How to Use Rideshare Apps More Safely

Many companies offer these services, and two of the most popular rideshare platforms are Uber and Lyft. While they can be helpful in many situations, it’s important to take a few precautions. Here are 6 tips to help you to stay safe while using rideshare apps.

Set up your app ahead of time

Make sure to set up everything in the rideshare app ahead of time so you have your rideshare platform ready to go at all times. The process can be involved, so you don’t want to wait until the moment you need a car and are standing on a street corner. Rideshare services often require you to download the app onto a smartphone or tablet. Next, you will be required to create a profile by entering your email address and a new password for the app. You’ll then be asked to enter your credit card information, which will stay filed in the app. This will be your payment method of choice and typically your card will then automatically be charged after using the service. Once you have this all set up, take a moment to familiarize yourself with how the app works.

Learn about the in-app safety features

“Most popular rideshare apps incorporate several great safety features,” explains Paul Grattan Jr., a policing fellow with the National Policing Institute and graduate of the FBI National Academy program. Uber, for instance, has a Safety Toolkit feature on the app. For example, with Uber you can select features like “Follow My Ride,” which sends a message to your designated recipients so that they can follow along with your ride in the app and see when you reach your destination.

“Most apps also have a feature that lets you call 911 through the app – which gives you and the 911 operator the added benefit of your exact location as well as information about the vehicle you’re in,” says Grattan. Lyft allows you to connect to an ADT security professional via its app if you need help. Before using one of these apps, Grattan suggests taking the time to sit down with a trusted friend or family member to learn which safety features are available on your favorite rideshare apps.

Use another app that has safety-tracking features or tell a friend

You can use other tracking apps to share your location with friends or family – such as Find My Friends, bSafe, or similar applications. These apps let loved ones see your route and to share your locations with one another. “The basic safety tips remain tried and true – let your friends know where you are and where you’re going, call a friend and have them remain on the phone with you during your trip, and be mindful of people you don’t know approaching you about a ride,” says Grattan. Better yet, buddy up and have a friend or family member ride with you.

Ask the driver who they are picking up before you get in

When your ride arrives, confirm that the vehicle and its license plate match the information provided in the app. Your driver should also have a sticker on the front or back window of their car that shows that they work for a specific company, like Uber or Lyft. “Next, before getting into the car, ask your driver who they are picking up,” says Grattan. “Wait until they confirm your name.” He also recommends asking the driver their name and making sure it’s the one listed in the app. Compare the photo of the driver in the app with the driver of the car. Don’t get in the car if any of these things do not match. Grattan also recommends waiting for your car indoors so that someone doesn’t see you standing on a corner and pretend to be a rideshare driver.

Make small talk … but don’t reveal too much

Rideshare drivers are often notorious for being chatty. You can certainly have a lovely conversation with a driver when they are taking you from point A to B, however, refrain from telling them too much personal information. Don’t tell them that you live by yourself, that you have a well-paying job or that you have certain precious cargo at home. For instance, someone with a rare record collection wouldn’t want to divulge this to a stranger. And if you’re traveling soon, make sure not to tell your driver that you will be out of town. Don’t give out personal information like your email address, social media account handle, or phone number to a rideshare driver.

Keep payments in the app

If you’re using an app like Lyft or Uber, you do not need to provide cash or a credit card for any part of the transaction. “Do not provide additional cash payments or credit card information to anyone, including your driver,” says Grattan. Gratuities can be paid through the app as well, after your ride. A rideshare drive should be a completely cashless experience. For your own safety, you don’t want to be waving cash around in the back of a car. “Keeping your personal information secure at all times can prevent future incidents as well, not just during your ride – such as someone later using your credit card or banking information or opening unauthorized accounts in your name,” adds Grattan.

At the end of the day, trust your intuition. “If something feels off, it probably is,” Grattan says. “Our instincts are very powerful, but we often fail to act on them.” He also suggests reviewing the above tips every now and then to make sure you have a safety checklist in mind before using a rideshare service.

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