Fake Uber scam: The #1 way to protect yourself

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If you’ve ever used a ridesharing app like Uber or Lyft, there’s a sneaky scam that could cost you a lot of money.

Read more: Uber is keeping tabs on drivers by tracking their smartphones

Phony Uber drivers are ripping people off

An undercover investigation by CBS 2 in New York showed a fake Uber driver walking around the terminal at LaGuardia Airport, the first red flag. You can’t hail an Uber at the curb like a taxi. You always have to order your ride through the app.

Once the reporter started talking to the driver, there was another cause for concern. He told her that he accepts credit cards or cash. With Uber, you never need to carry cash. Fares are charged to your payment information that’s on file.

And this isn’t an isolated incident. Uber says fake drivers make an estimated 2,300 illegal trips to LaGuardia and JFK airports on a weekly basis. So imagine how many times it could be happening across the country.

Sometimes the rides turn downright scary, with customers being told they have to pay more than they agreed to.

“People who get into the car with the illegal hustler, the price is one thing at the beginning, halfway through the price goes up,” Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi told CBS 2. “You say, ”˜I don’t have enough money.’ They say, ”˜I’m going to take you to an ATM; you have to get the rest of the money.’”

According to the report, there’s not enough airport security to enforce the rules and penalties aren’t steep enough for those who get caught.

Here’s the #1 way to protect yourself

No matter how distracted or rushed you are, you need to slow down and confirm that the license plate number displayed in your app matches the actual vehicle. Every time you order an Uber, you’ll be able to see information about the driver’s vehicle, plus their name and picture.

This warning may seem like common sense, but it’s a reminder worth sharing with family and friends to avoid getting ripped off.

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Read more: Lyft or Uber: Comparing ride-share services as a source of income

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