How Uber and Lyft Drivers Get Scammed by Passengers

Almost every passenger you’ll pick up is trustworthy, and the way that Uber and Lyft design their apps make it hard for either passengers or drivers to pull off a scam. But some riders have figured out ways to take advantage of drivers, so I think it’s important for every driver to be aware of the most common scams out there so you can avoid them.

Youtuber munchkym recorded a great overview of the most common scams, so I recommend that you take a look at her video and read the video transcript below to see what types of scams you should watch out for.

Impersonating an Uber or Lyft employee to ask for your password

The first one is the most easy to recognize, and that’s impersonating an Uber or Lyft employee. There are a couple of variations of this. This first one is that you’ll receive a request and then as soon as you accept it you’ll get a phone call from someone claiming to be an employee. They’ll say that it’s an identity verification and they’ll ask for your Uber or Lyft password. Obviously, you should never give anyone your password and Uber and Lyft would never want to ask you for it. This is just an attempt to get into your account, take your money.

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Another variation of this is is that someone will take a ride from you and they will claim that you will not be getting paid through the app, you’ll be getting paid through some other way. I’ve heard of them giving pretty legit looking business cards and claiming that you have to give Uber this code and then they’ll pay you a bunch of extra money or something. Obviously, it’s fraud.

Two types of ride theft for passengers and drivers

There are two variations of ride theft you should know about. The first is a ‘passenger stealer’ ride. This is especially common in very metropolitan areas during the downtown rush hours. This is why you never want to ask, “Are you Kenneth?” You instead say, “What’s your name?” Or you’ll ask, “What’s the name associated with the account?” You also don’t want them to see your phone because they may look at the name and then tell you that’s their name.

Another one is a driver stealing a ride from another driver. The other driver may or may not actually be an Uber driver. What they’ll do is they’ll pick up the passenger and the passenger doesn’t actually care if they’re in the right Uber. They just tell them where they’re going, maybe give them cash. But a lot of times they’ll see a passenger waiting and then they’ll claim that there was something wrong with the app and request to be paid in cash and Venmo or requesting a ride separately.

Bringing too many passengers for the ride type

If you’re in an area that has Uber Pool or Lyft Line, sometimes people will request a ride but they will not disclose how many people they’re bringing with them. Pool and Line have a maximum of two people that you can bring with them. Any more than that, you need to request the whole car.

The other one is bringing more than they requested. For example, if they request an Uber X, which only allow five passengers and then you driving your Uber XL arrive, they’ll put in more. Or they’ll just try to squeeze additional people than there are seat belts. If you have an Uber XL, you can request that they adjust the payment and they usually will. But if you have an Uber X and you take six people in your five passenger car, it will adjust it and you could risk getting in trouble, both with the law and with the companies. If they tell you they will give you a great tip for it, never believe them. Anything someone says about a tip is a lie.

Passengers asking drivers to take a different route or go to a different destination

Sometimes a passenger will ask you to go a different direction instead of following the GPS and then that will drive up the price. At which point they will claim to the company that you did that yourself and then they’ll be reimbursed for the ride and you’ll lose out on it. They may also ask for a different drop-off location and do the same thing.

Anchoring during stops

Sometimes passengers will request stops and being a nice person, you may or may not allow them. Being the savvy driver you are, you of course tell them to keep it under three minutes if possible and they say, “Yes, of course. No problem.” But they leave their bag in the car or their dog or their baby. I’m not even kidding. I’ve had drivers tell me that. Then when they’re gone for 25 minutes, you can’t just leave. Or you can and you can just drop it off at your hub or I don’t know, fire department if it’s a baby.

Surge fraud

Sometimes a passenger will be smart enough to realize that where they’re being picked up is surgering, so they will change the pick-up location to an area that’s not surgering. They will then call up the driver and say, “Hey, I’m actually not at where the pick-up is and I don’t know how to change it. Can you pick me up at the corner of this and this?” Now they get a ride that starts where they want without paying the surge pricing. Never pick someone up at a different location than what’s in the app. Anything that you do that’s not following what the app says is a risk for you. Go to the pick-up location, wait, cancel.

Lying about the driver A.K.A. “Put your driver on blast”

There’s actually this photo that’s floating around that gives you different ways to put your driver on blast in order to get a free ride. One example is to take trash from your bag, put it on the ground, take a photo, send that to Uber or Lyft, claiming that the car is dirty and getting reimbursed. People who do any of these things are terrible, but these ones are the worst, in my opinion. You can literally be deactivated for things on that list. You could be ruining someone’s livelihood.

Canceling mid-ride

This one is increasingly common. There’s actually a video I’ll put in the description of a driver who experienced this and called the passenger out when it happened. By canceling the ride they can no longer rate them and the driver is no longer getting paid for that ride. If that happens, you should literally just let them out. Some people will do it right on the freeway, personally I would get to an exit first, but yeah, get that person out of your car. If someone cancels a ride, you are no longer protected by the apps or your insurance and you also are not getting paid, so get them out.

Now, the biggest thing that you can do to protect yourself from these kinds of scams is have a dash cam. Preferably one that faces both inward and outward. The one that I have and has a lot of great reviews is the Vantrue Pro2. It records both in and out and has good night vision.

Another thing that you can do is keep your sound on for your phone to make sure that you know is someone has canceled, especially is you use a different app for navigation.

And the last thing is don’t rely on just one program. If you drive for Uber, drive for Lyft as well so that if you get canceled on Uber then you still have Lyft as a backup, especially if you rely on it for paying your bills.

Hopefully this was helpful and now you know some ways to protect yourself. If you appreciate the things that I’m doing, you can subscribe to my Patreon account. I sometimes upload extra stuff there. I haven’t yet, but I plan to. And always feel free to email me or put things in the comments if you have a suggestion for something I should talk about of if you have a question that you need answered right away. Have a great day and drive safe.

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