How the Uber “Say My Name” Scam Works, and How To Avoid It
The rise of rideshare services has made it easy for people to get around or make money. Uber and Lyft are popular rideshare apps, with Uber holding almost 70 percent of the U.S. market. But the rideshare boom has also brought trouble for riders and drivers. If you’re a new Uber driver, you need to watch out for the “say my name” scam.
Rideshare apps connect strangers. If you’re the passenger, you’re to take a ride in a car driven by someone you’ve never met. All you know about them is in their profile in the app. For the driver, you’re to let a stranger in your car and sometimes take them to a location you’ve never been to before. Therefore, both the rider and driver may have safety concerns. Unfortunately, efforts to address the safety of rideshare parties has opened a loophole that's mostly costing drivers.
The rise of the WhatsMyName movement
The “say my name” scam is based on the “WhatsMyName” movement, which was in response to the murder of Samantha Josephson in 2019. Josephson entered a stranger’s car thinking it was the Uber taxi she had requested a while earlier. That mistake ended tragically—she was later found murdered.
Josephson’s incident sparked the “WhatsMyName” movement. The goal was to get rideshare drivers to correctly identify their customers by name to prove that they’re picking up the right person. The customer can then rest easy knowing that they’re in the right car, and the driver can be held responsible if something goes wrong. Uber maintains a profile of its drivers, including their name, car model, and license plate number. The customer can view the driver details in the app.
What’s the “say my name” scam, and how does it work?
This fraud costs drivers time and money. It involves impersonation and deception. Uber drivers have limited information about the passengers they transport. While the rider can view many of the driver’s details, all the driver has about passengers is their name.
When someone requests a ride, the driver rushes to their location to pick them up. You may get to the location and it takes a few minutes before the customer shows up. In those minutes, someone walks up to you and pretends to be the customer with the goal of getting a free ride.
They ask you the name of the customer you’re waiting for. If you’re not aware of the “Say my name” scam, you check the app and tell him the name—Dave, maybe. He responds, “yes, that’s me.” You proceed to confirm the destination, but the passenger tells you to stop at some place along the way so they can get something from a friend waiting there. You get to that spot and the passenger gets out but never comes back. Meanwhile, the genuine customer requests another taxi. You lose.
How to avoid the Uber “say my name” scam
Customers should identify themselves to drivers first. Insist on that and you’ll steer clear of the “say my name” scam. The customer already knows much about the driver because of the profile in the app. Therefore, it should be easy for the customer to know if they’re taking a ride from the right driver.