Uber gets a lot of lawsuits. In 2017 alone, between the months of January and August, Uber racked up 433 different lawsuits.
The cases are coming from drivers, passengers, and states. Drivers are looking for better pay and rights, states are looking to better regular the service, and passengers are challenging Uber over mistreatment by drivers.
Since there are so many cases of driver mistreatment in the courts, we are going to look at what Uber is doing to prevent drivers from being harassed by their drivers. One process Uber has in place is the Uber background check.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly what the screening process entails, how it’s done, what it checks – and what it doesn’t check. We’ll also cover what to do as a driver if your application takes too long or you get deactivated.
Disclaimer: This article has been written based on our own research and findings, but we can’t guarantee the information outlined below will apply to every driver or situation. This article is meant to give potential and existing drivers a look into the background check, but for definitive questions about your own situation, please contact Uber directly.
Before applying to drive, we recommend checking to make sure you meet the Uber vehicle and driver requirements.
Let’s dive right in and take a look at the Uber background check process and see what’s really going on.
What Is An Uber Background Check?
The Uber background check is the final step in the Uber driver signup process. At the end of a driver’s application, candidates are prompted to allow Uber, through a third-party provider, to run a background check on them.
The check reviews the applicant’s Motor Vehicle record and criminal history. Uber’s priority is to make sure they keep riders as safe as possible by disqualifying drivers with a terrible driving record and/or who have felonies on their records.
The Anatomy of an Uber Background Check
There are two elements which are checked during a background check. The first is company-specific criteria. A bank, for instance, might put a high priority on checking for applicant’s history of any financial fraud over the past 10 years. They may not care about their employees’ driving records.
Uber may not put a high priority on issues such as financial fraud and other non-violent crimes, so they may opt to only look back seven years for those types of crimes. But they will care a lot about violent crimes, sex crimes and unsafe driving records and bad driving records.
The second is general criminal records attached to a person’s identity.
What Prospective Drivers Need to Know about Uber Background Checks
Prospective drivers often complain online that Uber rejected them after completing their background check. If you don’t understand the Uber background check process, rejections can be confusing. As you’ll see, it doesn’t take a serious crime to earn you a rejection from Uber due to their strict set of driver’s record criteria.
According to a post on help.uber.com, when a new driver signs up with Uber they are informed that:
- The background check includes a Motor Vehicle Record review and a criminal background check.
- Local laws and regulations often establish the specific background check criteria that Uber applies, and these criteria can vary significantly from state to state.
In general, to pass the background check drivers must have:
- At least one-year U.S. licensing history (if under 23 years old, must have at least three years licensing history).
- A valid driver’s license and Motor Vehicle Record (MVR)
- No major moving violations, such as DUIs or reckless driving, within the last seven years.
- No more than three minor moving violations in the past three years, such as speeding tickets or failure to obey traffic laws.
- A criminal record that does not include a conviction for a felony, violent crime, or sexual offense within the last seven years.
Uber makes it a point to let drivers know that an Uber background check is free, secure, and private. The check uses your social security number to look at your driving record and criminal history. A credit check is not part of the process.
The key takeaways are:
- Uber focuses a lot of effort on screening drivers to assess their driving record. They also have a strict criterion where no one with a major moving violation within the last seven years will be accepted.
- Uber itself does not actually perform the background checks. They contract this out to a third-party background check provider that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.
- The fact that they contract out the work of background screenings makes it difficult for anyone to win a lawsuit against them by claiming they were negligent in performing background screenings. All their background screenings are performed by a well-respected industry leader and that should inoculate them against most claims of negligence.
- Their criminal background checks are tightly regulated by state and federal law and the laws in each state can vary widely.
- Their criminal background checks are tightly regulated by state and federal law and the laws in each state can vary widely.
What Disqualifies Drivers During an Uber Background Check
- Any major moving violations within the last seven years.
- More than three minor moving violations in the last three years.
- If you’re older than 23 years old, you must have had a U.S. driver’s license and license history that is at least one year old;
- If you’re younger than 23 years old, you must have at least a three-year-old U.S. driving history;
- A criminal conviction within the last seven years for a felony, violent crime or sexual offense.
Although Uber contracts with a major background checking company called Checkr, Uber has the responsibility of making the final decision about drivers based on the information provided to them by Checkr.
Uber has been known to do random, annual checks on existing drivers. A driver may have gotten an email like this one regarding an annual check:
“We are reaching out to notify you that in the next 24-48 hours we will be re-running your background check as part of an annual safety initiative. Safety is of the utmost importance to Uber for our partner-drivers and riders alike, and these background checks are just one way to ensure that all partner-drivers have continued to drive safely since the initial report was run.
As a reminder, in order to pass the background check, you must have:
- A clean Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) with no more than 3 incidents in the past 3 years
- No driving with a suspended license or without insurance in the past 3 years
- No DUIs and no reckless driving
- A clean criminal background check with no felonies or misdemeanors involving theft, violence or drugs
Please Note: The above list is not necessarily comprehensive. Certain states and municipalities may have requirements that differ from the above.
Checkr also provides background screenings for other major app-based on-demand companies such as Instacart, GrubHub, Postmates, and Handy.
Each of these companies is responsible for working with Checkr to make sure they conduct the kind of search that most closely corresponds to the type of work their independent contractors will be performing.
How long does an Uber Background Check Take?
For most drivers, an Uber background check typically takes between 5-7 days to clear. The time it takes for your background check may be longer or shorter, depending on how many applications Checkr is processing at the time you applied.
Uber Background Check Taking Too Long?
If your Uber background check seems like it is taking too long, and it has been longer than 7 days since you applied, reach out to both Checkr and Uber support to see what is going on. You can reach Checkr at email@example.com. Uber is a bit harder to contact, but we have some advice on how to contact Uber further in this article.
Once Checkr approves your application, the ball is in Uber’s court to approve or deny you. If your Uber background check is taking a while, reach out and ask why.
What to Do if Your Uber Background Check is Denied
Uber is not consistent with letting rejected drivers know that they were rejected. You may or may not get an email from them about the rejection.
Uber says they will let you know within 7-10 business days. If you contact them before that time, they will probably tell you to keep waiting. If 10 business days have passed, you should contact Uber.
How to Contact Uber Before You Become a Driver
Uber frequently changes their contact methods. Right now, they’ve established a page where people can contact them without having an account. This is the easiest Uber has ever made it to contact them.
Just go to this page and look for the contact form at the bottom: t.uber.com/contact
However, there is no way of knowing when Uber might change, move or delete that page. If it’s no longer there, then below is a tried and tested method which you can use to contact them.
You’ll either need a rider or a driver account with them. Once you have a rider account, go to help.uber.com. This page is constantly changing so giving specific steps here won’t help. Instead, we’ll give you the general idea.
Click on any of the main question categories, and then do a page search for the word “other”. That will bring up all instances of “other” and “another”. And most of those links will say something like, “I have other questions” or “I have another question” and they will take you to a page where you can send them a message.
For instance, right now, from the first page after you login to help.uber.com, you can click on “Account and Payment Options”. On the next page search the word “other” and click on whichever result served first. I clicked on, “I have another payment question.”
If you’re a prospective driver inquiring about the status of your application, you’re not going to have a payment question, but that’s okay. Type your question into the box and click “Submit”.
When they reply – which can take up to 24 hours – you can then respond simply by replying to their email.
The Best Way to Get a Decent Answer from Uber
You should make your initial request very short and very simple. Uber customer service reps are so swamped with emails, with each rep answering hundreds a day. They simply don’t have time to read and comprehend anything more than a few sentences long.
When writing regarding your application status, state your name and email address you signed up with and tell them you’ve applied to be a driver and you want to know the status of your application.
There is a chance they will answer back with a pre-written response that won’t address your situation. Write them back again telling and politely let them know they didn’t answer your question, and then re-state it. Don’t be rude and don’t add anything more to your original question. Simply restate your original question.
You may have to go through this process two or three times before somebody gives you a real answer.
What An Uber Background Check Can and Can’t Do
Background checks only allow a company to learn if a person has been convicted of a crime in the past. There are two significant parts to that statement.
They can’t tell you for sure that a person has never committed a crime. A person could have committed crimes and never gotten caught or perhaps gotten caught but was never convicted. In those cases, even the most thorough background checks will not pick anything up.
Background checks can’t predict whether or not a person will commit a crime in the future. You might have a person who has never been caught or convicted of a crime in the past but who is now actively considering committing a crime.
Why Background Checks Don’t Always Catch Everything
One major reason is that background screenings are regulated primarily by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA does not allow employers to look at arrest records older than seven years.
The FCRA allows employers to search criminal convictions more than seven years old but some states don’t. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines which state that employers should not go farther back than the standards of business warrant.
This has pushed companies how far in the past they check in order to stay out of trouble with various governmental entities.
It has become an accepted standard for most companies, including Uber, to put into place a seven-year limit.
Counties and municipalities aren’t required to report every court action to their respective states and states aren’t required to report everything to the federal government. So, there is no single source of information for criminal background checks. Companies like Checkr end up checking places the applicant has informed them that they have lived.
To do a complete and thorough background check, a company would have to employ people to go into county and municipal courthouses and search through records, some of which aren’t computerized yet.
It might now make more sense why some people do slip through:
Uber drivers are required to pass a criminal background check in order to be eligible for employment with the ride-hailing transportation service, but drivers with serious criminal histories have slipped through the cracks, and some cities where Uber operates want answers.
In response to a rash of sexual assaults committed by Californian Uber drivers, California enacted a new law that took effect on January 1, 2017, that specifically exempts rideshare companies from the seven-year background check limit.
This law will also exempt rideshare companies from another new Californian law took effect on January 1, 2018, that further restricts companies’ abilities to do thorough background checks on job applicants.
Background checks are one of the most important methods Uber uses to ensure rider safety. However, there is only so much this process can do. No matter how thorough, no background check can pick up on people who have committed crimes in the past and not been convicted. And no background check can predict the future behavior of first-time criminals. Background checks are heavily regulated, and there is only so much a firm or agency is allowed to see.
As a potential driver, if your background check is taking too long, contact Checkr, the company that Uber uses to carry out their background checks, and Uber. As long as you have a clean driving record and a lack of a criminal record, you should be able to pass Uber’s background check.
As a passenger, Uber’s background check means that you can be certain that your driver has no criminal record and hasn’t committed any driving violations, but it isn’t foolproof. But what in life is?
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