Steven Brownstein and The Background Investigator Celebrates 20th Anniversary As First and Longest
The Background Investigator – the first and longest running publication in the background screening industry – is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020 after being founded back in 2001 by publisher Steven Brownstein. The most recent issue is available at www.thebackgroundinvestigator.com.
The Background Investigator offers stories, national and international news, and archived editions for the screening industry. The monthly publication is an “information resource for background screening” and is “dedicated to pre-employment screenings everywhere,” according to its website.
Brownstein began in the screening industry 1986 assisting a friend doing court filings in Chicago more than 30 years ago. He then began to search counties surrounding Chicago and started to build a national network. In 1989, Brownstein started his first company, CrimeSearch which he later sold. He also started offering international criminal record searches. His first international searches were in Puerto Rico and Canada in the early 90s. He recalls at first traveling to San Juan weekly.
In 2001, Brownstein founded a company that he still owns, Straightline International, which offers international background history checks and criminal record searches.
Brownstein originated the idea of holding conferences for background screeners. He sponsored and organized the nation’s first background screening industry conference in April of 2002 in Long Beach, California. Prior to the Long Beach conference, there were no screening industry events, meetings, or continuing education and very few people in the industry even knew each other. I was invited to give the keynote talk at the inaugural Long Beach conference about compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Brownstein moved his events to Florida and in November of 2002, Brownstein sponsored a large national conference in Tampa, Florida complete with numerous educational sessions. Thanks to Steven, more than 175 screening professionals attended as well as vendors and suppliers to the screening industry.
Brownstein encouraged the attendees at his conferences to think in terms of a national association in order to promote and protect the screening industry. He had the foresight to see that the industry needed to organize itself. It was at that 2002 Tampa conference that members of the screening industry began to develop a plan to form a professional association.
Phyllis Nadel – who manages advertising for The Background Investigator in the United States – worked closely with Brownstein to coordinate the yearly conferences in Tampa, which continued until 2010, and she has worked with him in the screening industry since 1998, according to Brownstein.
In December of 2007, Brownstein also sponsored the first-of-its-kind international background screening conference that was held in Bangalore, India. Since that time, international background screening has also grown tremendously along with the expanding global economy. I also had he opportunity to be the keynote speaker at that conference and attended along with Barry Nixon.
The Brownstein conferences set the stage and lead directly to the formation of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), a nonprofit trade group representing the screening industry formerly known as the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Following the 2002 Tampa conference, an interim steering committee formed to start planning an industry association that lead to the founding of the PBSA in 2003. The first PBSA meeting was in Arizona in 2004. The PBSA currently represents more than 880 member companies engaged in background screening across the United States as well as professional screeners around the world.
The screening industry has progressed immensely since Brownstein's first conferences in 2002, and that is due in a large part to the efforts of Steven Brownstein and Phyllis Nadel holding the first industry conferences and educational sessions along with the first industry trade shows.