Uber Criticized for Background Checks, But Many Services Do Far Less

August 28, 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | by

In a new case of mixing good information with bad, several California counties have brought a civil suit against ride-sharing service Uber on the grounds that their background checks do not meet state standards. Taxi drivers are required to submit to a LiveScan fingerprint check, which the counties insist is “the most comprehensive form of driver screening methodology”—a claim being countered by Accurate and Checkr, the two companies that run name-based background checks on Uber drivers.

The counties appear to be critical of the standards being used. A seven-year scope, which is not only effective but also the limit of many reportable records under the FCRA and California state law, is deemed insufficient against the FBI fingerprint database. However, the argument that a fingerprint check is far superior is misguided. There’s no inherent safety in trusting a fingerprint check any more than you would a name-based check. The fact that a certain number of drivers (25, according to the suit) were able to gain employment despite having criminal records only introduces more questions. What was the criteria and cutoff date for crimes? How many drivers were screened in total? There will always be a certain percentage of missed/inaccurate results via any search method (yes, including fingerprinting). The difference is it’s often impossible to know with a fingerprint search where missing records could be located. With a name-based, social trace-driven background check, there’s a much better chance of locating records pertinent to the individual.

All of this, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Many apps that enable people to share goods and services with each other run no background checks of any kind. This includes Airbnb, which prefers to use a system of identity validation, linking profiles to social media accounts, and using a peer review system. Other services include:

  • DogVacay (“Airbnb for dogs”)
  • Getaround, RelayRides (car sharing)
  • Urbansitter, Care.com (babysitting; background checks are optional)

The question here, as always, is about cost vs. risk. Many companies cannot afford an expensive background check, yet they also cannot afford to hire without one. There’s also the question of EEOC rules: just as Uber is being sued for hiring drivers with criminal records, there’s many cases of companies being sued by the EEOC for unfairly excluding people from employment.

It’s hard to know where the line is, which is why you shouldn’t take any risks. Consider partnering with Confirm Choice and allow us to assess your hiring policy and make recommendations based on our years of industry knowledge. Compliance is our top priority and we can help you build a reliable, cost-effective background screening package for your business. Contact us today.