Are Background Checks An Effective Tool?

This morning, after a battle with Uber's background check company for weeks, I was finally able to get approval to drive for Uber. After going around and around with Checkr, the company used by Uber for background checks, the question that sticks in my mind is, How effective are these checks? Are they effective in the least?



In 2012 I moved from my temporary home in Arkansas, to the Philadelphia area. Upon moving I had to find a new home, and I chose to live in a great place in Delaware, one of my favorite places I've ever lived. The community and apartments were great, but I first had to pass a background check. This was not abnormal, I'd been through them many times for apartments, and jobs. Never before did I have an issues... until now. 

After submitting the information to my apartment complex, I was quickly denied based on crimal history. CRIMINAL HISTORY!? To this day I have never been arrested, never done drugs, I don't even like to drink. Hell, I have to this day never even had a traffic ticket... Imagine my surprise when someone said that there was a felony under my name. 

Making a call to the background checking company, I was shown first hand how innacurate these companies can be.   My name is a common one, and the short year I lived in Arkansas caused the background check company to mix me up with another person of the same name. How does something like this happen?

It seems that it was entirely based on name. Me and this other person did not share a birthdate, we were months apart on the calendar year, and he was a full year older than me. Our social security numbers were not close either. It seems that this was based completely on our names, and that is a major problem. How accurate can a positive background check be if a negative one can so easily be created by mistake? This is by no means an isolated insident.  

While on the whole I think Uber is safe, almost entirely. You may be able to find the occasional incident where an unsafe driver was in a car for uber, but most people are good and most do not commit crimes. With the problems I've had with their background checking company not being able to verify that I've been driving for more than 1 year, even though I've had a license for 15 years. With that being the case, how accurate are any of their background checks. It's a realistic question that must be asked of any background check, are they even worth the money paid for them or the effort put into one.