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Uber launches new rider verification program in Chicago, 11 other cities

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 explained 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.

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.

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

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.

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.