What Every Mom Needs to Tell Her Daughter About Uber

Photograph by Twenty20

Harley Quinn Smith almost got kidnapped while waiting for an Uber outside of a Starbucks in Brentwood, Calif. Who is Harley Quinn Smith, you ask? Harley is the 16-year-old daughter of "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" director Kevin Smith. Kevin is known for his quick wit and rapid-fire repartee, but I'm guessing Kevin wasn't feeling so witty when he heard the news that his teen daughter was nearly abducted by a fake Uber driver.

Here's what went down.

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Harley was waiting for her Uber to come. If you haven't used Uber, the Cliff's Notes is, you have an app on your phone, which pings a nearby driver to pick you up. The app gives the driver your name and location while giving you the name of the driver you're waiting for as well as the make and license plate of his or her car. It also tells you, in real time, where the driver is and how long until that driver gets to you.

(Photo on left by: Harley Quinn/Instagram)

So while Harley was standing on a Brentwood sidewalk waiting for her Uber, two young guys ages 20 to 30 pulled up with an Uber sign in their window and told her to get in the car. Harley recounted the event on her Instagram account saying, "When I asked who they were there to pick up, making sure it was the right car, they wouldn't answer me and said to get in the car. They didn't have the Uber app on their phone and were clearly just two disgusting dudes trying to kidnap a girl standing on her own."

Technology has our kids getting into stranger's cars—just the thing we taught them not to do.

I was impressed that a 16-year-old was street smart enough not to just jump in the car. She knew what to check for and to follow her instinct that this fake Uber driver wasn't the driver for whom she was waiting. As a mother, I can't help but think of all the "what if's" that could have happened to Harley. Undoubtedly her mother can't help but think of them either. Technology after all, has our kids getting into stranger's cars—just the thing we taught them not to do.

Though my kids are way too young to be Uber-ing on their own, I can't help but wonder how many teens and young adults are out in the world using similar technology to their advantage, but are also vulnerable to the sick minds who want use the same technology to their own advantage.

So if your kid is old enough take an Uber on his or her own, make sure she (and he) is following these rules to stay safe.

1. Ask the driver who they are picking up.

Never give your name first. An official Uber driver will have your name and will ask your name to make sure you are the correct passenger.

2. Look for the Uber sign in the window.

If your child doesn't know what the Uber logo looks like, show them. But keep in mind, anyone with good Photoshop skills can mock up a fake logo. So make sure your child is aware this can happen and are on alert.

3. There should only be one Uber driver in the car.

If your driver already has a passenger or a friend with them, don't get in the car unless your child is taking Uber pool, which other passengers take as well.

4. Ask the driver for his or her name.

Before getting in the car, check the name of your driver on the Uber app as well as the make and license plate of the car. Ask the driver for his or her name, but don't tell him or her the name of the driver you're waiting for beforehand.

5. Don't stand around looking like you're waiting for an Uber while you're waiting for an Uber.

Sadly, it's easy to spot someone waiting for an Uber. Someone waiting for Uber is usually alone, though not always, and is staring at their phone while scanning oncoming traffic for their ride. A predator will know this and will try to take advantage of someone with the "I'm Waiting for Uber" postures.

6. Don't get in the car if you don't feel right about it.

Sometime we just have an instinct that something isn't right. Teach your kids to use that instinct to their advantage when. It's better to be wrong about a driver's intentions and not get in the car than get in the car and into a nightmare.

7. Always report an Uber driver who doesn't follow protocol.

Uber drivers have very specific rules of conduct, that includes a cashless ride where all transactions are done through the Uber app. The driver should take you to your destination and nowhere else, and the driver will have all of your information in his or her phone before he or she picks you up. If the driver doesn't have your name and payment information before you're picked up, don't get in the car. If anything suspicious, inappropriate or dangerous happens, call 911 immediately.

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After the near miss Harley's dad, Kevin Smith, made her a cake that said, "Sorry men suck," on it. Though Kevin is getting kudos for his cheeky response, I don't think there's anything cute or funny about what could have happened to Harley.

The real kudos go to Harley for having the sense not to get in the car, trusting her instincts and protecting herself.

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