Loopholes in Uber background checks

RTA strike's impact on local Uber drivers (WDTN Photo)

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – An Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting a UMass student lied about his identity to get the job.

The man accused of sexually assaulting a UMass student is being held without bail after his most recent arrest Monday night in Holyoke. 18 year-old Samuel Texidor is accused of offering the student a free Uber ride home last month, and then attacking her. Texidor used a fake ID to meet age Uber’s age requirement.

It has UMass Amherst student Samantha Browne, who uses Uber on weekends, reconsidering how often she uses the service. “I thought that they did background checks, so I thought all the people would be trustworthy.”

Texidor is one of several people across the country who’s lied about his identity to Uber. Last month, the district attorneys in both Los Angeles and San Francisco said Uber failed to find the criminal records of 25 drivers they employed in the cities.

Taxis typically use a 3rd party background check service called Live Scan, which takes drivers’ fingerprints. Fingerprints can verify driving records and criminal histories, as well as sex offender and terrorist watch lists. Uber, however, uses a system called “Chekr,” which doesn’t require fingerprints.

“It’s pretty scary that there are actually loopholes in the system where someone can fake it that much and totally get away with it,” says UMass Amherst student Kristin Heideman, “until after something like that happens.”

A new state law signed in August adds a state background check for Uber drivers, but it doesn’t go into effect until August 2017, and it doesn’t include finger printing.

Uber argues gathering fingerprints is expensive and discriminatory to too many minorities looking for a job.

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