26 March 2020

The Most Common Passenger Scams Used On Uber Drivers

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 24 seconds. Contains 1283 words

Driving for ride-hailing applications such as Uber may open you up to more passengers, and allow you to earn some extra money. However, it is also leaving you much more vulnerable to scams pulled by passengers and con-artists. Here is a list of the most common scams, and what you can do to avoid them.

Scam 1: Phone calls from Uber

How the scam works: You’ve just accepted a request from a passenger and are on your way to pick them up. Whilst you’re on your way, you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be Uber. From there, they will then ask you to cancel the ride, and claim that you will still be paid. The caller may also claim the passenger has a disability, and needs an accommodation your taxi cannot provide as a reason for the cancellation.

After cancellation, the caller will then ask for your email address, password, and eventually the confirmation code. Once done, the scammer will change the driver’s settings, and take out all the money earned by the end of the week.

How to avoid this scam: It’s important to remember that a ride-hailing service will never call you personally to cancel a ride, and will also never ask you to reveal any account information. After requesting a ride, a scammer will be able to see your name and phone number, and will use that to pose as Uber.

Scam 2: The fake prize

How the scam works: Similar to the last scam, after accepting a ride request from a passenger, you receive a phone call or text from someone claiming to be from Uber Support. They’ll tell you how you’ve just won a prize for numerous reasons, such as a 4.9 star rating or never cancelling a ride. After that, they’ll ask you for your account details, such as your email address, password and verification code.

How to avoid this scam: Uber have confirmed they do not hold competitions such as this. Uber will also generally contact users by email rather than direct phone calls, and will never ask drivers for their account information.

Scam 3: Cancelling Mid-Ride

How the scam works: You’ve just picked up your passenger and are on your way. Whilst on the way, the passenger cancels the journey. If the driver is unfortunate enough not to notice, they’ll only find out once the passenger has left and they can’t end the journey. The scammer has just had a free ride, and the driver has earned nothing.

How to avoid this scam: Make sure your phone isn’t on silent/vibrate mode, that way, the app will make a noise to notify you that the passenger has cancelled the journey. If this happens, pull over at a safe spot and tell your passenger to leave, as you are no longer getting paid.

Scam 4: Taking someone else’s ride

How the scam works: Someone enters your vehicle and asks you to say their name. You say the name of the passenger listed on the app, and they say it’s them. However, you later find out that you picked up the wrong passenger, and now the scammer has had a free ride.

How to avoid this scam: Keep your doors locked before picking up a passenger. Instead of mentioning their name when someone approaches your vehicle, ask them to reveal their name instead.

Scam 5: Asking to be dropped off at a different location

How the scam works: Your passenger asks you to drop them off at a McDonald’s 4 miles away, but during the journey, they request to instead be dropped off at the Burger King across the road. You decide to agree to this, because at the end of the day you’re still getting paid. However, once you’ve dropped the passenger off, you realise you didn’t get paid, as the passenger reported that you got lost on the way, and they decided to leave the taxi early.

How to avoid this scam: There’s usually no harm in allowing the passenger to be dropped off at a location that’s on the way to the intended destination. However, it’s best to ask them to personally change the location.

Additionally, installing an internal camera will ensure that any incident is recorded, and can be used to send to Uber if necessary. Click here to see a list of recommended dash-cams.

Scam 6: Additional passengers

How the scam works: The passenger requests a vehicle, usually an UberX, which only allows for the driver and 4 passengers at one time. The passenger may try and slip in one extra person, hoping the driver won’t care, or won’t put up a fight and just let them be.

How to avoid this scam: Be firm. If someone tries to slip in an extra passenger, make sure they understand that you will not be moving until someone exits the vehicle.

Scam 7: Surges

How the scam works: Everybody who uses Uber knows that during a surge, prices will be a lot higher than usual. On occasions, you may encounter passengers who try to avoid this by requesting a ride somewhere outside the surge area, and then calling you once you accept, to tell you they’re actually somewhere else.

How to avoid this scam: Cancel the ride and report it to Uber. People don’t request a ride from a location far away from where they actually are by accident.

Scam 8: False Claims

How the scam works: You’ve finished your journey and all seems well. However, later you’ve been told by Uber that they’re investigating you, as someone claims that you were falling asleep whilst driving, or that your vehicle was unclean.

How to avoid this scam: Internal cameras will be your best friend in this situation, since they can be used to fight against these kinds of claims. Additionally, take regular pictures of your vehicle in a clean condition. This way, you can have photographic proof should someone try to claim your cab is dirty.

Scam 9: Cash For A Tip

How the scam works: The rider will ask the driver if they could give them a certain amount of money in tips on the app, in exchange for the driver giving half that back in cash. The rider then leaves the vehicle without ever intending to tip the driver on the app.

How to avoid this scam: If you’re going to exchange money, make sure it’s all in cash. However, be very careful when exchanging physical cash in an Uber vehicle. The user may decide to complain to Uber that you falsely charged them for the journey through cash.

Scam 10: The Extra Distance

How the scam works: The driver takes the user to their intended destination, only for the passenger to request they get dropped off just a mile further down the road. They may offer cash as an incentive to get you to carry on, but it’ll be far lower than what they would’ve paid had they requested the full journey on the app.

How to avoid this scam: Drop the passenger off at the destination marked on the app. If they refuse to leave the vehicle, do not hesitate to call the police.

Scam 11: The Wrong Destination

How the scam works: The rider may have started their journey in Runcorn, asking to be dropped off at Liverpool Lime Street station. However, when you arrive at the destination, they will claim there was some mistake and they were actually meant to be dropped off at the Liverpool South Parkway. They will then request you take them the extra distance, claiming they had no idea of the “mistake”.

How to avoid this scam: Similar to above, drop the passenger off at the destination marked on the app, and do not hesitate to call the police.


Uber Self Driving Volvo at Harrison at 4th” by Dllu, used under CC BY-SA 4.0 / Modified from original

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