Canada’s National Post reports that what police consider to be probably a “network of a few people” at more than one cab company have been victimizing unwary riders by sliding their bank cards through an unauthorized point-of-sale machine and handing a replica card back to them. The card is then used to drain the victim’s bank account. TD Bank alone says it is handling 65 claims following this pattern. The online payment mechanism used in ridesharing services appears to be more secure against scams of this sort, but the operations manager for one of the taxi companies is touchy on that point: “To suggest that this has anything to do with taxis vs. Uber is ludicrous,” she tells the NP.
Which raises the question: if Uber and Lyft were the older technology, would cities following the Precautionary Principle legalize taxis for hail? Of course, to those of us who elevate principles of liberty over the regulatory precautionary principle, the answer is clear: legalize both kinds of service, and let consumers decide for themselves which risks they are willing to run. But wouldn’t it be absurd to ban the safer service and thus force people to use the riskier?