Uber employs a third-party claims company to investigate and settle cases of sexual assault by its drivers and has handed off riders’ personal information without seeking their permission, or even informing them.
The ride-hailing company says the goal is to “facilitate support for victims.” But women interviewed by USA TODAY were caught off guard to hear from a claims adjuster and say they were confused, even unsettled, by the repeated calls and vague messages.
In one case, a woman received a call from Crawford Global Technical Services three days after she reported being raped by a driver in Sacramento, California in August.
“I’m like, ‘Who the hell are you? I'm already talking to so many people right now,’” Madison McArthur, 22, recalls thinking. “ ‘I've already talked to Uber. Why are you calling me?’”
She brushed him off, but the man was persistent. He called or emailed five times over nine days, according to McArthur’s phone records and emails.
“We haven't been able to reach each other,” the man said in an Aug. 21 voicemail. “I was hoping to see if you were available this afternoon.”
In a statement, Uber spokesman Andrew Hasbun said it is common practice for companies to hire third-party claims administrators like Crawford.
“We have long believed that victims would feel more comfortable working with a 3rd party rather than Uber directly,” he wrote.
Uber, however, acknowledged McArthur’s case was mishandled and said she should not have been contacted so soon.
In response to USA TODAY’s findings, the company vowed to change its practices to inform people who report incidents that they might be hearing from Crawford. It also said it has finalized plans to launch a “survivor resource hotline” staffed by an anti-sexual violence nonprofit, RAINN, which will handle requests for counseling and other support instead of Crawford.