Lawsuit Alleges Uber Is Spamming Consumers With Illegal Texts

The concept of ride-sharing service Uber is built around consumers’ use of mobile phones: the company sends text messages confirming the creation of an account, users hail a cab through the company’s app, and the company routinely informs customers their ride is on the way via text. While this may be convenient for Uber customers, a new lawsuit claims Uber is violating federal law by sending unsolicited texts to people who want nothing to do with the service.

The complaint [PDF] was filed in federal court in Chicago on Friday. The plaintiff, who seeks to represent a larger class of consumers affected by the same issue, alleges that Uber’s practice of contacting potential customers via text messages and phone calls violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act because the company does not ensure the accuracy of the telephone numbers it’s provided, leading consumers to routinely receive unsolicited messages from the ride-sharing service.

As an ordinary business practice, when enrolling new customers Uber collects phone numbers and informs those consumers they can expect to receive text messages to the number provided.

However, the lawsuit claims that the ride-sharing company doesn’t employ procedures to confirm the accuracy of the telephone numbers submitted by potential customers before dispatching text messages.

As a result, the plaintiff believes that many of the numbers in Uber’s possession are inaccurate, resulting in the company routinely sending unsolicited text messages to individuals who never provided consent to be contacted, according to the lawsuit.

That was the case for the Illinois woman who filed the lawsuit, claiming to have received at least nine unsolicited text messages from Uber since June.

According to the lawsuit, beginning on June 14, she received messages from an Uber-identified phone number that read: “Your Uber account verification number is: 9274. Enter this in our app to confirm your Uber account.”

Several days, later the woman says she received a similar message. Then in early August, she received at least six more text messages from the ride-sharing company.

“At no time did Plaintiff attempt to acquire the Uber application, become a customer of Uber or otherwise use Uber,” the lawsuit states. “Moreover, at no time did Defendant confirm the ownership of the phone number to which Defendant was transmitting text messages or otherwise confirm that Defendant had obtained Plaintiff’s consent to send any such text messages.”

The woman claims that Uber’s practice of sending unsolicited text messages violated consumers’ privacy and resulted in monetary losses, because individuals frequently had to pay for text messages and calls they did not authorize.

The lawsuit seeks to obtain damages of $500 for each violation of TCPA for the all affected consumers and an injunction to prevent Uber from continuing all “wireless spam” activities in the future.

[via Chicago Tribune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.