conference!

The Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) holds an annual conference that so many in the industry look forward to, year after year. Those in compliance can enjoy the many sessions focused on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), recent litigation trends, and national and international privacy laws, hosted by reputable and knowledgeable attorneys and industry experts. Sales Associates can learn how to improve their demos and land large clients, and management can discuss ways to improve the employee experience and deal with different human resource related issues. Between sessions, everyone refills their coffee and packs into the large exhibit hall to give a high-five or a handshake to an existing vendor and check out the booths and offerings of potential new vendors. In the evenings, vendors and Consumer Reporting Agency employees get together with attorneys and PBSA staff and volunteers to chat over food and drinks during the much beloved PBSA Happy Hours, where conference goers greet each other as old friends and share a pat on the back or a funny story about a past conference.

As I am sure everyone is frustratingly aware, 2020 has thrown a lot at us. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc around the globe, we have all, at minimum, experienced changes in our daily routines. Many are working or schooling from home, meetings have gone virtual, and many activities we look forward to are being delayed or even cancelled. Many regular PBSA Conference attendees, and those new to the industry excited for their first PBSA experience, went in to Q2 already mourning the absence of the PBSA Conference, which many assumed would be cancelled due to the pandemic.

Luckily, we were all able to share a collective (but isolated and likely masked!) sigh of relief when we heard the news that the 2020 conference scheduled for mid-September would not be cancelled. Dedicated PBSA staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to try to find solutions and were able to forge ahead and offer the first ever Virtual PBSA Annual Conference.

Despite some small technological hiccups, conference attendees “poured in” to the sessions and were able to absorb all the excellent information that we have come to expect from this annual event. Additionally, the virtual environment also allowed for some functions that would not have been available to us in real-time. Attendees could chat live with the session hosts to ask important questions and receive prompt answers, and instead of being limited to the laws of space-time, could re-watch the sessions or watch two sessions that originally occurred at the same time.

And, have no fear that being remote meant we were unable to attend our PBSA Happy Hours. In place of after-hours drinks with live music, Conference Sponsors hosted “Virtual Happy Hours”: meetings held in virtual settings, where exhibitors and attendees could chat with a beer or wine in the comfort of their own homes.

Through this virtual conference, we were able to absorb and take away so much valuable information, such as the most recent and significant litigation trends impacting our industry and our clients. In the spotlight as always is the importance of having a compliant adverse action process. If you intend to take adverse action against an applicant or employee based in whole or in part on the information found in a consumer report, there are many things you need to do to ensure proper compliance. Not only do you have obligations under the federal FCRA, there are also state and even local (county or city) requirements that may apply, as well as guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that should be considered.

Along with adverse action is the ever-present risk associated with using non-compliant disclosure and authorization forms. Disclosure forms especially have always been a pain point, particularly due to the lack of clear guidance from regulatory bodies as to what should—and should not—be included. Thanks to recent decisions made in the 9th circuit court, we have a bit more clarity into what a proper FCRA disclosure should look like.

To help ensure you do not find yourself on the steadily-increasing list of employers involved in class-action suits related to adverse action and FCRA disclosure and authorization, Info Cubic would love to provide a free inspection of your forms and help educate you in compliance and industry best practice. Contact our FCRA-Certified Client Service Ninjas today.

This year, we may not have been able to share that pat on the back or that funny story (or our wicked dance moves), but we did get to spend time with and learn from those who share our love for background screening. The annual PBSA Conference continues to be a place of comradery and a pool of invaluable knowledge that we are happy to cannonball right into every year. We are looking forward to the next PBSA conference, whether it be in person or virtual and wish everyone good health. Cheers!

Information provided by Info Cubic are for educational purposes only. Info Cubic does not provide legal advice and recommends that you review all procedures and documents with Legal Counsel prior to implementation in order to guarantee compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. 

Eden Hutchinson 
Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager
Info Cubic