Uber, Lyft workers being taken for ride by ‘corporate office’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as those just thinking about applying, are getting hit by a phishing scam targeting ride-share workers.

The Better Business Bureau warns that someone claiming to be from the “corporate office” is calling and emailing drivers, telling them he must have access to their accounts. He asks for your referral code and driver’s license information.

Those who have complied have found the scammer can log in, change their payment information and gain access to earnings, a BBB alert says.

Would-be drivers are getting hit up by messages from bogus Lyft or Uber employees, who claim to be doing company hiring. The recruiters promise new drivers a free car and a guaranteed hourly wage.

Such a deal. But too good to be true, the BBB says.

Those who respond to the text message or email get a fake application that they’re asked to complete. The document asks for banking and other personal data, claiming to need it for your new car lease.

It’s just the kind of information that opens the door to identity theft and all kinds of mayhem.

One tip-off that you might be a scam target is a communication that differs from the way in which the company normally contacts you. For example, if a rideshare company usually reaches you by email, be automatically suspicious “if you suddenly start receiving phone calls or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications,” the BBB says.

In general, be cautious of generic emails. Many scammers try to increase their odds of success by casting a wide net and including little or no specific information in fake emails.

“Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past,” the BBB advises.

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Kaye Richards of Albuquerque thwarted a different sort of scam with the same end goal: getting her to reveal some personal information.

The caller, claiming to be from DISH, told her he needed to get information off of her receiver so he could change the angle of her satellite.

Richards suspected a rat and decided to test her theory by asking for a return phone number so she could call back later. The caller refused and transferred her to a “supervisor,” who also would not give a number but was more forthcoming with a warning;: “This could affect your signal.”

When that didn’t work, the supposed DISH representative hung up on her.

Just to be sure there was nothing wrong with her equipment, she called the phone number on a DISH bill and learned all was well and that the call was a fake.

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Seems there is no refuge from IRS scams.

Although tax season is over for most people, the IRS is warning of a new type of fraud that has reared its head nationwide during the past few weeks.

This one involves the IRS’ Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, which is an automated system for paying federal taxes electronically by Internet or by phone using a voice response system. It’s a free service and does not require purchase of a prepaid debit card.

The way it starts out is that a fake IRS agent contacts you and demands immediate payment through a prepaid debit card. That’s not new; it happens en masse during tax season.

The twist is this: the “agent” tells you that the IRS has sent you two certified letters that have come back as undeliverable. The taxpayer is threatened with arrest if he or she doesn’t make payment immediately on a prepaid debit card that supposedly is linke to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. Of course, what it’s really linked to is the scammer.

In addition, taxpayers are told not to contact their tax preparer, attorney or local IRS office until after the payment is made.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210.

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