Inside Wholesale Q&A with EVP and General Counsel, Vince Pascarella
Where the worlds of compliance, legal, and quality meet, you’ll find Vince Pascarella, EVP and General Counsel for Wholesale Screening Solutions. A background screening industry veteran with more than 20 years’ experience, Vince shares his view on trends impacting CRAs and how these trends should impact their choice of public records research providers.
Q: What do you see as the top trends impacting CRAs from a legal and compliance standpoint?
A: First, the threat of class-related claims against CRAs is still very much alive. Despite going all the way to and through the Supreme Court, the Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins case have created more confusion than clarity regarding the validity of certain federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claims. Courts have fallen on both sides of Spokeo, with some finding a narrow definition of actual harm and others still interpreting mere technical violations of the FCRA as actual harm.
A second trend is an increasing demand among CRAs that their public records research providers deliver services in a way that assists the CRA in better meeting their quality and compliance obligations.
More advanced customers are increasingly building operating platforms with features and functionality that allow them to more consistently, and in some cases automatically, enhance the quality and compliance of their public record research result. They are using experience, compliance knowledge and technical skill to create innovative software solutions in collaboration with their public record research providers that more effectively address long-term systemic industry-wide compliance challenges. They are increasingly requiring their providers to keep up technically as well as from a compliance knowledge perspective. We’re seeing a welcomed increase in the types of the due diligence a CRA directs toward their public records research providers. Examples include: what are the details of the providers’ quality assurance program? What is their error rate? What is their error rate trend? How do they demonstrate subject matter expertise? Are they knowledgeable about the differences between the jurisdictions they research with respect to research methodologies and the availability of data?
A third trend is significant changes with respect to what is and is not requested to be researched by an end user or CRA, and what is provided by a researcher when a standard criminal record search request is made. I’ve been in this space for over 20 years and I’ve seen the industry do a complete 180 degree turn on this. It used to be that a researcher would generally be requested to provide everything available from the information source. Today, that former “standard” is so potentially dangerous to the end user, CRA and provider, that the new “standard” in the industry is to request from the provider less than the maximum depth and breadth of information available from the information source. This trend toward erring on the side of a CRA “under-reporting” rather than “over–reporting” has both potential positive and potential negative outcomes. On the positive side, under-reporting allows some who might otherwise be excluded from certain opportunities based on a past criminal record to receive a more fair chance at some opportunities. On the other hand, if a CRA is limiting what it’s reporting due to fear of defending itself in litigation rather than reporting the maximum depth and breadth of information legally reportable, the end user and CRA could suffer legal and brand-related problems when someone gets the wrong job and causes harm. It’s a catch 22 situation for employers and CRAs that is often very difficult to navigate.
Q: How is Wholesale Screening Solutions responding to these trends?
A: We find ourselves well-positioned at the crossroads of compliance, legal and quality. Increasingly important to our customer base is the ability of their research provider to assist in meeting the CRA’s compliance obligations. We know that, as a result of the trends already described, it is becoming increasingly important to the CRA community, particularly those who more commonly face litigation and threats of litigation, to have a partner with strong compliance and quality programs. At Wholesale Screening Solutions, we have an operating platform built on modern architecture, with enough customizable features and functionality to parse data, analyze data, show trends, and significantly reduce the occurrence of preventable errors and defects.
We are able to demonstrate the quality measures we have in place and what those measures are intended to address. We are also able to point to historical trends to show how we have identified and addressed past issues to better detect and reduce errors.
The connections and interplay between compliance, legal, and quality are strong and complex. As CRAs continue to see their roles and responsibilities transform in the midst of a more highly litigious, regulated, and complex compliance environment, their choice of public records research provider is more important than ever.
We invite you to learn more about our quality program and how it can strengthen your compliance program and reduce your potential legal exposure.