Terrifying Uber Scams

Terrifying Uber Scams

New services like Uber and Lyft were supposed to help Americans. The goal was to create competition in the taxi industry and make accessibility to ride services in critical areas — and it certainly didn’t hurt if a few people made some money along the way.
But goals are not always reality…
Now, it’s looking as if this entire experiment might be more of a failure than any of us could ever have anticipated. As usual, it’s a shame for those who are honest people just trying to make a living or get a ride somewhere. In fact, what we have to tell you next just might scare you away from ever taking another Uber or Lyft ride again…
It’s a crazy world out there, folks. This info can help you stay safe.

Key Points

  • We’ve been suspicious about how “loose and free” Uber’s regulations seem for a while now, but those suspicions really came to a head after reading this news article from WESH2. It details a recent case in which Uber driver, Jackie Gordon Wilson, picked up a passenger at their home.
  • After transporting them to the airport, where they were flying out the same day, Wilson drove back to the passenger’s house. He then broke in, ransacked it, and stole a long list of items from the homeowner — which begs the question of whether this could happen to someone else.
  • We looked into Uber’s qualification system to try and identify just how much effort the company puts into screening drivers. What we found was scary….not only are drivers screened without checking fingerprints, but Uber’s TOS also essentially absolves them of responsibility if your driver harms you.
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  • In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be an issue. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and Uber scams are becoming far more common these days. There have been cases where drivers working under the system (meaning they are approved by the company) have intentionally committed crimes while working.
  • For example, in one common scam, drivers pick up people who book non-cash rides (paid for via credit or debit card prior to the ride). They then inform the unsuspecting passenger that the payment did not go through, demanding cash at their destination. Many pay the cash and walk away without even thinking about whether it’s true.
  • Independent drivers (who aren’t approved under Uber’s system) have also been actively stealing fares from common pickup locations (like hospitals and airports). These individuals don’t work for Uber, but pretend they do by pasting the company’s signature sign in their windshield. Often, they’ll argue with you and try to convince you to cancel your original ride, claiming there was a mixup over who was supposed to pick you up. Don’t fall for it.
  • Although it’s far rarer by comparison, Uber drivers have also physically and financially harmed passengers in the past. For example, this driver robbed someone with the help of a translator app. In this instance, a pair of men masqueraded as Uber drivers to aid them in the attempted robbery of a man they picked up outside a restaurant. He was forced to jump out of the vehicle.
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  • Feeling unsafe? It’s no secret that Uber remains way too unregulated with few protections for passengers, but there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe. When you book a ride, check the driver’s info, including his or her photo. Be sure that’s the vehicle you get in when your ride arrives. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking the driver for their name.
  • Get picked up at a public location or even a short distance down the road instead of at home. Or, have someone pick you up at your neighbor’s house (someone who IS home) if you’re traveling. If nothing else, it will throw a criminal off and leave them unable to know when your house is empty.
  • ALWAYS call Uber and book your ride directly (or at least use the app). Don’t flag drivers down on the road or  say yes to random pickups. There’s absolutely no way to determine if they really are who they say they are or if they’ll even charge you an honest rate. Your life is not worth the few minutes shaved off of your day you’ll save.
  • When children or other vulnerable loved ones use Uber, use Uber’s tracking so you can see exactly where they are. Using the most up to date version of the Uber app, set up your Family Profile. Then, when someone on that profile is taking a ride using Uber, you’ll be notified. The Trip Tracker feature will give you the details of exactly where they are.
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