Uber and Lyft, two of the largest ride-sharing platforms, have been catching a lot of heat over their background screening programs. In light of the latest terrorist attack by a NY Uber driver, as well as the case of the Lyft driver who was convicted of federal terrorism 5 months before he started driving for Lyft, I feel it’s the perfect time to examine how two such employees were able to pass background checks. First, let’s not point the finger at Uber and Lyft. Let’s start with the background screening industry.
The background screening industry is NOT the most transparent industry. For over 13 years I have owned a background screening firm and for that entire time, I have been saying that our industry has evolved into a competitive environment in which screening firms will cut corners, remove solutions from packages, and limit reports when not required by law in order to stay competitive in pricing or turnaround times.
I spend an inordinate amount of time working with lawmakers on best practice policies and defending this challenging industry. My recommendations are always to define in the code what the background check requires. Doing so will remove the option for screening firms to cut corners.
I am NOT saying that the background screening firms for Lyft and Uber cut any corners. I have no way of knowing this without running the background checks myself, but I will say that it is extremely hard for organizations to understand exactly what their background screening provider includes in an employee background check.
There are 7 reasons a criminal could pass an employee background check:
- Convicted in County Outside of Where They Live. Background screening firms generally rely on SSN Trace to provide an address and then they search counties associated with this address for a 7 or 10 year period.
- No Federal Criminal Courts Search. Background check firms do not always add the Federal Criminal Search to their packages. It appears that the Lyft driver who was convicted of federal terrorism was convicted in federal courts.
- Only Search Federal District Court. Only searching the federal district courts where the applicant has lived for 7 or 10 years does not provide a thorough report.
- Not Searching Alias Names. It is still not a common practice to include an alias or other names on the background check, but doing so is a best practice that should ALWAYS be included.
- Limit the Scope of Background Check. Many screening firms adopt a 7 year restricted search nationwide. We suggest that the information only be restricted to what federal or state laws require. Example, a conviction in Indiana should not be limited to 7 years because the state allows reporting of all convictions as does the federal FCRA.
- Not Conducting Employee Rechecks. Background screening is not a one and done process. Employee background checks should be conducted on an ongoing basis.
- The Criminal Conviction Not Reportable. Yes, it is true many states have adopted restrictions on what convictions can be reported.
This wave of ride-share drivers with serious criminal backgrounds will likely result in a knee jerk reaction from policymakers who do not understand everything and therefore assume that a government background check like the FBI conducts would have caught this. Not true.
The terrorist in NY appears to have had some citations in his background. This would be easily found in an MVR check; however, if they were non-moving violations, they would not necessarily be exclude him from driving. Also, traffic citations are not likely to show up in an FBI background check. It would still take a private company search of MVR records to obtain this important information.
I would suggest that ride-share companies like Uber or Lyft review their background screening programs and determine where the ball was dropped. If it was as a result of the screening firm not using best practices, then correct that by finding a new partner. If it is because government has restricted what information can be reported, then make that public in order to open up lines of communication with lawmakers with the intent to remove these restrictive loopholes that may be allowing terrorists to slip through the cracks.
An obvious solution is to ensure that you are using the best screening solutions available. Our leadership team and advisory board of law enforcement, secret service, Navy Seals, and cyber intelligence experts are continually adopting the most cutting-edge technologies.
Three solutions that we have that could greatly reduce your risk:
- ArrestAlert. We have direct integration with 80% of the jails in the U.S. and can access arrest data that can be used for:
- Pre-Employment. Find arrests outside the scope of where a candidate has lived or worked. Most jail data goes back a minimum of 10 years.
- Real-Time Monitoring. We can add your employees to real-time arrest monitoring, so you are immediately notified of any arrests.
- The software will automate the process of managing re-checks as well as real-time ArrestAlert monitoring.
- Real-Time MVR monitoring. Not every state provides real-time MVR monitoring, but where available, this will alert you to any traffic citations.
If you would like more information, please email or call us: firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-434-0002