PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lisa Howe got an alert from her bank. Had she really spent several hundred dollars on Uber rides in the past few days?
“No!” Howe told the bank. “During that time I didn’t even take an Uber.”
But when Howe logged onto her bank account, she discovered more than $550 worth of unauthorized Uber charges, including international fees. The transactions nearly drained Lisa’s account; an account she slowly built up while living in a family homeless shelter with her toddler, an account she relied on to pay for rent and her child’s diapers.
“I was mad,” Howe said, as she sat at the kitchen table of her new apartment. “I was very mad that Uber would allow this to happen. I was worried about not being able to pay my bills. I was worried about being homeless again because I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills.”
A spokesperson for Uber told Call 12 for Action that the charges appeared to stem from a case of “password reuse,” which means Howe’s account and password were used on a new device.
According to Uber, the ride-sharing service sends “email notifications to let riders know if their account is accessed using their password on a new device.”
The company added, “if you receive one of these notices and you’re not the one who logged in, you can immediately report it to our team for investigation.”
Howe’s issue highlights the importance of strong passwords. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are several things you can do to help protect all of your accounts that require passwords:
- Use a different password for each account
- Mix letters, numbers, and characters
- Never use your name or birthday
- Use at least 10 to 12 characters
Within 24 hours of Howe reporting the unauthorized charges, Uber reset her password and refunded her money.