DAC Report: What You Need to Know
Let’s say you’ve been a driver for over a decade, having worked for a modest three companies. Sure, others have longer tenure with fewer companies, but you’ve left each of your prior employers for legitimate reasons and on good terms. Yet, you just applied to a new company with impressive pay and benefits and were told that your past employment history has disqualified you. How can that be?
Simple: a service out there called a DAC report is utilized by companies all over the country to learn more about your driving and work history than what you provide on the application. It’s beneficial to companies because it gives the good, the bad and the ugly—and lets face it, many times, we tend to downplay the second two of those items. So the DAC report is meant to be an objective reflection of your past behavior, as reported by your past employers regarding employment and drug/alcohol testing, prior criminal history and MVR information.
The issue arises when that report starts kicking back information about you that is either completely false or is listed so vaguely that the implication is negative. Much like a credit report that is designed to relay a picture of your debts and the way you handle financial responsibility yet often ends up with items on it that are false, the DAC report is subject to the same sorts of erroneous or misinformation creeping in. And in today’s economic conditions and with the new CSA2010 rules in place, most carriers can afford to be very choosy in whom they hire, and what you’ll find is higher expectations from your work history. In years past, carriers may have been lenient as to allow five or six minor hiccups; now, one can get you disqualified.
The good news is that you can easily see your DAC report for yourself to be sure the information reported is accurate and detailed enough to reflect true instances in your work history.
The DAC Report: What is on it?
Four sections comprise a DAC report: Job Employment History, Drug and Alcohol Testing, Criminal Background Check, and Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). It is primarily made up of data that has been submitted by the law enforcement agencies, motor vehicle agencies, and also by carriers you’ve worked for, provided they are subscribers to a consumer reporting agency (the largest and most well-known one is HireRight, formerly USIS).
Information on the Job Employment History portion is critical and long-lasting; this information will remain on your report for seven years. On it is each past employer and the following information: period of employment (mo/yr); driver’s experience (long haul, short haul, etc); equipment operated (HAZMAT, flatbed, etc); work description which can contain whether the job was performed in a satisfactory manner, if there were any log book violations, etc.; and arguably the most crucial information under Job Employment History: incidents and accidents.
In this section, each reporting carrier has a choice. They can report simply a total number of DOT recordable and non-DOT recordable accidents or incidents. Or they can opt to be more descriptive.
Says Victor Zimmerman, founder of DACfix.com, a company that specializes in aiding drivers in finding out what is on their report and correcting mistakes, says, “Often, these descriptions are accurate, particularly in the cases of DOT recordable accidents, which are defined by DOT as fatalities, towed vehicle from an accident, overturned vehicles, fuel spill, or accidents that require medical care off site. Contrarily, incidents are open to individual interpretation of a situation and how they’re chosen to be reported can make all the difference for a driver.”
A common discrepancy DACfix.com sees under the Job Employment History is errors in preventable vs. non-preventable accidents. While a minor accident is still going to go on a driver’s record, if it’s listed as a preventable accident when in fact it wasn’t (hit a deer, hit some black ice?) can make a huge difference on your report.
A hot button issue you should steer clear of is abandonment. There are five categories of abandonment and all of them are bad, says Zimmerman. These are unauthorized location with notice; unauthorized location without notice; company terminal without notice; abandonment; and quit under dispatch.
If you are mid-load and feel quitting is your only option, call dispatch and let them know. Have them provide you with an authorized location to bring your truck and trailer. Do not ever take your truck home. Instead, follow your company’s direction regarding where and when to bring your truck. Once there, be sure you obtain a receipt from the yard, proving you delivered the vehicle in good condition. Keep a copy of this receipt. Also provide a letter of resignation and keep a copy of that for yourself. Mid-load you will likely still have this reported unfavorably but keeping copies of these records can only help you if inaccurate information ever appears on your report.
Along with Job Employment History, there are three additional sections of a DAC report, each key to your potential hireability. Under Drug and Alcohol Testing, there are a couple key tips to keeping this section of your report blemish free (aside from the obvious, which is to avoid illegal drugs). June Wohlbach, DACfix.com Director of Case Management, says that two items DACfix.com will not dispute is failing a drug test for controlled substance or failing because the driver took a prescription drug that was not prescribed to him. “Never, ever take someone else’s prescription, no matter how harmless you think it may be. There is a reason random drug tests are random. And if you fail for taking your wife’s pain medication, there is nothing we can do to help. There isn’t anything anyone can do to help.”
Aside from those, there are some instances where marks under Drug and Alcohol are in fact inaccurate. For instance, you fail your drug screen because of an opiate in pain medication you’re taking post-knee surgery. However, the Medical Review Officer didn’t dig any further to determine a legitimate reason for failing; he/she simply reported the failure.
Or, you attend Driver Orientation, pre-employment, and are asked to take a drug test. You can opt to refuse at that time without penalty because it is pre-employment. Sometimes this shows up on a DAC report as a refusal when it should not be.
Likewise, the third and fourth sections of the DAC report can be hotbeds of inaccurate information: Criminal Background and the MVR. Cases of mistaken identities, duplicate criminal history, and moving violations all appear here and a driver should be aware of them.
Obtaining Your Report and How Can Your Correct It?
Under Federal law, every driver has the right to view his DAC report once annually and to dispute any information found on it. You can obtain a complimentary copy of your report directly from HireRight, the company that maintains DAC reports, by writing a letter and requesting a copy. There is no electronic process to make this request, no email to send to and it cannot be requested via phone. It’s a mandatory written process.
Once you receive your report and look it over, you can then write in and dispute any information as inaccurate. You should be very detailed and prepared to back up your information. HireRight will investigate with the company you are disagreeing with, and if you are found to be correct the information is adjusted. This will cost you some stamps and some time. However, here is where things can get tricky, particularly considering your DAC report is the lifeblood of your trucking career. You can only dispute an item one time. If you fail to prove your case, it’s a done deal.
For that reason, explains Wohlbach, many trucking professionals opt to enlist the aid of an outside company, like DACfix.com. Here’s how it works:
A driver suspecting a problem on his report makes a free call to DACfix.com to discuss his issue(s). Once the DACfix.com representative determines that the driver has a discrepancy they can assist with, the driver pays the DACfix.com service fee of $189. DACfix.com obtains a fresh copy of the driver’s report from HireRight and then a Driver Advocate discusses the report with the driver. The driver explains anything negative or not fully detailed on the report and the Driver Advocate compiles a detailed letter of dispute and submits that to HireRight. From there, the various entities involved in the reporting (past employers, etc.) are contacted and by law have 30 calendar days to respond. HireRight will make any corrections based on what they are shown and a new report is sent to DACfix.com. One last discussion ensues to make sure the driver understands the changes made and what the updated report now says about him as a potential hire for a new company. Simple, effective.
Even if you don’t have reason to think anything negative is on your report, you can be sure by getting your own copy. See what other companies are seeing about you. DACfix can pull this report for you for $49. If the report is spotless, you’re set. But if you spy red marks, you can upgrade to the DACfix service for $140 so it doesn’t cost any more to take it a step at a time.
“We’ve been doing this for awhile,” explains Zimmerman. “We know what to look for—not only what a driver may have called about but anything else we find on his report that is detrimental and could be corrected. We’re pleased to report an average 70 percent success rate in helping drivers remove false information or correct incomplete/inaccurate and vague data.”
Call 800-494-7517 or visit www.DACfix.com for more information.