Data Trail

Deborah Leonard and her team driver boyfriend Randy Daignault were surprised to discover what they felt was a misleading report on their DAC record.

The contents of your DAC Services report are at least as important as what’s on your credit report. And, as with a credit report, you can go for years without knowing whether the content is accurate unless you take time to check the report – or get a surprise rejection due to a falsehood or misunderstanding.

Many drivers learn that lesson the hard way when they get turned down for a job because of statements made to DAC, which serves more than 85 percent of the nation’s large fleets.

After spending weeks with his truck in the shop, company team drivers Randy Daignault and his girlfriend Deborah Leonard decided to leave their carrier because they were getting few miles. The next time they saw their DAC reports, the previous carrier had reported that they quit under a load and under dispatch.

“How can you quit under a load when you don’t have a truck?” Daignault asks. He contacted DAC about having the information removed and offered proof of the time his truck was out of commission. The former carrier “had a high turnover rate, and we had been told that they don’t like any team to quit. We were told that [the company] will put false information on your DAC. To cover ourselves, we got a copy of the repair bill to prove the time of the truck being in the shop.”

DAC’s response, Daignault recalls, was: “We are a database. We do not verify.” The only option he was given was to fill out a rebuttal form, which he did.

Daignault isn’t the only one who sees the rebuttal option as inadequate.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says, “The frustration that you experience in talking to the drivers is that the means that are provided to rebut the information aren’t sufficient. They believe, as do we, that there should be an effort on DAC’s part to verify the accuracy of the information, and that generally doesn’t happen. Their system is not set up for that.”

DAC doesn’t dispute that it is essentially a large database, collecting information on truckers’ motor vehicle records, criminal records, drug tests, credit reports and employment histories. Such straightforward information has great value, and the system does have some safeguards, says spokesman Derek Hinton of DAC.

“A DAC report is much more objective than a phone call,” he says. “On the employment history section, companies get loads hauled, dates of services and a work performance category.”

To its credit, DAC screens information that’s patently contradictory or obviously suspicious. For example, it strikes statements such as: “Joe quit, so I fired him.” “We have cut companies off before because they have sent in a batch of reports and they were all the same and we didn’t think that could be accurate,” says Hinton.

Experienced fleet executives, too, can occasionally spot potential flaws. Ed Kentner at National Carriers says he’s aware of fleets that use DAC reports for spite. “I could name two or three companies right now that when we see them, we discount them,” he says.

Furthermore, some carriers are not part of the DAC network. “Companies cannot just call DAC and say, ‘Tell me what you got,'” Hinton says. “They have to be a member, and they have to sign an agreement to abide by the law, by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”

Transportation law attorney Jim Klepper says that under the FCRA, when a driver challenges a statement, DAC has 30 days to ask the company to verify it. If the carrier doesn’t, the statement must be removed.

“Drivers can contact DAC and ask to see the written proof of verification, to be sure that the proper procedures are being followed,” Klepper says.

Kentner says he goes through thousands of DAC reports each month to check on driving history, credit reports and criminal backgrounds, but sees very few rebuttals. “When it’s not refuted, I have to assume it’s true,” he says. “But on the other hand, many of the drivers may not know that they can protest what’s on their DAC.”

If a driver contradicts something on his file, Kentner says he doesn’t automatically assume either side is right or wrong. He calls the company and tries to get an independent verification, perhaps from someone in a different department. Sometimes, he says, he has to use his intuition, but when it’s a matter of a serious safety violation, “the benefit of the doubt does not go to the driver. It can’t. You must err on the side of safety.”

As comprehensive as DAC is, there are many in the industry – truckers and fleets – who are not affected.

“I’ve had no problems at all,” says LaRue Mitchell, a driver of eight years who drives team with her husband Michael, “and I’ve switched companies four times. We wouldn’t have been able to get on with the company we’re with now if there was a bad report.”

Jerry Reese, who owns Reese’s Delivery Services, a small fleet in Statesville, N.C., doesn’t use DAC. “I know of so many problems [of] drivers getting charged with stuff that they really weren’t guilty of and they had to go back and fight DAC,” he says. “I’ve been trucking for 30 years, and I think it should be the way it always was -going through the DMV. That’s what we pay our taxes for.”


HOW TO PROTECT YOUR DAC RECORD

If you want to challenge something in your DAC Services record, you can do so in writing, and DAC will ask the carrier to verify information it provided. Even when the company stands by its information, any carrier that obtains your file will also receive your version of why the information is wrong.

To see a copy of your DAC file or to add a rebuttal to your file, call (800) 381-0645 or write:
DAC Services
Consumer Dept.
P.O. Box 33181
Tulsa, Okla. 74153
Getting a copy of your file costs $8, preferably payable by money order. For further information, call DAC or visit www.dacservices.com.

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