Uber rider verification rolls out in Chicago, 11 other cities Thursday to increase security for all

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Thursday, April 18, 2024
Uber rider verification rolls out in Chicago, 11 other cities Thursday
The Uber rider verification pilot program will begin in Chicago and 11 other cities for safety of both drivers and riders. An Uber driver was killed in Englewood last week.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Uber is rolling out a huge security upgrade across 12 cities tomorrow, including Chicago.

Riders will now be "verified" to make sure they are who they claim to be. Uber said this is in response to security and safety concerns that drivers have in Chicago and other cities.

You could see a blue verification checkmark on your Uber account starting Thursday if you live in the Chicago area or 11 other cities. Uber's chief trust and security officer spoke exclusively to the ABC7 I-Team to explain the new rider verification process.

"What that is, is confirmation that we know that a rider in an Uber is who they say they are. The way it works is we take information that we have about riders on Uber name, phone number or credit card, and we cross-check that information with a trusted third party database," explained Heather Childs, Chief Trust and Security Officer for Uber.

Uber says most people will automatically get verified without doing a thing. Uber will cross reference personal information that they already have in your account, no ID required. That completes the verification process for the vast majority of people.

READ MORE: Rideshare driver speaks out after passenger killed in Englewood shooting; victim ID'd

But if, for some reason, that system doesn't work and you remain "unverified," Uber says riders would have to upload a government ID license or passport get verification.

"They just take a photograph of their license in the app and we verify their ID that way," Childs said.

If you fall into this category and don't want to upload an ID or don't have one, you would still be able to ride Uber.

"They're not barred from the platform in any way," Childs said. "They just wouldn't have the blue check mark showing we took the extra step to show they are who they say."

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However, if you are not verified, a driver could decide to not pick you up.

"We're monitoring this rider verification badge over time to see how it works out," explained Childs. "We actually think that the rider verification badge will promote equity because now drivers will have confidence in who they're picking up, maybe in neighborhoods that they wouldn't normally."

Childs said this is something that their drivers want.

"They want to know more about people getting in and out of their cars for safety reasons," she said.

Rideshare drivers have been increasingly at risk all over the nation and in Chicago. Just last week an Uber driver was injured and his passenger was killed in Englewood. The Uber driver said he was blocked by the assailants' vehicle, then shots were fired. Police have no suspects and have not said what the motive was.

Riders we talked to, like Timothy Hardy, said they're all for the enhanced safety checks.

"I think it's really good. I mean, you really don't know who's getting into the car. So it's good to, you know, to verify everybody, to make sure that the driver is safe," he said.

The verification process is a pilot program. It will not perform criminal background checks on riders.

As you may know, Uber has always performed criminal and traffic background checks on drivers.

For your safety, always make sure you are matching up your driver's picture and license plate before you get in a vehicle.