If you’ve driven for any length of time, chances are you’ve had someone try to scam you at least once. Whether it’s trying to get you to drive a passenger off app (don’t do this!), make additional, out of the way stops (thereby losing you money) or something else, almost every driver has a story. Below, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares one of the most common driver scams out there and how you can protect yourself against it.
On Thursday, October 3, a Lyft driver in Minneapolis/St. Paul received a phone call. It was a California number — specifically a San Francisco, California number — so he naturally assumed it was the Lyft passenger he was on his way to pick up.
Instead the person on the other end of the call introduced themselves as a Lyft Customer Support Representative. The purpose of the phone call was that Lyft decided to give a bonus $100 to drivers with a 4.85-star rating or better.
A Legitimate Call – Or a Scam?
Sounds awesome, right? Drivers are constantly berating Lyft and Uber for not recognizing their drivers, especially their loyal ones who have been around for a while and still maintain a great rating.
The caller asked the driver to pull over to a safe place so they could talk without distraction. So, the driver pulled over. Next, he was asked to verify some of his account information.
Seemed harmless enough, so he confirmed his phone number (though in hindsight that was strange since the caller had used that number to call him), and then he was asked to confirm how much he’d earned with Lyft so far this week. To verify his account, of course. And to further verify his account, he was asked to confirm how much his current cash out amount was.
Having Sprint as his carrier and an Android phone, the driver knew he couldn’t look up this information while still on the phone and told the caller as much. So, the caller said he’d call back in a few minutes to give the driver enough time to look up this info.
When they called again, it was from a New York number instead of a California number, but it was the same caller. That was the red flag that sent this driver to hang up and report the call.
About 3 hours later, the driver received an email from Lyft:
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first (or the last) scam to affect drivers – for more scams to watch out for, take a look at this $100 tip scam here.
Scammers Are Getting Clever
The driver also received a text from Lyft later that day:
Both the email and the text said that someone had either tried logging into his account or that a suspicious phone call had been made to his account.
Soon after, the driver went to the local Lyft Hub in Minneapolis/St. Paul to report what had happened and to make sure nothing fishing was still happening with his account. He’d been kicked off of it, as outlined in the email, in order to prevent the suspicious person from accessing his info.
The representative was able to confirm that the driver was the only one accessing his account at that time and that there were other drivers in the area reporting the same issue.
What Can You Do As A Driver?
The first thing you can do is remember that Lyft and Uber will NEVER call you to ask you for account verification over the phone.
Next, report anything like this that happens to you. If you report it, it will bring it to the attention of the companies and they will be able to put more manpower into preventing it or catching the people perpetrating the crime.
Keep in mind, there’s no reason anyone, especially from customer support, should ever need to confirm how much money you’ve made that week and how much you had on hand to cash out. That screams red flag and you should hang up immediately.
It’s easy to fall into the trap. For anyone outside of California as a driver, it’s easy to assume that the person on the other end is indeed from Lyft or Uber since that’s where their headquarters are located. Plus, the promise of more money is always intriguing.
If you get a phone call like this, just hang up and go straight to your local Uber hub (or Lyft Hub here) or call the actual support line for Lyft or Uber (whoever the caller is claiming to be from) so they know what’s up. They can help make sure your account is safe and help make sure no one has access to your hard-earned money. They may also be able to prevent it from happening to another driver.
What Was the Scammer Hoping to Achieve?
If the caller had gotten all the information he needed and he felt the cash out amount was high enough, he likely would have changed the bank account or card info for where the cash out would be deposited into. Then, he would have been able to instantly transfer the driver’s earnings without the driver knowing what hit him, and likely no easy way to get it back.
You can prevent this from happening to you by following the suggestions above and by simply being cautious. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Drivers, has a scam like this or similar to this affected you? What happened?
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-Paula @ RSG