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Uber X Finds Gaps In Criminal Background Checks

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Brian New
Brian joined the CBS 11 News team in 2013 after working a...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - When ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft and UberX, rolled into Dallas late last year, one of the biggest questions was how can riders be assured the driver is not a convicted criminal.

UberX conducted criminal background checks on all of its drivers before allowing them to participate in the UberX service, but now the technology car service company says its background checks may not have been enough.

Uber is in the process of re-screening all of its Dallas UberX drivers with an expanded background check after the company said it discovered the multi-state database it used to check the criminal records of its drivers was missing conviction records.

Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported an UberX driver in Chicago had been convicted of a felony, an offense Uber said that was not been picked up by its background check process.

On its website, Uber posted, “We immediately deactivated the driver.”

The company said it discovered the multi-state criminal database it was using may not include all federal criminal records and was missing many county records.

Mike Coffey, president of the Fort Worth-based background screening company Imperative Information Group, said the mistake Uber made is a common mistake by employers.

“They really bought a car radio and called it a car,” he explained. “They bought one component of a background check – really just a starting component of a good criminal background check.”

Coffey said a comprehensive background check will include checks of county, state, and federal records.

While Texas law requires all counties to report its convictions to the Texas Department of Public Safety, it doesn’t always happen.

According to a 2013 state report, the dispositions of nearly 20% of adult arrests made in 2011 had not been reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety by 2013. Some cases may still be tied up in the courts and therefore do not show as disposed in the report, but Coffey said others will never make it.

“We ran everyone on death row through the DPS records and they were missing a third on those on death row'” Coffey said.

Uber Dallas’ General Manager Leandre Johns told CBS 11 News due to privacy concerns he cannot say how many unknown convictions Uber has discovered.

Johns did say if any are discovered Uber will “immediately handle the situation.”

On its website, Uber announced it’s expanding its UberX driver screening process to include county, state, and federal background checks on all drivers.

In a blog on its website Uber wrote, “safety of riders and drivers is of paramount importance at uber, closely followed by transparency and accountability.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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