Have you ever been unfairly deactivated by Uber or Lyft because of errors in your background check? If so, you know it can take days if not weeks to get the situation resolved – if it ever gets resolved! What if you could hire a lawyer to handle it all for you – and get paid for back wages? You can with Larry Smith of SmithMarco, P.C. Below, Larry explains how it all works in an interview with Harry.
Watch the interview here: How Background Checks Work For Gig Workers & Uber Drivers
- RSG168: Fighting Unfair Deactivations with LegalRideshare
Background Check Issues: A Common Reason Drivers Get Deactivated
Harry Campbell: Larry Smith is a consumer attorney handling matters involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act, fair debt collection practices and more. He’s the managing partner at Smith Marco PC, which he established in 2005 and over the past five years his firm has worked with an ever-growing number of Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers helping them resolve legal matters related to their background checks, so he’s pretty much the perfect person to have on this podcast.
Today we’re chatting with Larry Smith, the founder at Smith Marco, a law firm that specializes in consumer issues like the fair credit reporting act and, you know, really all too often, I think it can feel like a David versus Goliath situation when it comes to drivers and the gig company overlords that they work for. These companies are really built for speed. And a lot of times that works to a majority of drivers benefits. You get onboarded quickly and you can start making money in cash out your pay instantly. And in an ideal scenario you might sign up and give your first ride in less than a day. And that is pretty amazing for those that need money and access to a job and work in the gig economy.
I think that there are a lot of positives to the gig economy, but I also hear from the drivers who are having issues. And one thing that I think has been on my radar for, I will say since day one, seven years ago, when I first started this business, the blog and the podcast are unfair deactivations.
Larry Smith and his firm specializes in background checks and specifically helping drivers fight false background checks. So it is, you know, a smaller niche of these unfair deactivations, but what’s really cool about Larry and his firm is that boy, they can really help out a driver.
Best of all, you know, it’s not going to cost them anything, literally $0. So that’s, what’s really cool about the service that Larry’s firm offers. And I was actually so excited to hear about what Larry did.
Most often when it comes to gig workers, Uber and Lyft drivers in terms of the errors on the background checks, the background reports. And so he’ll talk about the three things that he often sees go wrong, and then he’ll also talk about the types of folks that he works with.
He sees a majority of folks that are basically brand new to the platforms and having errors with the background checks, but also some returners. And what are the differences there, how COVID has impacted this whole process. And then also what the process is like to actually go and work with Larry, which I think you’ll see by the end of it, if you are a driver or gig work or know someone who you know, is kind of in the unfortunate situation of having to deal with this, you do have a lot of recourse and you have a lot of options and it’s not going to cost you a dime.
Larry Smith of SmithMarco, P.C.
Harry Campbell: Larry Smith is an attorney handling matters involving the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Electronic Funds Transfer Act, as well as state consumer fraud and UDAP matters for over 18 years. He’s the managing partner at Smith Marco PC, which he established in 2005.
Over the past five years, his firm has worked with an ever-growing number of Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers helping them resolve legal matters related to their background checks.
Larry Smith: Our tagline is protecting consumer rights and that’s what we do. We’re the people that protect consumer.
Harry Campbell: I listed off a number of items that you guys helped, but to be honest, I don’t even know what the electronic funds transfer act is. I think I’ve heard of fair debt collection, credit reporting act, and obviously, the background check issue, which we’ll talk about specifically when it comes to Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers, but maybe give us a high level about Smith Marco PC. What does the firm that you founded in 2005 specialize in, what are you guys known for and what also, what do you enjoy working on the most?
Larry Smith: To, yeah, well, this, to be honest with you, we’re affirmed that we do mostly consumer rights, all consumer rights, but most of it is focused in the credit reporting and background reporting and big data fields. That’s what we like to focus on. So when we’re dealing with big data companies and reporting false information or not maintaining privacy, those are the big areas of focus, accuracy and privacy, the things that people care about and concern themselves with when it comes to these data companies, housing, a ton of information about us, that’s what it is. We love the credit report stuff.
And we really love this background report stuff. There’s nothing more rewarding than, you know, when you get somebody that comes to you with a I’m out of work, they turned me off. There’s somebody else out there with my name, that’s done these terrible things. I didn’t do it. I can’t get to work. What do we do? I’m losing money. I’m bleeding here. There’s nothing better than taking that case on cause you know exactly what happened and how to fix it.
Harry Campbell: Yeah, I imagine too that a lot of times, you know, it can feel like running into a brick wall. You know, I’m very familiar with Uber and Lyft’s customer service, but many big companies let’s be fair, are not known for excelling at customer service. And frankly, I think the more complex the issues can get the more challenging they can be to resolve. So I sort of imagined that it’s a really, I like a lot of the consumer sort of facing, you know, areas of the law or something where you’re sort of butting your head up against the wall, trying to get this credit report or something resolved. No one will talk to you. You can’t get anyone on the phone and then boom, you sorta go from that to having a lawyer on your side. It’s kind of like a total 180. So I just think that’s kind of a cool option and that’s kind of really why I wanted to have you on and, you know, learn more about what you guys do.
Larry Smith: Thanks. It is, it is kind of a niche niche thing. I mean, there’s not a lot of lawyers that do it and you know, every year we have these conventions where we get together and I sort of get fit us all in a room, but you could fit all the lawyers that handle the fair credit reporting act in one room pretty easily. So there’s not a lot of us out there and I like that as well. And I like having this unique, this unique you know, things that we do for people.
What Does SmithMarco, P.C. Do for Drivers Who’ve Been Unfairly Deactivated?
Harry Campbell: Yeah. Well, I actually, you know, I’ll be honest, I’m curious about a lot of the services you offer, but in the interest of time, I think we’re going to focus on the work that you’ve been doing around background checks and gig workers and Uber and Lyft drivers.
And maybe just, I mean, I can sort of briefly set the scene and you can feel free to add onto it, but you know, in order for folks. So for those who don’t know, in order to sign up to drive with Uber and Lyft, one of the requirements is that you pass a background check, right. And I believe Uber actually runs them through checker for example.
I think they also look at your driving report. I don’t actually know all the details, but I know that in kind of the ideal situation, these things can move very quickly. It’s really, you know, not an issue. It seems like more when these issues do arise, it’s like either really smooth sailing or completely the opposite. There’s nothing in between. Do you have anything else to add on sort of the high level of how background checks are involved in the process of getting gig workers on these platforms?
Larry Smith: Yeah. I mean, first of all, like you said, you can’t, you can’t open up the app with right. And not just, not just, not just Uber, I think Lyft is using Checkr, not all of them. Now I’ve recently seen five different ones are using Checkr. All the companies are using Checkr. It seems there used to be a company called first advantage background. And then they’ve been around and HireRight has been around. Those are a couple of the other big ones, but Checkr has been doing them.
And what we’re really seeing is it’s, it’s not so much Checkr getting a report and giving it to Uber and say, or Lyft and saying, here’s what we got. It’s more Checkr doing the whole thing, making the decision, like they’re already told by Uber and Lyft here’s who we’re hiring without these people don’t even, you know, just black them just call them a rejection.
So actually Checkr will be the one that makes the employment decision when it comes to the background check or decides whether you pass the background check or not. Yeah. So it’ll go through them. And when Checkr says it’s okay, then Uber finds out and your app gets turned on.
Harry Campbell: So it sounds like Checkr is sort of playing a dual role where they’re actually running your background check and sort of, you know, doing that piece, checking, you know, checking the things that they need to check, but then also making some sort of semi quasi employment decision too,
Larry Smith: Yeah, certainly the employer’s the one telling Checkr what the parameters are, but Checkr, the one that’s ultimately, I mean, they’re just skipping the step. They’re just saying, Hey, if you, if you find it, you tell the person you give them the report so they could look at it, you handle the dispute. So Checkr kind of takes it and takes it off from there. And then they also, as you, as you probably know, it’s not just to get higher, they’re checking you every year or even every couple of months now.
Harry Campbell: So is that a legal requirement that varies by the state? Because I feel like when I know I signed up for, to drive for Uber and Lyft seven years ago, which was basically the wild wild west and they definitely were not checking. I think they did an initial check, but after that, I don’t remember too many checks. And now, you know, I just went out and gave a few rides for the first time since the pandemic hit. And I definitely had to run a background check. And it seems like you said, the frequency has vastly increased. What have you seen in your experience?
Larry Smith: I’ve seen one person that was getting checked like four times a year for some reason. It’s just so it was so random. It was so random. And then other people it’s it’s once a year. But I think the reason why they’re stepping up is because as you said, it was the wild west and it’s not a legal requirement for them to do a background check.
It’s just smart legally because there are notice that some drivers have done bad things. And so now they have to know that that’s a predator, you know, there’s predators out there that will use, unfortunately use this great service to be predators.
So they, they kind of have to do this further, the safety of people, the safety of the customers and their own legal to watch their own butts because now they know there are dangerous people out there, but then there comes the requirements, legal requirements when they do so there’s no room for, but to do a background check. But when you do, there are all these regulations that they have to follow and we tend to catch them on that.
Harry Campbell: Got it. Yeah. I mean, I feel like you know, it’s, it’s been a while since I reviewed the California public utilities commission application to apply for a TNC, which is a transportation network company, which is what Uber and Lyft for. But I, I want to say at one point there may have actually been a requirement that you had to do yearly background checks. I don’t know if it’s still in there. And I think that’s is, is, is this typically a state-by-state issue? These background checks, they kind of vary state by state, like other things like insurance and, you know, you know how some of these fields can be really complex just because every single state is different.
Larry Smith: I think a lot of these companies are doing it based upon what their risk, their risk people are telling them. I think that’s what it is. The more risk that there is, the more chance they’re going to do a background check. And those states can enact these laws.
It’s really peculiar because the fair credit reporting act preempts any state law. And it says, Hey, states, you can create laws that we’ve already created this law. Now, if you want to afford some other protections that we haven’t already done with this fair credit reporting act, you may try. So states have come out and said things like, well, you can’t do a background check if the person’s making less than X amount of dollars a year, or if you do a background check, we’re going to say that you can’t report a conviction over this many years. If the job doesn’t pay this much money. So there are parameters a state can put in there.
Three Reasons for Gig Workers to Work with Larry Smith
Harry Campbell: So let’s talk about your work. It sounds like primarily you’re helping out Uber and Lyft drivers. I know that there are a lot of gig workers out there, but who, who are the types of folks in the gig economy coming to you and why?
Larry Smith: They’re the drivers and they’re coming, they’re coming for three reasons. There are three primary kinds of cases. We see Uber, Lyft and Doordash and Postmates and Uber Eats, all of them. I mean, we’ve, and we have handled somebody in each of those.
The average driver out there, they just want the app. So there are three different kinds of things. We see. Number one is the pure merged file. The pure, we got the wrong person. This person has the same name as somebody else. And that information is showing up in the report and it’s just an outline, throwing them out. It’s a terrible thing.
The second kind of thing we see a lot of is not having an updated file. Maybe the person did get convicted, but it was expunged or it was sealed or you know, something like that. So just not having an update to know that that person was, you know, whatever it was is now gone. So they looked at an old wreck.
And then the third thing we see a lot of is just pure misreading, a record, like just here’s the record and the computer’s just not reading it. Right. It just grabs the wrong words and puts it on. And I saw two really interesting stories.
I saw once with a woman who had this just amazing impeccable driving record, she was a CDL. She did hazmat, she did everything. She never had a problem. She decided she was done driving trucks and wanted to drive. And not even people, she just wanted to drive and deliver food. She didn’t renew her hazmat, just said I’m done. And the way it read was needs to renew, it is expired. And they’re like, but that’s not what it was.
Another one I saw was a person that was being tried for a crime. I can’t recall what it was, but he was found not guilty. Okay. Yeah. You found like you went, right? Yeah. It showed up on the report. Is it guilty? How did that happen? I pulled the public record myself and there was this mistake, the way it was typed up, it said guilty. Then it said not guilty.
Then under that, if that, that he’s, you know, removed and relieved of all of his, you know, pretrial requirement. No, he’s off of parole. He’s off of, like, it just said no fine, but all it saw was the guilty thing on top and just stopped right there. So that’s another way we see problems. There’s just plain old misreading the record and putting it on the report, the wrong way. Each one of these things causes the app to get shut off. Yeah.
The Background Check Resolution Process
Harry Campbell: Most of these drivers coming to you? Are they brand new drivers? Right? Cause like we said, you have to run a background check to get onto the platform. And then a lot of jurisdictions are now doing annual or even, you know, for up to four times a year. It sounds like. So what, what, what, what’s the breakdown? Is it about half and half?
Larry Smith: I would say a good 75% of the new people, a good 75% are new applicants that are for the first time going in and having this. But there is, I’d say another 25%. They have a good little chunk of people that have been in the job for a few years. And that’s when it happened.
Harry Campbell: Good chunk of people, because I’ve got some questions there, but let’s start with the people that are brand new to the platform. I imagine, you know, like the truck driver example you shared, you know, that’s pretty common story. A lot of people quit truck driving and then decide to stay a little more local and drive some Uber and Lyft.
So if in that scenario, you know, they are basically one of the three reasons wrong name, not having the updated file misreading of their background report and you know, Uber and Lyft say, you’re they reject you. They say that you can’t drive for us. I mean, what, what do they do? Because normally I feel like I get a lot of questions from these drivers.
They go and hire a lawyer, what do they do? What’s your advice for them in that state?
Larry Smith: First things first. So the law says and Uber and Checkr, they all know this, that when the report comes out, that has bad information on it when this report comes out. But you can’t just besides just turning the person’s app off, they have to actually give you a copy of the report.
So you’re going to get an email with here’s the report. Here’s what it is. And you have, it’ll also say on that email, what your rights are under the fair credit reporting act. Now just really quick aside, I know I said the fair credit reporting act, just trust me. This stuff is covered by the fair credit reporting act. The law is misnamed. Background reports are covered. So they will tell you what your rights are under this law. We can have more on that. If you want to can talk about that. I think we’re all right.
You know what your rights are. And it’s essentially to go ahead and dispute it and tell them, so you’ll immediately while you’re on that, you know, you could do it right there on the screen. You just tell them you’re wrong. This is not what it is. This would be with Checkr. Yeah. You would do Checkr, Checkr and Checkr. So Checkr will get the information. And if there’s anything else you could give that if you have the record, if it’s a sealed or expunged record and you have the order sealing or expungement, get it over to them. You know, if it’s something like that, get it over to them, whatever they have, they get by law.
They have 30 days to conduct an investigation and report back the results to you. And then if they make a change, they won’t just tell you they’re making a change. They’ll tell Uber or Lyft, Hey, we’ve corrected this person’s report. They’re eligible a year. And then to get noticed, you’re getting notified.
It’s if they won’t correct it, you’re going to need me. But even if you’re losing that time, even for that 30 days or two weeks or one week or however long, it is that they’re investigating that you’re losing, you’re losing money. And there is a reason why they’re, they’re doing it wrong. There’s a reason why they’re doing it wrong. And they’re not, they’re not utilizing all reasonable procedures they should when they’re making these reports.
So that’s why I say, if you get turned off for a false background report, I, I know you don’t want to hear call a lawyer first, call them on your first, but yes, go right ahead and dispute it. But you have rights and you shouldn’t give up on those right away.
Harry Campbell: Right. Well, and I think you put it in a good way, right? If you’ve got 30 days or if they have 30 days to sort of look into this matter, that could be 30 more days than you have. I mean, you might need to make money right now today as a worker.
And so I imagine that you know, for folks who experienced an issue with their background check, I think one big mistake, or maybe, you know, I wouldn’t know if I would call it a mistake, but one thing that I see people doing is, you know, they typically reach out to Uber and Lyft and it seems like, you know, we’ve kind of mentioned this a few times. It seems like Uber and Lyft really aren’t the right people to reach out to, if there are issues with a background check, it seems like a lot of the, you know, sort of responsibility or, you know, if things are going to get fixed, it seems like Checkr is the one that’s going to fix this.
What Can Go Wrong with Background Checks for Uber, Lyft and Other Companies?
Larry Smith: Yeah. I mean, this is my it’s kind of like my, my, one of the things I see every day in my work is that a lot of times something bad happens and the knee-jerk reaction is to get really excited and uptight and nervous and just, just knee-jerk everything. And it’s, it’s just not typical for a person to stop and read everything before them. You know, you don’t want to calm down and sit and read everything in front of you, you know, but you do. I mean, you just have to just stop and just before you just start going, I’m calling my employer right away. Yeah. I just, I wish people would just stop and look at what the back, tell that it says right there.
Harry Campbell: I will say it’s, it does seem like a somewhat reasonable product. I mean, like I kind of joke that in the ideal scenario, you can get onboarded as an Uber driver in hours. Right? All this stuff can happen really quickly. It’s when things sort of hit the fan, that there are issues you met, you highlighted a few of the things that can go wrong. And so I think that, you know, even though if it is happening to you in the moment, right, and you’re deactivated, right.
For a false background report, you know, you’re going to be pretty mad. But at the same time, you know, I mean the process seems reasonable. You know, they have that. You need to give them some time to investigate it and you know, kind of look into it and hopefully they fix their error.
Larry Smith: Yeah. And I’ll tell you this if it is a wrong person case, a mixed file, what we call file because they’re mixing your file with somebody else. They fix those really fast. Yeah.
Harry Campbell: I mean, let’s be honest. There’s probably a lot of Larry Smith’s out there. Right.
Larry Smith: I went to college with one and he was so much more famous than me, you know? And so I would, my phone would ring off the hook because I started basketball player in my school was named Larry Smith. So getting confused with somebody is something not alien to me. I get it. But I’ll tell you, they, I find it funny that they correct that one really fast because I mean, that’s usually the one thing that has the person, the driver gets that one and goes, I mean, attempted murder. How did you put this on my report? Oh my God. And then, but they fixed that one overnight. Oh yeah. That was. And you just kind of sit and go, well, hold on a second. If you were able to figure out overnight that this was not that person, why couldn’t you figure that out overnight when you were making the report in the first place?
I mean, you got this information that said, this person matches to an attempted murderer, not a second. Look at the name before we just did. Where did that happen? You know, this person lives in this state, the murder happened in that state. Wait a second. Do you have anything else that matches this person is living in that state for an imprint? I mean, there’s a lot of stuff, gender, you know, when you get arrested, you don’t carry your social security card, right?
Yeah. So they don’t match you with social security cards. So people say, well, how the, they had my social, well, they don’t have your social when you’re getting arrested. You know? And people get fake names all the time. Right. But fingerprints, gender, that stuff is on a rap sheet. Yeah. That stuff is in the record.
I had a guy get denied a job a few weeks ago. It wasn’t rideshare. It was, it was something in a, in a different area, a warehouse, but he got denied a job because of, of a mismatched name. The guys were a different gender. Yeah. The bad guy was a white bag in the guy applying for a job was an African-American guy.
And he’s like, it’s not, could even look at the pictures and the mugshot on line pretty easily too. So the mistakes that are being made in my mind are, are pretty amazing. And that’s why I say, you know, just call a lawyer because they’re just making these grave errors. It’s costing them money.
Behind the Scenes of a Background Check Dispute
Harry Campbell: Well so let’s put myself in the shoes of someone who just applied for a job, driving with Uber or Lyft, not to pick on one company or the other, and I’m rejected. And I see that there’s some error on my background check what my next steps, how do you work with drivers in that situation?
Larry Smith: So if they’re calling me, you know, I’ll obviously I will make sure they’re disputed and if they’re not a walk them through it and I’ll help them make sure that they do it the right way on their own, you would help them out. They’re going to have to communicate directly with Checkr. It’s going to work right on their computer screen or right in your phone because that’s how they communicated with you.
So I’m going to make sure that you did that and I’m going to walk you through it. I’m going to advise you to keep looking for work. If you need other work, but then I’m also gonna begin preparing a lawsuit against that background reporting company for falsifying your information. I mean, I’m obviously I’m, we’re going to investigate and make sure we know what they did wrong. I’m not just going to run the house with the lawsuit. But like I said, we, there are these three kinds of mayors and we just really recognize them and understand how they work and are able to put a case together pretty easily. Yeah.
Harry Campbell: Well, and so, you know, I know that obviously, lawyers are not traditionally, you know, the cheapest folks to hire. And so, I mean, I imagine that, you know, there are certain cases, right. That are, you know, like, I guess I wouldn’t say more valuable to you, but I mean, you know, if it’s a one day delay, I don’t know, can I afford to hire a lawyer for something like that? What’s like your ideal case where it kind of benefits you the most maybe benefits the driver gets the most value out of it. And you know, like what are, what are they going after? Like lost wages to me? I mean, I guess, you know, I don’t know if you just assume everyone’s a full-time or part-time, but that can vary too. Right? How does it all work?
Larry Smith: Well, here’s how it works. First of all, the best thing about this law is that it provides for the recovery of any actual damages that you suffered, plus attorney’s fees and costs. Got it. I don’t care how big your cases.
I don’t care if you have a day or if you’re off a week or if you’re off two months by the hour, according to the law and I will, I will bill by the hour, I will keep my bill and they will have to pay, I have to negotiate it with them or a judge decide it, but that gets worked out. And then what we will do is we will sit and figure it out. What did you lose? How, you know, what did you expect to earn? What do people in that area earn? What are the Uber puts that out there? And Lyft put that out there and your ads. So you could earn this much money in years. Yeah.
Harry Campbell: And they tend to err on the high side, which, you know, hopefully that helps you in these cases, but
Larry Smith: That’s how you, that’s what you could expect to make. Right? So we use that too. And we just try to figure out what our client’s damages are. And depending again, on the case, there are those cases that, you know, if you’re mistaken for a sexual creditor and it’s very embarrassing, there’s a premium, right. Got it. Cover. But again whatever you lose, wherever your losses are, you’re entitled to.
Harry Campbell: So typically it’s lost wages make up the bulk of the recovery.
Larry Smith: Sometimes, sometimes it does. But there’s been times where somebody was off of work for all of three, four days. And so they didn’t a lot of money, but what it was that was on the report was just really, you know, wow, you hadn’t been mistaken for, you know, I, I went home that night. I didn’t sleep either, you know, gross.
And that could, again by itself, a little premium, it’s just one of those things that we look at it as a case-by-case basis. And we also have a nice history now to go back on, we’ve handled enough of these. We, you know, we know the different kinds of losses. And so we’re, you know, we can figure out what those, if we can’t get a calculation to the dealer, we can get a nice number for that person. And again, our fees are what they are, you know, how much time we have to put into it, they’ll pay us. I don’t, I don’t care if it’s how big or small it is.
Harry Campbell: No, I, I actually, you know, I’ll be honest. I didn’t even realize that your fees were covered by the, I guess, Checkr in this case. Right. Because, you know, and that’s sort of why one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on is because I think there are a lot of these areas of consumer law that are actually very consumer-friendly. Right.
You know, I think personal injury is a good example. You know, there’s a lot of competition in this space for Uber and Lyft drivers. But if you do end up getting into an accident and find a good personal injury lawyer, man, they can really help you get the best doctors, you know you know, the best care, the best, you know, recovery.
And I think that sometimes, you know, I think personal injury, you know, tends to have a bit more of a negative connotation in certain lights. Right. But if you can find the right people, you can really help yourself as a driver and gig worker. And I think it’s cool just to, you know, I guess maybe it’s a little of that David versus Goliath.
I don’t know what a Checkr is valued at, but I’m gonna look it up right now. And I’m assuming it’s in the many, many billions, right. And here you are. So Uber and Lyft driver making, you know, 10, 20, 30 bucks an hour, right? 2.2 billion now.
Larry Smith: Close, hit the nail on the head. That’s like one of my favorite things about what I do and kind of like really, to be honest with you, when I set out to be a lawyer, way, way back when thinking about what it is that I want to do, I’ve always felt like I wanted to help the person. I always wanted to help the person, the individual who has a problem. And I liked to help them get up a hill. You know, if they’re facing a mountain in front of them, I want to show them, Hey, I can get you up that mountain. It’s real easy. Come on. Yeah. And, and, and I like to take on those big companies. And I like to say that every major bank, every credit reporting agency, all the major background companies, we’ve gone to battle with them all just fine. Yeah.
Uber, Lyft and Checkr
Harry Campbell: I think I’m going to I’ve got a couple more questions for you, but I feel like this could be a, an inspiring moment for anyone that’s had an issue. So I’m just going to direct them to your website right now, protecting consumer rights.com. And I think you can fill out a form there, is that the best way to get ahold of you? Cool. Well, I just, I just feel like if I was, if I’m watching or listening and in this situation, it’s like, I’m stopping what I’m doing. It’s like, all right, Harry, Larry, shut up. I need to go fill this out, get this guy to help me. Because it is a, a pretty cool service you offer.
So I guess I didn’t realize too that it’s really Checkr. I mean, again, I’m, I’m kind, kinda picking on Checkr a little bit. But how does Checkr feel about this whole process and like, what’s your relationship with checker or even Uber and Lyft? I mean, are they, are they kind of even, are Uber and Lyft really involved in this situation or more you and checker and the driver?
Larry Smith: No, we really haven’t gone after them. And the truth is, you know, it’s, there are, there are requirements that the employers must adhere to when it comes to this. And sometimes they skimp on them a little bit. But this person wants to work for that employer. So we don’t want to initiate litigation against the person’s employer. That’s just not a good way to start off.
You’re right. We’re trying to, you know, Hey, only if you’re never going to work for those people and they did something really wrong that caused you to loss of the job and, and damages will we do something, but it’s, it’s these background companies and how do they feel about it? I don’t know. They’re not changing the way they do things necessarily.
So obviously they think that it’s just the cost of doing business. It seems because they’re still matching the same way. They’ve always matched. Yeah. You know, they’ve, they’ve always used the same kinds of algorithms and matching criteria and it doesn’t seem to change. So
Harry Campbell: I actually, you know, I think that’s one thing that many big companies are guilty of, you know, Checkr, but even, you know, I’ve kind of criticized Uber and Lyft a lot in the past because I do think that they look at drivers as numbers on a spreadsheet. Right.
They understand that, Hey, we’ve got 1 million drivers if 0.01% of them have issues with their background checks and that’s going to cost us, you know, XYZ dollars to resolve, but we can replace that 0.01% of drivers for less than that’s what they do. And I think, I feel like it’s a very you know, like transactional way to think about it.
And I think it really doesn’t encompass the feelings, you know, the emails that you’ve gotten and that I’ve gotten really why I wanted to have you on is because I just checked before you came on this interview and I’ve gotten one of average, one email per day from a driver, who’s got, had an issue with a background check and I think I forwarded them all to you, by the way, I see you probably have at least 70 emails from me in the past seven days and you know, drivers, Hey, I’ve been, you know, I really need a job or I’ve been working for Uber for three years. I have 15,000 rides and 4.9, five-star rated driver, boom deactivated because of a false background check.
COVID’s Impact on Gig Work
What have you, well, you mentioned mass, what have you seen during COVID because has that changed and you know, more, more issues, less issues. What have you seen?
Larry Smith: During COVID? We saw so few cases. I mean, there was, you know, way, way, way, way down. So we didn’t see a lot at all. I didn’t, I, you know, yeah. You forward me some emails and I do recall, you know, those people or two that were getting to activated, cause there was a complaint over not wearing the mask. That’s, that’s unfortunate that really, because I don’t know that that really falls into the protections of the fair credit reporting. The only really a background report that has information that’s false, that’s being used deactivate. Hmm.
Harry Campbell: So most of the, well, I guess all of the cases you have to take sort of have to fall under this background report issue. You know, one other thing I wanted to touch on before we sign off here, you know, we talked about the brand new folks to the platforms and also the ones who have been driving for a little bit and get subjected.
I call it subjected to an annual background check. Well, what are the, some of the differences you’ve seen there? I guess one thing that stands out to me, it seems like you would have them. I don’t know if more solid, but you know, if I’ve been working for Uber for a year and now it activated, right. Because of a false background, that seems like a much bigger issue than if I’m not even working for them yet. Right.
Drivers’ Responses to Deactivation
Larry Smith: They’re they’re far angry and they put it in my own a hundred percent, the people that call me that had been working there for a year or two years and have passed background check. And then those, those they’re just, they’re exasperated. They’re angry. I mean, you get the other people are like, just like, Hey, this is just, wow, why is this long? And you’re like, okay. You know, let me take that back. Never
Harry Campbell: Actually worked for them. Right. So it’s sort of,
Larry Smith: They’re not sometimes when people have never been through a background check before, so they were just like, Hey, this is, wow, what happened here? You know? But then you’re, then you get the people that have been through it and then they come back a year later and they get it. And they’re just like, just, you know, like, yeah, how did this happen? How, how, how come? And they just, they want me to answer, how did I pass the first time? Yeah.
Harry Campbell: That’s funny. You mentioned, I literally have gotten many questions. I’ve gotten many questions from drivers. Like how did they not catch this the first time?
Larry Smith: I don’t know how they didn’t catch it. I don’t know how you got bomb. I don’t know why. I just know why this happened. Now. I can just tell you why the bad report happened this time.
Harry Campbell: I don’t know why. So is there any difference in the cases for those folks that have, I mean, I think they’re definitely angrier, but do they have a better case or more potential damages or what have you seen for those that have been, you know, already on the platform,
Larry Smith: As far as, I mean, damages or damages, you know, what your harm is your harm. So whatever your time is, your time is. And however, the calculation is, it is it’s just that it’s an aspect of liability, you know, like you’re you, you’re going to prove that Checkr did something negligently and that’s just another fun way of playing with it, right. It’s like, well, what did you do the first time that you didn’t do the second time, but where did you the second time? Why did these come out differently?
One answer could be the person who did commit the crime, committed it within that past year. Yeah. You know, that could be it. True story. Again, it wasn’t a rideshare, but I did once have a guy. I mean, this was brilliant. He’s at the interview and the background check comes in after the interview and they say, sorry, you know, this background check and the crime that was re he was being rejected for supposedly he’s still in jail for, okay.
So they run a report that says, yeah, this person committed this crime. And he’s currently serving three years in this prison. He’s like, no, I’m not even looking at it. And just kind of say, well, wait, we’re giving a background report about some, so it’s, it’s just more, just a level of the negligence, the level of how bad they were. That just, it just makes my case, I guess, easier to prove, but that’s not going to change my client’s recovery, not going to change what we get. It’s, that’s all about what the value of their case is based upon their loss. Gotcha.
Harry Campbell: Well, I think it’s a, really a unique and cool and valuable service that you’re offering to Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers. So really appreciate you doing what you do coming on the podcast. And folks are interested in your services or want to learn more just maybe give us a quick summary again of who should reach out to you.
Reach out to Larry Smith
Larry Smith: Anybody that has a background check with false information on it. Got it. And that you’re being cut off from work. You should reach out to us at our website is protectingconsumerrights.com. We’re called Smith Marco. You can get SmithMarco.com. You can call our number (888) 822-1777. You’ll reach us.
You obviously see, I’m very passionate about it. When I start talking about the stories you’re getting really riled up because that’s what I sit and do I sit and listen to people’s stories and then get ready to fight. Cool. I really appreciate the chance to be like an outlet for me today.
Harry Campbell: I appreciate you coming on. And you know, I kind of selfishly I always mentioned that, you know, it’s good for me to find great resources for drivers and gig workers out there because then when they come to me with their problems and I can’t do much a lot about them, I can send them your way and we can sort of tag team it. So I’ll leave links in the show notes and the phone number and all that. If folks want to reach out and learn a little bit more and otherwise really appreciate Larry take care.
Takeaways for Drivers
Thanks to Larry Smith for coming on the podcast and talking all about background report errors. I kind of joked in the intro that this is a smaller segment of the unfair deactivations that drivers deal with on a daily basis. But I think it’s really important to segment. And also it’s one of the segments where you really do have a lot of recourse.
I legitimately did not realize I probably should have done a little bit of research for this interview, but I didn’t realize that Larry’s services were actually basically, you know, covered by the person, the company, you know, that they’re making claiming NCO in this case, it might be Checkr, which, you know, I think really like, like you said, it opens up a lot of possibilities that, you know, whether you have one day of lost wages or one month he probably gets paid, you know, maybe not about, you know, maybe not the exact same if there’s more work, but you know, maybe about the same ballpark, right?
So there isn’t necessarily a minimum or a maximum, which sometimes you see with this, right. Obviously, frankly, if the case isn’t big enough, you know, not everyone’s going to be able to take that. So I think that’s really beneficial to the consumer and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to highlight his services.
And if you are in this position and you want to get some help, you can definitely reach out to Larry and I’ll give that website one more time protecting consumer rights.com and get what you need. So if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, definitely don’t hesitate to reach out. I really enjoyed doing this episode with Larry and his services are available to drivers across the country. So it doesn’t matter what state you live in, they should be able to help out.
And as a business owner, you need to diversify your income sources. You need to plan or a worst case scenario. You need to plan for things going wrong. And so I think that’s really, when it comes down to, you know, Hey, we can complain about you know, Uber and Lyft doing that or issues with background reports and folks like Larry are there to help. But at the end of the day, no one cares more about your business and your money than you do. So it definitely pays to have multiple services at your disposal to keep your documents, you know, assume that you’re going to get deactivated for a background, you know, a false background report. And while you’re chatting with Larry about getting you back on there, you’ve got other options to work for that are ready, you know, Lyft and maybe even a delivery service. You know, I think in an ideal scenario, if you’re a Uber or Lyft driver, you’ve got Uber Lyft and maybe one delivery service as a backup. So that’s my advice. That is my rant for the day. And hopefully you enjoyed this episode. Thank you for joining me on today’s ride and we’ll chat again. Next time!