Ever since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been hearing from drivers about background checks. Specifically, background checks that are taking too long to be processed – or not being processed at all.
Update July 2020: Some drivers are being deactivated by Lyft for seemingly no reason. While we can’t identify why exactly Lyft drivers are being deactivated seemingly randomly (Lyft says it is not a result of the pandemic), we have figured out the background check issues below.
Why is it taking so long to process Uber and Lyft background checks? Below, we look into the background check process, what’s happening right now, and what drivers are saying about it.
- Drivers’ background checks are taking longer to process because of COVID shutdowns
- Prepare for your background check process early – it looks like Lyft will still let you drive for a period of time while they initiate the background check, whereas Uber will lock you out immediately
- Monitor your Checkr portal for progress
- If you feel you’ve been unfairly deactivated, reach out to Francis Mailman Soumilas
- Consider signing up for another gig company in the meantime
- Check out: How to Make Money Fast: 100+ Legit Ideas for more ways to earn money quickly
Background Check Process with Uber and Lyft
Uber and Lyft’s background checks are similar and straightforward. It’s one of the reasons why getting started with rideshare driving is so easy: in general, it only takes a few days for you to be approved and on the road.
According to Uber’s Help Section, here’s what a background check includes:
- Motor Vehicle Report review
- Criminal background check
The evaluation of background checks vary from city to city, and depend on local laws as well as Uber’s internal safety standards.
You can be denied because of major driving violations, some criminal convictions, or pending charges of criminal offenses, unless and until the charges are resolved in your favor.
“Background checks are performed by Checkr, Inc., a third-party background check provider that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners.”
After Checkr completes your background check, it undergoes a review by Uber. Once these two reviews are complete, you are notified of the decision via email.
Lyft background check process is similar, and includes:
- Criminal background checks by Checkr, Inc.
- You may be denied based on convictions for violent crimes, sexual offenses, terrorism, and more (read more here).
The results of the background check are also reviewed by Lyft and are ‘assessed against applicable regulations and Lyft’s internal safety criteria.’
Background Checks During COVID
The problem drivers are running into right now is, according to Uber and Lyft, the fault of county courthouses that are shut down or operating at limited capacity.
In order for Checkr to review criminal background checks, they need information from county courthouses – but many of those courthouses are closed for social distancing and to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Uber has acknowledged this is a problem:
“The safety and well-being of our users is one of our top priorities. We are actively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Many local governments have closed to encourage social distancing and reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Background checks involve verifying information with county courthouses, some of which may have been impacted by this temporary closure. As a result, some reports and activations may be delayed or not be able to be completed by our background check provider until courthouses are able to resume normal business.
We don’t know how long these closures will last, but we want to assure you that we’re working closely with our background check providers to complete your report as soon as possible. There’s no action you need to take at this time. You’ll receive an email when this process is complete.”
Lyft has also issued a statement about DMV closures and their impact on processing background checks:
“1. How are background checks affected by COVID-19?
Some background checks may be delayed due to court and DMV closures caused by COVID-19. If your background check is affected by these closures, you may be unable to go online or receive ride requests until your background check is completed. You can check the status of your background check by logging in to the Checkr applicant portal.
We will continue to conduct continuous criminal monitoring and driving record monitoring of active drivers.”
Due to these delays, Lyft acknowledges that background checks can now take several weeks to complete. Their recommendation is to check into the Checkr applicant portal for the status of your application.
Drivers Aren’t Having Their Background Checks Processed
Unfortunately, none of this is going over very well for drivers who are stuck waiting for their background checks to process.
According to reader Victor, his timeline for the background check process with Lyft went as follows:
- May 18 – notified his background check was delayed
- May 25 – allowed to drive this whole time until May 25, when he was officially locked out of the app
- June 4 – no new update from Lyft after providing them with more details and screenshots for support
Victor kept in contact with Lyft (which we highly recommend), provided them screenshots and more details, and still has not heard back almost three weeks after he was first notified his background check was delayed.
Since Lyft is not doing live support, the only way Victor has been able to keep in touch with them is through email, which is slow and frustrating.
Victor received this notification from Lyft on May 18 – here, Lyft says they can’t provide an estimate on when the background check will be completed.
Reader J. reached out with similar information, this time from both Lyft and Uber:
- Lyft reached out to J. in April about a delayed background check, and locked him out of the app in May (May 19 email from Lyft)
- Uber reached out to J. on May 22 and immediately locked him out from driving while the application was processing
Upon learning about this, I decided to check out my own apps to see if I was due for a background check. I haven’t been driving for several months now, but always like it as an option.
My Lyft app had a message for me saying that I was due for a background check, so I clicked on it and accepted that they proceed with the background process.
Immediately after, I was able to switch it to driving mode and do my thing. I didn’t want to drive, but wanted to check to make sure I still could. Immediately I got 3 requests coming through back to back as I was frantically trying to turn it back off.
I did this on June 4, so it’s definitely too soon to tell if I will get cut off or how long that background check will take, but as far as I can see right now, I am still able to drive if I choose to.
New Driver Background Checks May Be Delayed
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, your Uber or Lyft driver application process may be delayed. Currently, Uber is accepting new drivers, but be aware of the potential for delay in processing your application.
An article dated March 18, 2020 states that Lyft has stopped accepting new drivers in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and “other regions” due to the pandemic.
It’s very likely and possible that both companies are limiting if not preventing new drivers from being on-boarded at this time. We’ve heard from a lot of drivers that they are not driving because there are not enough people who need rides.
On the other hand, drivers who are sticking with it are often reporting that they are keeping busy if they drive at certain times of the day or night and in certain markets.
I believe that with restaurants and other venues opening up again, there will be more demand. With more demand, both companies *should* be getting back on track as far as background checks go and as far as hiring on new drivers.
What You Can Do if Your Background Check Isn’t Being Processed
One of the biggest things you can do is be proactive about your annual background check.
If you’re an active driver undergoing a background check, chances are you will see a faster processing time than a driver coming back from not driving for a while.
If you’re a driver who wants to return to rideshare but hasn’t driven in several months, log on and initiate your background check, then consider signing up for another gig company while your background check processes.
- Reach out to Uber and Lyft and stay in contact with them
- Realize it might take more time and try to have patience
- If you feel you’ve been unfairly deactivated, reach out to Francis Mailman Soumilas
- Sign up for other services (like Via, if offered in your state)
- Sign up for food delivery services (like DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart, etc.)
- Pursue another Plan B – become a notary public, start a blog about your rideshare driving experiences, or try another one of these money-making hustles!
- File for unemployment while the CARES Act is in effect until you’re approved to drive
It’s definitely frustrating if you’re wanting/needing to drive right now but can’t because of a delayed background check.
Do your due diligence in keeping in touch with Uber or Lyft and the background check company. It’s likely out of anyone’s control at the moment, but as long as you do your part, you’ll at least have hope that something is happening.
In the meantime, try to have patience and look for something else you can be doing. There are other services that seem to be working properly for those new to their apps.
Use this time to dig deep into yourself and find out where your passion lies. If you can turn it into a way of making money, now might be your best chance to make it happen.
Readers, have you recently undergone the background check process for Uber or Lyft? How long did it take for you?
-Paula @ RSG