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10 Uber Scams You Need to Watch Out For

Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have made getting around as easy as, literally, a click of a button. But, with its convenience comes unforeseen scams.

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uber app

Faking an app glitch

Some riders have reported a driver announcing midway through the trip that their app has gone offline, which means they need to receive payment in cash. After paying the driver, riders find their credit card on file has also been charged, meaning they have paid double, notes Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate for personal finance website, finder.com. “A driver should never ask you to pay cash if you are traveling on a non-cash ride. Let them know you will not pay outside of the app, terminate the ride, and then report them if they insist or make you feel uncomfortable.”

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Insisting you’ve selected cash

In this scam, a driver will notify the rider on arrival at their destination that they (the rider) have selected a cash payment. The rider thinks they must have done so in error and pays the driver cash, only to be charged a cancellation fee due to the driver canceling just before arrival. “Choosing a cash payment has to be done manually, and your method can be checked. Always refuse to pay cash if this is not the method you have selected, and report the driver to the ride share company,” says McDermott.

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uber cat
Richard Vogel/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Airport rides from non-Uber drivers

At some airports like JFK, Harry Campbell, a ride-sharing expert, founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, and Uber driver, says many customers report random drivers trying to pick up riders who are waiting for their Uber and asking them to cancel the ride and just pay cash. “If you encounter this, it’s most likely that you’re not in an Uber and you should always prearrange the trips via the app,” he says. You’ll want to check out these money-saving Uber tricks.

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Drivers scamming for cancellation fees

If a rider tries to cancel a ride more than two minutes after requesting a ride, they are typically charged a cancellation fee. Some drivers will intentionally not drive towards the passenger in order to frustrate them and make them cancel, making the rider look at fault. “If you think this is happening, just send a note to Uber through the help tab of the passenger app. You can always request a refund of your cancellation fee from the trip tab on the menu and explain what happened,” says Campbell.

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Jeff Chiu/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Asking you to pay tolls

Nope. “Any tolls incurred during a trip will be automatically charged by Uber to the rider and then paid back to the driver. Some drivers may try to scam you for tolls but others just may not know how the tolls process works as Uber doesn’t provide much training to drivers for these situations,” Campbell says. Remember that while en route, there are no additional charges or out-of-pocket expenses, ever. If your driver requests cash, simply don’t pay.

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Bait-and-switch scams

In this one, a ride share is summoned, the driver accepts, then cancels, and a driver shows up, in a different car, saying he’s not the same driver (but after you are en route). It is likely that the driver was the original, but in a different vehicle and he or she ultimately charges cash as much as twice the fee, explains Robert Siciliano, a security analyst with Hotspot Shield. “Prior to disembarking, always confirm the fee and confirm the destination. If there is a discrepancy, simply cancel immediately and summon another driver.”

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The trip doesn’t end when you get out of the car

In response to any additional charges, go into the app, and report your concerns to the company to flush out any potentially fraudulent charges. Take a look at 68 travel secrets that guarantee a stress-free trip.

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Lukas Coch/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Charging a fake “cleaning fee”

Be wary that if you’re with a loud big group, you are a good candidate for an extra “cleaning fee” that can be added after your ride ends. “Some unethical drivers aren’t shy about communicating vandalization if they didn’t like their client,” says Natasha Rachel Smith, Consumer Affairs Expert at TopCashback.com. “A $35 ride can turn into a $150 one, thanks to the added fee. If you feel like the driver isn’t happy with your party, and you’re wary the situation could generate into added fees, take pictures of the inside of the vehicle before you leave. This way you can challenge the fee immediately.”

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Uber upgrade

Let’s say you order an UberX for you and three friends. The car shows up and it’s a perfect fit. However, the next morning you receive a notification that your ride was upgraded to an UberXL, which almost doubles your fare. This feature was added by Uber to prevent big parties who ordered a compact car to avoid paying the higher fare from getting away with it. “If this unfairly happens to you, challenge the upgrade and explain the situation to the company,” advises Smith.

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Patrick Semansky/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Re-requesting the Uber ride

Before you re-request a ride due to a malfunction on the app, as a driver may claim, ask to view their app and check your own app, because re-requesting a ride bumps the fare by 35 percent due to surge pricing. “This is a little trick some drivers try to get a higher fare. Don’t comply with their friendly demand until you are sure there was an error in the system,” says Smith. Learn about other online scams to be aware of—and how to avoid them.