Apparently, you can add fake yellow taxi scammers to the list of things that are out to get you in NYC, along with falling air conditioning units, exploding manholes, and all that subway station bacteria. After a Reddit user posted several photos showing what appears to be a bogus, unlicensed taxi, Gothamist reported on Sunday that there could be several shady yellow taxis roaming the city and potentially stealing unsuspecting customers' credit card information.
When reached by Thrillist on Monday, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission confirmed the "taxi" shown in the photos is indeed not licensed by the city. TLC Public Information Officer Greg Gordon said, "This particular vehicle has actually been seized twice before by the TLC – once in 2006 and once in 2007." Gordon said fraudulent yellow cabs, in general, are "few and far between."
However, it's worth knowing how to spot these credit card theft-traps-on-wheels, and Gordon said there a few ways to identify whether your next yellow taxi is legit or not. Here's what you should look out for:
Make Sure Your Taxi Has A Medallion
"All licensed yellow taxis have a medallion affixed to the hood of the car and each medallion has its own individual number," Gordon said. "Medallion numbers consist of a number, followed by a letter, followed by two more numbers. For example, a medallion number could be 4Q88 (this is not an actual medallion number). Besides the hood of the car, the medallion number also appears on the rooflight, license plates, and the left and right side, just behind the rear passenger doors, on the exterior of the vehicle."
The License Plate Should Match The Medallion Number
Gothamist also points out that the taxi's license plates should match the medallion number (numbers and a letter), and if the taxi was licensed anywhere in New York State, the car should have a NY plate that reads "taxi" somewhere on it.
Don't Be Fooled By Fake Roof Lights That Say "Taxi"
Don't get into a car if the light on the roof says "taxi" or anything other than the medallion number, according to Gothamist.
If You Spot A Fake Cab, Report It To 311
As for the suspicious yellow cab that appears to be on the road again, Gordon said the TLC's enforcement unit is on the lookout for the vehicle. Additionally, he said that if anyone encounters what appears to be a phony taxi, they should report the car by calling 311.
Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and hopes he can remember all of these things after a few drinks. Send news tips to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.