Industry Group Calls for Background Checks on Field Service Workers

The voting members of SIRs - the Society of Independent Representatives - approved changes to membership requirements to include the requirement that all members be pre-screened with a criminal background check and have no felony arrests or convictions to become and remain a SIRs member.

Additionally, those offering property preservation services will be required to become certified by means of the SIRs property preservation exam prior to applying for membership, the organization said.

In recent years, the field service industry has experienced an influx of a great many field providers. There are numerous seeking their self-employment for various reasons including but not limited to the changing economic climate, a desire to cash in on the rising foreclosure rates, and/or the inability to become otherwise employed due to their drug addictions and/or felony criminal backgrounds.

As end-clients find additional needs for contracted field services, risk exposure has become apparent. The criminal background clearance has been gradually entering the industry as lenders and insurers become more selective in choosing providers from the ever-growing list, the organization said.

SIRs has chosen to implement the pre-screening of members to provide a readily available source of inspectors and property preservationists of proven good character. Beginning with 2007, all SIRs members will be already proven as having a clear criminal background. With a SIRs member, clients will know the contractor hired to knock on a primary client's door is of good character.

Since inception, SIRs had a goal of eventually requiring members to be proven capable through certification programs. As with inspectors, the list of available preservation contractors has been steadily growing. Three years ago, SIRs announced the property preservation exam as available to the entire industry at a cost of only $40. To date, approximately 15 preservation contractors have taken and passed the exam to become certified.

During the same time period, an appalling number of properties have suffered damages resulting in part by preservation contractors being hired that simply do not know how to provide the services they offer. Lenders, insurance companies and servicers have voiced their displeasure by various means such as quizzes being implemented to test basic concepts, fines being imposed and increased insurance claims.

SIRs is pleased the members have chosen to implement the highest standards in the industry for their organization. During the remainder of 2006, current members will be complying with their new requirements. All new applicants, beginning with October 2006, must comply with both property preservation certification and criminal background checks.

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