Uber users in Singapore charged for 'phantom rides' overseas

Uber users in Singapore charged for 'phantom rides' overseas

SINGAPORE: Several Uber users in Singapore have complained this month of being charged for rides they never took, often in faraway places.

The victims, who held credit or debit cards from different banks, were charged in foreign currencies including the US dollar, euro and British pound.

Ms Daphne Maia Loo, a personal trainer, said she noticed something was amiss when she was withdrawing cash from an ATM and realised that her bank balance did not seem quite right.

In a Facebook post on Monday (Nov 20), she posted a screenshot of her bank account showing several transactions charged by Uber, with one coming up to £154 (S$276). 

Ms Loo told Channel NewsAsia that she has noted 15 unauthorised transactions on her OCBC debit card so far, but there were still pending transactions that have not been reflected in her bank statement.

When she contacted Uber, the company said they would reverse all the charges, but only after Ms Loo has submitted a fraud claim for every unauthorised transaction with her bank.

"I'm pretty sure I will get back my money (most of it anyway)," she told Channel NewsAsia. However, due to the currency conversions, Ms Loo said she assumed she would not get refunded for a "few dollars", which she would let slide.

"All the bookings for Uber charged on my card were not made from my Uber app," she said, adding that she did not receive any billing notifications from Uber via the app or email.

"My card was used on someone else's Uber app - someone based in UK - as the charges were in GBP."

Ms Loo, who said she would not be using Uber anymore, was informed by the company that they have blocked the account that used her card details. 

Another user, who has asked to remain anonymous, said she had a huge shock when she checked her bank account transactions on Sunday. 

Uber user fraud
One Facebook user said she lost more than S$1,300 within 5 days due to unauthorised transactions. 

There were more than 30 unauthorised transactions made from Nov 13, adding up to S$1,300. She called DBS Bank immediately to cancel her card.

The 25-year-old told Channel NewsAsia that Uber is reviewing the case and will give her a refund. While she said she would still use the ride-hailing service, she will pay by cash in future.

A media coordinator, who also wished to remain anonymous, told Channel NewsAsia that three unauthorised transactions totalling about S$92 were made using her Citibank credit card in euro and Canadian dollars last Friday.

She was informed of the suspicious transactions by  the bank, which will be issuing her a new card, she said.

A few other users also said they were victims of similar scams on social media. Facebook user Richard Toh posted on Nov 3 that about 75 transactions on both Uber and Nintendo Europe, which came up to more than S$4,000, were made on his DBS credit card over two weeks.

Another Facebook user Sheela Narayanan shared on Nov 14 that her credit card was used to pay for Uber rides in Europe.

This is not the first time such reports have been made against Uber. In Singapore, there were reports of such fraud earlier this year, and last year, The Guardian newspaper reported that Londoners received shocking bills for "phantom rides" in Mexico and New York.

Replying to Channel NewsAsia's query, a spokesperson from Uber said that their team is reviewing this incident and will address it accordingly. 

"We would like to assure the public that payment information is encrypted when you enter it into the Uber app," added the spokesperson from Uber Singapore. 

"However, there are myriad reasons why such incidents occur - including whether the user is maintaining good habits in safeguarding personal information security, whether the device has been compromised, or even issues with the financial institution and its products." 

If users believe that their payment information has been stolen from another service and is being used on Uber, they should contact their bank immediately, the spokesperson said. 

"We will work with them to refund the charges," she added. 

Those whose accounts have been compromised should also reach out to Uber's support team and they will help reset the user's password and refund unauthorised trips. 

Source: CNA/ad