Rideshare Fraud: Tips to Avoid Fake Uber Drivers

by Staff Blogger | March 25th, 2024

When you need to get somewhere fast and you don’t have a vehicle or don’t want to worry about parking, it’s hard to beat the convenience and price of using a rideshare service like Uber. With a few quick taps on your smartphone, you can arrange for someone to pick you up at your doorstep within minutes and take you across town or even across the state.

However, that level of convenience comes with a price: safety. In addition to riders being at risk of injuries in crashes, riders also risk getting into rideshare vehicles with imposters.

While driving for Uber can be a good way to make money, not everyone who wants to drive for Uber can. For example, these potential Uber drivers may not have a valid license, or may have failed the Uber driver screening due to a criminal record or a history of impaired driving. People who otherwise may be ineligible to drive for Uber may commit identity fraud by using others’ identification, driving under others’ employee IDs and numbers, using others’ vehicles, or even creating fake identification.

Other ill-intentioned people may see someone waiting for an Uber and take the opportunity to impersonate that driver and encourage you to get in their vehicle before the legitimate driver arrives.

Fake Uber drivers are more common than you think, and they can put riders’ safety in jeopardy. Whether you’re a daily Uber user or a sporadic rider, here are a few tips you can follow to reduce your risks of being picked up by a fake driver.

Verify the Driver and Vehicle

Before getting into an Uber, take a moment to verify a few things:

  • Check the App Details: Before entering the vehicle, ensure the driver’s name, photo, and car details (make, model, and color) match what’s displayed in your Uber app. Uber provides this information for your safety, and any discrepancies should be a red flag.
  • Match the License Plate: Always compare the license plate number with the one shown in your app. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure you’re getting into the right car.
  • Wait for the Driver to Confirm Your Name: A legitimate Uber driver will know your name and use it to confirm the ride. Instead of asking, “Are you [driver’s name]?” let them ask, “Are you [your name]?” This prevents a fraudster from simply agreeing with whatever name you suggest.

Protect Yourself via Location and Pickup Timing

Where and when you’re picked up can make a difference in your safety. Keep these in mind when requesting and waiting for an Uber:

  • Choose a Safe Pickup Location: Whenever possible, request your ride from a secure, well-lit area. Avoid isolated or dimly lit spots where you’re more vulnerable to opportunistic criminals.
  • Be Aware of the Timing: Pay attention to the estimated arrival time in the app. If a car shows up too early or too late without a plausible explanation or an update via the app, it could be a red flag.

Stay Informed and Alert

It’s important to always prepare for things to go wrong when you request a rideshare pickup. Preparing yourself for the unexpected includes the following steps:

  • Share Your Trip Details: Uber allows you to share your ride details with friends or family. Utilize this feature so someone you trust can track your journey in real-time, providing an additional layer of security.
  • Keep Personal Information Private: A real Uber driver doesn’t need to know your personal phone number or other private details. Conversations and any necessary communications should happen through the app to protect your privacy.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off, trust your gut. You are under no obligation to enter a vehicle if you feel uncomfortable or if there are any discrepancies. It’s better to cancel the ride and order a new one if needed.

Steps to Take if You’re Picked Up by an Imposter Uber Driver

If you believe you’ve encountered a fake Uber driver or have been a victim of rideshare fraud, take the following steps:

  • Ensure Your Safety First: If you’re still in the Uber, ask that the ride be stopped and that the driver drop you off in a safe location immediately.
  • Report the Incident to Uber: Use the app to report the incident. Uber has protocols to handle these reports and can take action to prevent future incidents.
  • Contact Law Enforcement: If you’ve been defrauded or feel threatened by the imposter driver, contact local law enforcement to report the crime.

Contact Our California Car Accident Lawyers for a Free Case Review If You’ve Been Injured in a Crash

One thing many imposter Uber drivers have in common is their lack of knowledge, experience, skills, and licensure. Many of them may not have valid California driver’s licenses, and they may not have the ability to pass a driving test to obtain one. That makes them extremely dangerous behind the wheel to themselves, to you, and to others on the road.

If you’re injured in a crash caused by a reckless, impaired, or otherwise negligent Uber driver, whether they’re an imposter or a verified driver, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your damages.  Contact the California auto accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.