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Are Uber and Lyft dropping the ball on driver background checks?

Some are saying both companies need to do more when it comes to background checks.

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CNET’s Download has accused Uber and Lyft of performing lax background checks on would-be drivers since neither requires fingerprints. Is this the case?

Noting that both ride-sharing services use “flimsy background checks,” the site found that there have been 51 reported deaths tied to passengers of the services since 2014. Since 2013, 101 physical assaults and 384 sexual assaults have been alleged, while 18 passengers have reported being kidnapped or held against their will.

Download found that both companies continue to use Checkr for background checks, a service that doesn’t require fingerprints. By doing so, the companies failed to catch the criminal records of 25 drivers in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas alone.

What can be done? It suggests Uber and Lyft should look at the taxi licensing protocol, Live Scan, which uses fingerprints as part of the background check. Fingerprints allow background check services to access the FBI criminal database. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón has said background checks are “completely worthless” without them.

Why aren’t they using these type of services? Cost could certainly be a factor. Using Live Scan costs $50 per person plus shipping fees. By contrast, Checkr’s fees are anywhere from $0.75 to $20, depending on the state. Download says using Live Scan would cost Uber around $37.5 million to perform this test on its 750,000 drivers.

No doubt fingerprinting would help Uber and Lyft better identify more criminals that would otherwise slip through the cracks. Still, Download offers no proof that the “flimsy” checks are what led to any of the crimes mentioned above. We don’t know, for example, whether any of the 25 criminals identified in California were involved in any of those crimes.

Regardless, it would probably be a good idea for both companies to add fingerprint checks going forward. It couldn’t hurt, right?

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Bryan considers himself a well-rounded techie, having written articles for MakeUseOf, KnowTechie, AppAdvice, iDownload Blog. When he's not writing, he's being a single dad and rooting for his alma mater, Penn State, or cheering on the Patriots.

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