Local Uber and Lyft drivers routinely say they appreciate the flexible work hours. Customers like the ease of hailing a ride and paying for it with a smartphone app that stores their credit card information. Together, the services operate in about 400 cities.
But some problems have cropped up in recent months, said Mark Breiner, the Public Service Commission's director of transportation.
The commission is investigating reports that individuals are representing themselves to be Uber drivers when they aren't. The illegal drivers are picking up fares, and telling customers they can accept only cash.
Most of the alleged illegal activity is occurring during weekends in Omaha in the downtown and Old Market district, Breiner said.
As a safeguard, Uber provides a photograph of the driver and the car, and the vehicle's license plate on the app.
"If you're picked up by one of these people, make sure the information jibes," Breiner cautioned.
The commission has not received any reports of attacks or injuries connected with the illegal drivers.
Breiner would not provide additional details because the investigation is ongoing. Because this is the commission's inaugural report, it's not clear if unauthorized drivers have been taking fares in the past.
As a result, the commission report is recommending that lawmakers craft legislation this year requiring legitimate drivers to display some type of identifier, such as a sign or placard so a "passenger can more readily identify the vehicles."
The commission also is advising the Legislature to consider increasing the penalties for anyone operating illegally.