7 Scams to Avoid as an Uber Driver
The vast majority of Uber passengers you’ll encounter are honest folks who just want to get from one place to another—but every now and again you may encounter scammers, and it’s good to be ready for them. Here are just a handful of the most common scams for Uber drivers to be aware of.
This one’s pretty simple: Someone who isn’t your Uber passenger gets into the car in place of the person you were supposed to be picking up. Of course, it likely means that your actual passenger is stranded somewhere without a ride. But there’s really no reason to fall for this one—not if you are in the habit of always checking to ensure that you’ve got the right passenger, based on the Uber app. An UberX driver named Jorge posted a video describing his encounter. Watch below:
Here’s how this one tends to go: “Hey, do you drive for Uber? I lost my phone, but I do have cash, so if you drive me to ___ I’ll pay you $____.” This may seem innocent enough, but if you take a street hail you’re just asking to be conned. Avoid this!
Imagine this: You get three or four passengers in your Uber. You drop the first passenger off at the destination, but he asks if you can take his friends just a mile or two further up the road. You oblige—but as you drive away, he cancels the original ride. Avoid this by only going to the stated destination; if passengers need to go a few miles more, ask them to make the change within the app, or to request a new ride.
Not all scams stem from individuals. Some are actually run by businesses—including bars. The most common? Bars create accounts to hail Ubers, then throw their roaring-drunk passengers into your backseat. The passenger may barely be conscious, or he may be on the verge of throwing up, or what have you—but from the perspective of the bar, it’s your problem now. Be wary of this!
It might be a little bit of a stretch to call this a scam, but it can certainly be an inconvenience. Here’s how it works: In an airport run, a passenger will drop their suitcase or bag into your car to “save their place,” then go back inside to continue saying leisurely goodbyes, getting ready, etc. Needless to say, this can really eat into your time!
Surge Pricing Scams
One of the oldest tricks in the book: In an effort to get out of paying surge pricing, a passenger will request a ride from somewhere just outside the surge area—then call you, as you get closer, to let you know where they really are. This is a blatant attempt to get out of the surge charges, and you’ve every right to cancel the ride and ask them to try again.
Far-Off Destination Scams
It’s generally recommended that you confine your services to a 60-mile radius, if not an even smaller area than that—and it’s for this simple reason: Credit card frauds will usually want to go on really long trips, which at the end of the day they have no way of paying for. Keeping your rides more localized can prevent this. Note that, if such a scam happens, Uber will eat the cost and pay you, but there could be some hassle and headache involved.
How to Avoid Rideshare Scams
These are just some of the potential scams you might encounter—and sadly, there’s nothing you can do to completely prevent them. With that said, there are some general strategies you can use to keep yourself in the clear.
Here are our recommendations:
• Always make sure you have the right passenger. Double and triple check to make sure you’ve got the correct person!
• Only accept payments through the app, never cash payments. The exception here is tips.
• Read up on Uber’s rules and guidelines for drivers—many of which exist to protect you, after all.
• Make sure your passengers make all route changes in the app, so they can’t accuse you of taking an inefficient route.
More than anything else, just be vigilant. You’ll encounter some odd things, and may even want to report some fishy business to Uber—but generally speaking, if you keep your wits about you, you can avoid obvious acts of fraud or trickery.
Have you been scammed as an UBER or Lyft driver before? How did you retaliate? Share your experience in the comments below.