Uber Responds to Carjackings with Rider Verification

With violent carjackings on the rise, Uber has stepped up to make a change on their rider verification in an effort to keep drivers safer. The real question is: Will it be enough?

The main focus at the moment is riders who use forms of payment such as gift cards, prepaid cards and payment platforms like Venmo to catch a ride on the Uber app.

Quick summary:

  • Uber announces new rider verification process for passengers who use prepaid cards, gift cards, or Venmo
  • Meant to ‘deter those who want to cause harm’ – drivers say more could be done to protect them
  • Don’t feel safe rideshare driving? Sign up for a food delivery service instead, like Instacart

Uber Announces New Rider Verification Procedures

Uber announced on April 9, 2021:

“Starting today, we’re strengthening our rider verification process and putting more safeguards in place to validate the identity of riders who use these types of payments. This new feature requires riders who try to set-up a new account with a prepaid card, gift cards or Venmo to upload a valid ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. The ID then undergoes a series of validity checks. These additional verification requirements can act as a deterrent to those who are trying to use the app to cause harm.”

The reasoning behind focusing on passengers using only these methods of payment is because, according to Uber’s announcement, “We know from law enforcement and other experts that anonymous payment methods are more often linked to malicious actions or fraud which can put drivers at risk.”

Uber also emphasized they have been using fraud detection and account verification in the past when these types of payments have been used, but not to this extent. Their blog post stated, “For example, over the past several years we’ve used a feature called Social Connect globally which verifies riders using anonymous forms of payment through their social media accounts.”

What Are Drivers Saying About This News?

We posted the news on our Facebook page and received responses from drivers.

One person responded:

“It’s a step in the right direction. But at the same time. As a doorman that works a large concert venue (2400 capacity) in pre covid times, what’s to stop someone from uploading a fake ID? It’s still anonymity at its best when Uber is just looking to have a picture and information about someone. If the info is bogus then it doesn’t matter what steps they take….. the only way to combat the identity issue is to have riders upload an ID Zane to actually verify that information against RMV records before giving them access to the platform.

Anything less is just sugar coating the issue to make it look good for whoever wants to listen.”

Others stated, “Make riders have names on their accounts match their id. No more ‘T’ or ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’. Automatic cancel….”

I wholeheartedly agree. How are we supposed to trust who we are picking up when they use names like “trashcan” or “Z” or anything else they think up? Half of the time the people with these weird names can’t verify who they are if we ask for the name on their account because they don’t remember what hairbrained nonsense they came up with.

Another said, “How about riders only using THEIR OWN account rather than someone’s friend getting them a ride, because the actual rider has been banned from rideshare 🤷‍♂️ Would be easy to prompt users for a selfie like they do to drivers.”

This is another good point. Who out there has ordered an Uber for a friend? I’m sure many on the platform have done that, even though they aren’t on the trip. I’ve gotten texts before while I’m on my way to a passenger stating as much: “You’ll be picking up my daughter. Text me when you get there and I’ll let her know you’ve arrived.”

On the other side of the coin, one person commented positively toward the idea.

One said, “This is phenomenal! About time that we can ‘trust’ an identity. 20k+ rides over 6 years, I’ve really have been waiting for this!”

Riders appear to be having issues with this…and it might be because they don’t know what’s going on. A few riders have taken to Reddit to complain about not being able to load their Uber Wallet with cash or use prepaid cards.

It doesn’t look like there is any explanation on the app telling these riders why they might not be able to use these payment methods at the moment.

My Thoughts as a Female Rideshare Driver

Oh boy, where do I begin? It’s not enough, but it’s a start. It’s showing Uber is somewhat willing to move in the right direction. While fraud is more likely to happen when riders are using these payment methods, nothing else seems to deter them from attacking drivers.

We see drivers with dash cams getting attacked, so not even having their full face on camera is stopping people from attacking drivers. Though I do think it helps deter crime…let’s face it, nothing is perfect.

But only verifying riders who are using cash or prepaid cards for payments? What about the others? Like the drivers on our Facebook page pointed out….riders can still put random names instead of their own on their accounts. They can order rides for other people.

We still have no idea who is getting into our vehicle. Even vigilant drivers who check their passenger’s names before allowing them to get into the vehicle are likely to slip up now and again. Is it right for their lives to be at risk because they forgot to ask the passenger to verify their name instead of simply stating, “Are you Paula” when picking them up?

There needs to be some kind of verification system that works for all riders on the platform to better protect drivers. Like I said, this is a start, but more needs to be done.

Drivers, what do you think of this announcement from Uber? Is it enough for you?

-Paula @ RSG