Ridesharing apps are a popular way to move around the city and with SXSW just days away, you'll see a lot more people using them. But Austin Police said festival-goers need to be extra cautious to avoid getting duped by fake drivers.
It happened to one group of out-of-towners this past Sunday.
The woman KVUE’s Nicole Rosales spoke to doesn't want her identity to be revealed. She said she was with a group of friends on Rainey Street around 2 a.m. - around the time bars were closing - when they were looking for a way home.
"I knew one of us was getting us a ride with the ridesharing apps, but I guess we weren't clear with who was doing it,” the passenger said.
Soon after, her friend flagged down a car.
"So I assumed that friend had called that ride and had recognized the vehicle,” she said.
Once inside, she knew something wasn't right.
"That the car didn't have any identification, he didn't even have his GPS out,” she continued.
When she asked who he was affiliated with, his answer was shocking.
"I'm with Scooper because I scooped you up,” she said.
All three passengers were terrified, they demanded to get out but the driver kept locking the doors, after a few blocks of driving, he finally let them out.
"And my friend handed him whatever cash he had,” she said.
And although the three are safe, police say there are a few key things to watch out for when using ridesharing apps.
- Look for a fingerprint decal on the windshield
- Ask for their TNC or chauffeur license, drivers are required to carry it at all times
- Ride in groups
- Let others know your route
But if you feel unsafe, contact police.
"Call 911, say I'm in this vehicle, give as many descriptors if you can, and if the person is not actively trying to grab you or anything like that just stay calm,” Austin Officer Destiny Winston said. ”If you see something that is very alarming call 911 immediately. Report it if you don’t want someone else to get into a bad situation.”
Police also say to limit your drinking so you can ask these questions and look for those indicators. They say ridesharing apps are great ways to get home safely if you use it the right way. There are several companies that do operate in the city legally which include: RideAustin, Fasten, Fare and Wingz to name a few.