Helping you get the FACTS on Pre-employment Background Checks.

The blog is a valuable information source for human resource professionals and those seeking employment alike. We provide employment screening to hundreds of corporations and organizations throughout the United States. In doing so, we have an ongoing duty to stay abreast of changing trends as well as state and federal legislation. Here we bring you straightforward information on the how's, why's, do's and dont's, of applicant background checks.


Have a question? We're more than happy to evaluate your current processes or answer questions regarding employment screening procedures, best practices, how to get started and F.C.R.A compliance. Give us a call, we're here to help! 888.578.8600 or email

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is Your Pre-Employment Screening Provider Safe Harbor Certified?

The best applicant isn't always around the corner, or even in the next state. The world is quickly becoming a smaller place with a diverse workforce essential for international services and trade.

Currently over 12% of the U.S. population consists of foreign born residents.

That means 12 percent or more of your applicant background checks may involve international criminal record searches, international education verifications, and international past employment verifications.

You need a background screening company capable of retrieving data from anywhere in the world. You also need a screening agency that will keep your applicant's sensitive information secure by following the data transmission laws of the United States, as well as countries abroad.

One way a company can demonstrate their commitment to data security and international compliance is by completing a government certification process known as Safe Harbor. This certification ensures that a companies policies and protocols meet the standards of both the United States and European Union; each a leading proponent of applicant privacy.

The U.S.-European Union Safe Harbor program provides a number of important benefits to U.S. and European Union firms. Benefits for participating U.S. organizations include:
  • All 27 Member States of the European Union will be bound by the European Commission’s finding of adequacy.
  • Organizations participating in the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor program will be deemed adequate and data flows to those organizations will continue.
  • Member State requirements for prior approval of data transfers either will be waived or approval will be automatically granted.
  • Claims brought by EU citizens against U.S. organizations will be heard in the U.S. subject to limited exceptions.
  • Notice - Individuals must be informed that their data is being collected and about how it will be used.
  • Choice - Individuals must have the ability to opt out of the collection and forward transfer of the data to third parties.
  • Onward Transfer - Transfers of data to third parties may only occur to other organizations that follow adequate data protection principles.
  • Security - Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent loss of collected information.
  • Data Integrity - Data must be relevant and reliable for the purpose it was collected for.
  • Access - Individuals must be able to access information held about them, and correct or delete it if it's inaccurate.
  • Enforcement - There must be effective means of enforcing these rules.
While Safe Harbor certification isn't a 100% guarantee that a company will follow the required guidelines, any company which is self-certifying must designate, and pay, for a third party mediation/arbitration firm which would investigate claims against the company for not following Safe Harbor policies.

If you use applicant background checks, you will likely need access to international searches in the near future. Choose a company that has taken the time and effort to earn their Safe Harbor Certification as an extra layer of protection for your company and your applicant's data. Safe Harbor is technically a "Self-Certification" Process, but that doesn't mean any company can bare the seal of Safe Harbor Certification. Along with the previously mentioned designation for third party mediation/arbitration, privacy policies and security guarantees must be submitted for review and approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These policies must also be displayed on the companies public access web site. For a list of Safe Harbor Certified companies, click here.
Questions on Safe Harbor or other international background screening topics?Feel free to give us a call at 888.578.8600 or email We're here to help! Get a quote now.

Background Screening Consultants LLC, (DBA is a Safe Harbor Certified company and proud member of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Professional Background Screeners. provides pre-employment screening services in the United States as well as criminal record searches, employment verification and education verifications in over 250 countries. View Our Safe Harbor Certification


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