The announcement that London’s transit regulator would not renew Uber’s licence this week has sparked concerns that unauthorised drivers are swapping accounts here in Australia.
Rideshare Drivers’ Association of Australia secretary Les Johnson said that they knew of instances where drivers had swapped accounts.
“We know the same kind of thing is happening here,” Mr Johnson told The New Daily.
“To what degree I can’t be certain… (but) I do know of a driver in Sydney who actually went out and was able to rent another account and use it.
“He then passed the info on to Uber but basically they haven’t done much about it.”
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Some drivers are using sites like Facebook and Gumtree to sell or rent their accounts for as much as $300 a week.
Posts seen by The New Daily show drivers selling and buying accounts in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth by asking for an “Uber eats bag” – code for accounts.
Hopeful drivers must complete background security checks before they can be sub-contracted by the company. They need to hand over their motor vehicle records, drivers license, work permit and any information related to criminal records.
In September, Indian national Manpreet Singh pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to raping a woman after he had used another person’s account to pose as a legitimate Uber driver.
Mr Johnson said the ride-sharing app had introduced measures to combat this.
“If you go to sign on, you have to take a selfie and verify your identity,” he said.
“But we have also received feedback people are getting around that. It doesn’t matter what you do. they’ll be someone who works around it.”
After Mr Singh was charged there was a push in Victoria to equip drivers with cameras.
At the time, Victorian Transport Matters MP Rod Barton said the system provided an opportunity for men to sexually assault women.
“The onus shouldn’t be on the passenger to run through security checks before getting in a vehicle – these incidents are not the fault of the women involved,” Mr Barton said in a statement.
“This is the fault of these men and a system that provides the opportunity for them to act in this way.”
But Uber said its system was not to blame.
“We’re confident that the regulatory framework in Australia, combined with our leading technology and processes, is appropriately managing the risks identified in London,” a company spokeswoman said.
Mr Johnson said it was not about fixing cars with cameras, but making sure people check who their driver is before jumping in.
“I don’t think cameras are the answer,” he said.
“It’s simply a matter of, if you call a ride-share vehicle, once that ride is accepted they’ll send you a small photo and the name, and it will send you the model of the car and rego of the car. So you know who it is.”
Uber has recently started notifying people when they book to check that it’s the right car before getting in.
“If I don’t look like anything like the photo, are you going to get in the car? I would hope not,” Mr Johnson said.