Category Archives: Uber

Parents Should Not Let Kids Use Uber or Lyft

Parents Should Not Let Kids Use Uber or Lyft

Before @ridesharediva alerted me to this article, I didn’t know that kids can use Uber or Lyft. If you read my previous post about how just about anyone can be behind the wheel of an uber or lyft car, you’ll know why.

http://healthland.time.com/2013/11/14/for-more-parents-its-uber-to-the-rescue/

I never condone any criminal activity, but this is really troubling. I can only fathom what can happen if one of those people impersonating an Uber or Lyft driver is driving around, hoping to get a teen or kid in their car. Its just not that safe. The driver can see that its a minor, drive a few blocks, turn off the app, lock the doors and drive off. You won’t know where they went and now the driver has your kid. Its just too much risk.

Lets go into the type of scams Uber or Lyft drivers can pull:

  • It was covered in the above post. Drivers with bad records hide behind people with good records and gets to drive on Uber. Bad news.
  • There are people who just “borrows” someone elses account. Picture may match or it may not. Have your kid confirm the driver is exactly the same as on the app!
  • There are people who just goes around and asks Uber? or Lyft? They are not drivers, just random people that just says Lyft or Uber. The younger your kid is, the more likely they’ll get dupped. They speak little english and just ask. Clueless girls every week just get into a random persons car because of that scam! Imagine your kid just getting into their car!

Parents, just dont let your kids ride in an Uber or Lyft without you. You feel safe because its gets tracked. So what if they end the ride, shut off the phone? Now your kid is in some random car. Just dont do it. Ever.

How You Can Drive on Uber or Lyft as Someone Else!

How Can Criminals be Uber or Lyft Drivers?

Uber:

Let’s start off with Uber first. Uber has pretty lax criminal background standards so a reformed criminal can drive for uber officially. As long as your criminal background is at least 6 years old, you can drive on Uber.

Now what if you had a few criminal convictions within the last six years? Well, you can drive as someone else! Uber is now famous for not seeing future drivers in person. Well, you can take advantage of that.

Have one of your friends who look like you (or at least their state IDs) apply to be an Uber Driver. When you are required to take a picture, take your own picture and try to look like your friend (hair, glasses, facial hair, etc). Then apply, and then put the money into a bank account under his name but that you have access to. Easy!

There are some people who have not even done this. They just use someone else’s account with some else’s picture on their Uber profile. I mentioned this at the end of my last post: Is your Uber Driver a Drug Dealer?

Lyft

This is a little more complicated but it still works.

Again, have one of your friends who look like you (or at least their state IDs) apply to be an  Lyft Driver. When you are required to take a picture, take your own picture and try to look like your friend (hair, glasses, facial hair, etc). Then apply, and then put the money into a bank account under his name but that you have access to.

When it comes time for the Mentoring Session, you will go to the mentoring session with the friend that signed up. There are a few ways you may attempt to have the mentor take your picture instead of your friends picture:

  • Pose as your friend and use his license and hope that the mentor doesn’t notice
  • Have your friend come with you but politely ask the mentor to use your picture. If he doesn’t oblige, pay off the mentor. (I have a friend pay off his mentor and worked like a charm. My friend is still driving after a year.)

Then proceed as normal and drive under your friends account. Funny enough, he did so well he is a mentor, so now he charges a fee for getting other people driving on Lyft with their friends account. He’s smart about it and makes sure the license picture at least looks like the actual driver. Lyft periodically checks driver license pictures with the real pictures. One of his mentee had their account temporarily suspended after a week pending investigation because the picture didn’t line up.

I have heard of plenty of people driving for Lyft under a different person’s name without even going through all this trouble. Its good money for the driver and also the friend who is letting them use their account as the actual driver usually rents it for a hundred or two a week.

Taxi Drivers are known to do the same thing

Now this has happened for a long time in Taxis and Limousines. That was why there are those placards in the back of the cabs so you can verify it is the right person driving the cab. Uber or Lyft doesn’t, just the picture that appears on the app. Most people don’t check that so there is almost no need to take the above precautions. Just drive as someone else. A few of my friends who drive under other people’s account only had a handful of passengers turn them down. Luckily, Lyft and Uber never found out because they managed to talk the passengers down from doing so, but just be careful as all it takes is one passenger to report it and their account is shut down. Many of my friends drive at night so either its too dark or the customers are too drunk to notice.

Proceed with caution! Think about what you’re doing and execute and you’ll be fine.

Is your Uber Driver a Drug Dealer?

Is your Uber Driver a Drug Dealer?

In my last post (Is your Uber Passenger a Drug Dealer or Buyer?), I wrote that I heard drivers that may have picked up a drug dealer or buyer and a reddit forum that has an account of himself (an Uber Driver) pulled over because he was driving around a drug dealer.

Now I am very grateful that Uber gives second chances to past criminals like me, but I wonder if they are too lenient in their background checks. I have a few friends who were drug dealers but now they drive Uber as a steadier form of income.

But recently, I came across an article of an Uber Driver who had drugs on him and was an active dealer.

http://www.al.com/news/tuscaloosa/index.ssf/2014/09/tuscaloosa_police_arrest_uber.html

Here are parts of that article:

Less than month since Uber launched its ride-share service in Tuscaloosa, police have charged one driver with possession of marijuana and issued several citations to other drivers for violating the city’s taxicab ordinance.

Tuscaloosa police charged an Uber driver last week with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police also issued the driver, Brandon Devante Oliver, 21, of Tuscaloosa, citations for driving on a suspended license, violation of the open beverage law, not having a tag light, operating a vehicle for hire without a business license, not having a chauffeur permit, and operating a vehicle for hire without proper insurance.

The arrest was part of an undercover operation by the Tuscaloosa Police Department, which released a statement earlier this month saying that, according to the city’s taxicab ordinance, “all drivers and companies that are involved in a taxi service or ride sharing program” must have a business license, a chauffeur license, a background check and vehicle inspection.

An undercover officer who used the Uber mobile app service rode with Oliver and said he smelled marijuana in the vehicle, according to a news release.

Officers later stopped the driver and said they found “a bottle of vodka that the driver had been mixing with a drink while driving and almost one-fourth pound of marijuana with baggies for distribution.”

The driver who attacked his passenger with a hammer was also a past drug dealer:

http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Uber-driver-charged-with-punching-S-F-passenger-5526413.php

A driver with transportation firm Uber was charged Tuesday with striking a passenger in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, in a case that heightened the debate over the regulation of startups that have disrupted the taxi industry.

Daveea Whitmire, 28, of San Francisco punched his passenger in the hand and elbowed him in the chest after the two got into an argument in November, according to the district attorney’s office. The passenger didn’t think Whitmire was the driver assigned to his ride, prosecutors said, and took a photo of the license plate, prompting Whitmire to lash out.

Though Whitmire passed Uber’s background checks, court records show he has a criminal past, including convictions for felony drug dealing and misdemeanor battery.

Whitmire was convicted of a felony for selling marijuana in 2009 and a misdemeanor battery of a store clerk in 2012, as first reported by PandoDaily.

Earlier this year, he was charged with another misdemeanor battery, unrelated to Uber, for allegedly slamming a woman to the ground in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. He has pleaded not guilty.

If the above content didn’t scare you enough, maybe this last line should:

An Uber representative said in an e-mail Tuesday that the company would “defer to the criminal justice system to take matters from here.” Whitmire was let go from Uber last year, the representative said.

Whitmire was let go from Uber last year. So why was he driving on Uber? My guess is that he was using his friends account or paying his friend to use it to earn money on Uber as its good money, especially with his criminal record.

This will be the subject of my future post.

Is Your Uber Passenger a Drug Dealer or Buyer?

Is Your Uber Passenger a Drug Dealer or Buyer

I spoken to a few drivers and some of them say they may have driven around a drug dealer.  Here is a summary of the same story I heard from different drivers.

  • I was picking up someone in downtown. Its was a decent part of town. The person didn’t put in a request and said he was making multiple stops. I said fine. First stop was a Quik Mart in a bad part of town. In and out in about 30 seconds. Next was a gas station a little further in the bad part of town. I locked my doors this time. He took about five minutes. He then wanted to get driven back to the pickup location. Once I dropped him off, I called the cops when looking at the way bill so they have a way to track them.

Some drivers also noted that the passenger either admitted they were getting drugs or were obviously getting drugs. This was a story about how this kid tried to hide it.

  • I picked up a kid at Harvard Business School. He said he wanted to pick up something about two miles away and gave me direction (no address). He was giggling the entire time and smelled a little like weed. He would miss a turn every two minutes. Once we get to the gas station, he shuffles over to a park car. He speaks to the front passenger, gives something and then gets a bag. He shuffles back and request he go back to where we came. I had no idea how so I had to use a GPS as I figured he was probably too high to tell me.

With a quick google search, I found a reddit forum that spoke about other accounts of drug dealers or buyers:

  • http://www.reddit.com/r/uberdrivers/comments/2d26vq/drug_dealers/

Here was another account of a drug dealer: http://uberpeople.net/threads/crazy-riders.97/

I have been doing uber for 6 months and I have done 900 trips, and two days ago picked up a customer who was carrying two boxes, I thought nothing of it so I continued driving until I realized a police car on my tail. I got halfway thru the trip when I was pulled over by the cop and was told to come out with my hands up, I was told to get on the ground, the guy also did the same, I later found out he was a wanted drug dealer. I guess people use uber to sell drugs now lol

Ahmed uberx, Apr 23, 2014

 There are 100 more stories like that. Would you like to add yours to the comments?

How to Get Unlimited Free Rides on Uber

How to Get Unlimited Free Rides on Uber (or Lyft)

Here is one way of getting free rides.It is not legal but maybe against Uber’s Terms of Service.

  1. Get a burner phone number via burner app. Use this as your phone number for your main account
  2. Create a gmail email account, and get a free google voice number
  3. Sign up with uber with email, and google voice number. Confirm both. Uber texts you a code and you have to respond to it. You can use google voice to do that. Use someone else’s promo code for base account to avoid suspicion
  4. Sign up for a free Paypal account. With every free verified account, you can get a debit card. You will also have access to a disposable credit card number you can use for online transactions. Make up a new one for each new Uber or Lyft account.
  5. Take your free ride on your first and main account. You may not be able to get free rides on your main account without a ride on it.
  6. Sign up for another free gmail account so you can get free email and google voice phone number.
  7. Sign up for another uber account.
  8. Use referral code from first main account
  9. Use the free ride on the second account.
  10. Repeat and get a ton of free rides on the main account.

Here are some cautions for this approach:

  • Caution that you can get shut down for this so set up your “base” account as if it will get shut down one day.
  • Make sure dont hoard free rides so all your hard work will go to waste
  • Use different IP address (like hotels, coffee shop, public wifi, etc) to sign up the different accounts. Change computers/devices if you are paranoid

Get up to $500 Bonus from Uber

Get up to $500 Bonus from Uber

I am surprised that people don’t know that when Lyft drivers signup to drive on Uber, they can get a $500 bonus if they are referred by another Uber driver. The Uber trip requirement has changed to 20 as of about two months ago but you can still get $500 just by signing up for Uber!

You can sign up for Uber and get $500 with this form.

[Note: The $500 bonus is for existing Lyft drivers and new Uber driver applications. If you are not a Lyft driver, you can still earn up to $250, depending on the city.]

I would encourage all Lyft drivers to sign up and try Uber out. I know many Lyft drivers who did their 20 trips on Uber, got their $500 and then went right back to Lyft. It is a quick way to make a few hundred bucks and broaden your rideshare experience to make you a better driver.

By working on both platforms, you have a much higher chance of reducing wait times and boost your earnings. Sometimes only Lyft has PTT, and other times only Uber has Surge Pricing. I switch between the two depending on which one has the higher multiplier. It’s one of the ways that I increase my earnings every time I am driving, sometimes doubling my hourly income based on PTT/Surge Pricing.

You can see from the list of cities below what the signup bonuses are by city. There are two cities that are only giving out $250: San Diego and Miami.

Signup Bonus Trips
Albuquerque 500 20
Ann Arbor 500 20
Atlanta 500 20
Austin 500 20
Baltimore 500 20
Boston 500 20
Buffalo 500 20
Charlotte 500 20
Chicago 500 20
Cincinnati 500 20
Cleveland 500 20
Columbus 500 20
Connecticut 500 20
Dallas 500 20
Denver 500 20
Detroit 500 20
Fresno 500 20
Honolulu 500 20
Houston 500 20
Indianapolis 500 20
Inland Empire 500 20
Jacksonville 500 20
Kansas City 500 20
Lexington 500 20
Lincoln 250 20
Los Angeles 500 20
Louisville 500 20
Madison 500 20
Memphis 500 20
Miami 250 10
Milwaukee 500 20
Minneapolis 500 20
Modesto 500 20
Nashville 500 20
New Jersey 500 20
New York 500 20
Oklahoma City 500 20
Omaha 500 20
Orange County 500 20
Phoenix 500 20
Pittsburgh 500 20
Providence 500 20
Raleigh 500 20
Rochester 500 20
Sacramento 500 20
Salt Lake City 500 20
San Antonio 500 20
San Diego 250 10
San Francisco 500 20
Santa Barbara 500 20
Seattle 500 20
Spokane 500 20
Tacoma 500 20
Tampa 500 20
Toledo 500 20
Tucson 500 20
Tulsa 500 20
Virginia Beach 500 20
Washington Dc 500 20

Uber Driver Salary

Uber Driver Salary

This post summarizes potential income from Uber driver salary based on my experience. It also has a quick formula for tax calculations.

Salary for UberX Drivers

  • Uber driver salary is based on fares from Uberx trips, minus 20% fee from Uber and $10 weekly Uber phone fee.
  • Normal hourly Uber driver salary in Boston are about $15-25 dollars an hour without the Uber surge pricing. Airport runs can boost my hourly Uber driver salary to $30/hr as UberX drivers get an extra $8.50 to drop off or pickup at the airport to cover tolls.
  • In the mornings with 1.5-2x Uber surge pricing, my Uber driver salary was $30-40 an hour on UberX.
  • Uber surge pricing of 2-3x during Friday or Saturday nights (1-2am in Boston as bar last call is 1am), my Uber driver salary was $50-60 an hour.

If you are an opportunist, you can make a few hundred a week on Uber by working very key hours on UberX.

Taxes for Uber Drivers

You will need to file for taxes (1040SE) regardless of your Uber driver salary. This will go under self employment income, subject to self employment taxes (social security and medicare)

You will get a 1099-K if you received over $20k in Uber fares (your Uber driver salary) and given over 200 rides.

A 1099 would make your life easier as you just use this form to fill out your taxes. If you do not receive one, you will need to calculate your Uber driver salary. Use your Uber driver salary to fill out 1040SE.

Tax Deductions

Generally, it is easiest to deduct these items:

  • Mileage on your car (read below on instructions). (This is in place of actual car expeditures, such as car maintenance, repairs, and gas)
  • Mobile Phone fees (note: it is recommended you get another mobile phone with data just for Lyft, Uber and Sidecar so you can deduct the entire phone bill, or you will need to itemize how much for personal use or business purposes)
  • Cost of things you give to your passengers (for example: water, gum, coffee, cookies (or supplies to make them))

Tax Calculations

Just as a disclaimer, I am not a tax professional and any numbers and calculations below are just for reference only and cannot be directly applied to all situations.

So the first step is to look at your marginal tax rate. Here are the rules for singles for year 2013. Look at this website for other filing situations (http://taxes.about.com/od/Federal-Income-Taxes/qt/Tax-Rates-For-The-2013-Tax-Year.htm):

  • 10% on taxable income from $0 to $8,925, plus
  • 15% on taxable income over $8,925 to $36,250, plus
  • 25% on taxable income over $36,250 to $87,850, plus
  • 28% on taxable income over $87,850 to $183,250, plus
  • 33% on taxable income over $183,250 to $398,350

So for example, I am in the 25% range including the fares I receive from Uber driver salary as taxable income. Here is the calculation:

First you need to take care of the self employment tax, which is at 15.2%. However, half of that is tax deductible, which means you can deduct this amount from your gross Uber driver salary to get your taxable income. You can also claim a deduction on the mileage of your car. I choose to take the mileage calculation as its much easier to track, compared to keeping track of all your gas and other car expenses for deduction.

Half of the self employment tax applies to your gross income (Uber driver salary). Below is the formula I used to calculate my tax rate:

Tax Rate=((G1-M1*.56-G1*.0765)*(T1+.0765)+G1*.0765)/G1

  • G1 is my total Uber driver salary for the year.
  • M1 is my mileage for the year
  • T1 is my marginal tax rate (taking into account all your total income for the year, including Uber/Lyft/Sidecar)
  • 0.56 is the federal mileage rate
  • 0.0765 is 1/2 of the self employment tax for 2013

My tax rate for my Lyft salary and Uber driver salary is hovering around 25%. With more Uber driver surge pricing, that number goes up as my Uber driver salary to mileage ratio is much higher. This tax rate was based on 25% marginal tax rate. You could estimate your own tax rate by adjusting your tax rate accordingly based on your marginal tax rate.

Your take home Uber driver salary after taxes and Uber/Lyft 20% fee from your hourly wage is about 60% of any fares you take in on any given day. This can go up or down depending on the Uber surge pricing and your own tax rate.

General Tax Tips

A note about self employment income:

Self-Employment Income

It is a common misconception that if a taxpayer does not receive a Form 1099-MISC or if the income is under $600 per payer, the income is not taxable. There is no minimum amount that a taxpayer may exclude from gross income.

So make sure to keep track of your Uber driver salary. You will need to report your Uber driver salary if you don’t get a 1099.

Make sure to have good notes before attempting to claim a deduction on the mileage for your Uber driver salary. If you are looking to earn a sizable Uber driver salary (>$20k), I would highly recommend you claim a deduction. This year, I have been taking more careful notes whenever I drive on Uber so I can claim mileage as the tax deduction. Take note that self employment deductions are the most audited part of any tax return so make sure you have the records to back up your deductions.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified tax consultant so any information above is purely for reference only. Please speak to a certified tax professional about your specific tax situation.

Uber Driver and Passenger Scams

Uber Driver and Passenger Scams

This post will list some common scams that happens either on or off Uber.

Ride-jacking as defined by Lyft:

Lyft-Jacking is the unintentional mis-matching of drivers and passengers (i.e. when a passenger gets into the wrong Lyft). This is a problem because passengers could end up stranded, or paying for someone else’s Lyft, or both!

Passenger Scam:

A random person who is not your passenger will get into the car, and just agree that they’re your passenger. If you been in a few Lyfts or Ubers, you can spot an uber or lyft in a split second so it’s not as hard as it seems. The random person will have to be opportunistic in that they have to get into a car that’s just waiting somewhere. It’s not so hard if you’re in a crowded bar area and just jump into a random car. Cancel the original request and have the new passenger request you.

Driver Scam:

A random driver who is not your driver will lower the window and ask “Uber?” As a driver, it’s pretty easy to spot people waiting for their Uber. Very few passengers are actually waiting out on the street as they usually request one a few minutes before they’re heading out. Then the driver will proceed to ask you to use a credit card or cash as they say something is off with the app. In an Uber, you never have to take out a credit card. Everything is done through the app. If you hear anything like this, get out as that is not your car.

Before getting into any car, always check that it is the correct car. If it is not the correct car, I would advise you not get into that car. Some drivers do not use the car listed on the app (it happens, either at the shop, or unavailable for some reason) and normally its fine, but it can be a safety risk. I believe Uber will cover you as a passenger in case you get injured but there could be a chance that it’s not the correct driver altogether. If its not the right car, ask for the driver’s name.

Especially for my female passengers, I always say their name to make sure they know I’m the right driver.

There have been some incidents on the news involving people getting into cars that claim to be Uber, even though the person never used an app to request a ride. In most of these cases, they are not actually Uber drivers. In that case, never get into that car. You need to request an Uber or Lyft with your smartphone in order for that person to pick you up. Otherwise, you’re getting into a strangers car without any way to track it.

Surge Pricing Scam:

Passenger Scam:

The passenger will request an uber right outside the surge zone and then call immediately to tell you where they really are. Most drivers know what the surge map looks like and you can check with your personal phone. I would cancel the ride as they’re just trying to get around the surge pricing

Driver Scam:

When you (the passenger) gets into the car, the driver will say how they pressed the wrong button and have you re-request the ride. Pay attention to your app and make sure either there is no surge pricing or its at a similar level as when you requested it. If you feel like there’s something going on, just leave the uber and request another.

Driver don’t end trip, passenger cancels trip during the ride

Passenger Scam:

This has not happened to me, but the passenger can try to cancel the ride midway to try to have the end ride early. Some drivers don’t keep their phones in his view and if the phone volume is low, the passenger can get away with it. I would recommend all drivers to keep it in view but not on the windshield so other people or law enforcement can see it.

Driver Scam:

Make sure that you see the fare amount as soon as you get out or very quickly after you left the Uber/Lyft. If you didn’t, then the driver may have kept the drive going. There was once I forgot to turn it off but I only drove for another 10 seconds but some drivers do forget so make sure they end it on time. If not, then cancel the ride yourself and email support about it so they can adjust the ride accordingly.

Airport Pickup

Passenger Scam:

The passenger will request from outside the airport area but then call quickly to confirm that they are at the airport. This will get around any kind of location based lockout zones as they’re choosing another location. Drivers should be aware of where they can and cannot pick up. There are some California airports that both Uber and Lyft do not recommend picking people up at. If there is an airport surcharge, the customer will still be charged for it as it counts where you started the trip, not where the request was (unlike surge pricing).

Tolls

Driver Scam:

The driver may ask you to pay for tolls right there in cash in the car. Refuse. Everything is handled by the app so no need to use cash or your own credit card inside a Lyft or Uber. Heres why:

  • Uber: Tolls get automatically charge to you during the ride in your fare. The driver automatically gets paid out (without the 20% fee) what the tolls nominally is (EZ-pass users may be able to get more as EZ-pass users often get discounts)

Uber Driver App on Your Own iPhone

Uber Driver App on Your Own iPhone

Uber is allowing drivers to use our own iPhone to drive on the Uber network. Uber started charging their drivers a $10 weekly fee for use of the Uber Phone. Now that they are allowing us to use our own phones, the fee makes sense for some drivers who don’t want to deal with another phone bill.

There is a benefit with owning and using your own phone. You can use this phone only for Uber and you can deduct any phone expenses from your taxes. Make sure that you use this phone for Uber purposes so you can deduct the entire phone bill from your taxes. If you are looking to buy an iPhone for Uber, you can deduct the cost of the phone itself from your taxes as well. To claim it on your taxes, you will need a receipt for the purchase in case of an audit.

Only iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, or 5S with iOS7 will be allowed to install and use the Uber Driver app, which is separate from their passenger app like Sidecar.

You can get the Uber iPhone App after filling out this form: http://t.uber.com/byod/

Below was the email from Uber:

Hi

Over the last few months, many of you have told us that you would rather use Uber on your personal phone instead of a separate device.  Today, we’re excited to announce that you can use your own iPhone on the Uber system!

The functionality of the Uber Driver app on your phone is the same as the one you are used to, so you should not notice any substantial changes.

Right now, in order to be eligible, you must:

  • Have an iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, or 5S
  • Have iOS 7 (to check go to Settings > General > About > Version)
  • Have a data plan that allows you to use at least 2GB/month of data for Uber
  • Any major phone carrier (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint) will work
Please note, the Driver App is currently only available for the iPhone models described above.In order to get the Uber Driver app on your own iPhone and turn in your existing Uber phone, please come to the following phone return session:What to Bring: Uber phone and your personal iPhone (both fully charged)All above criteria must be met in order to swap your phone.If you don’t have an iPhone but would be interested in using your own phone for Uber, please fill out this survey telling us what type of phone you have. We will contact you when your device is supported.