The next time you take a cab ride, take note of a few things: are there large dents on the car? Is it older than most taxis? What about its medallion? As CBS5 reports more and more illegitimate taxis, limos, and town cars are hitting the street, possibly endangering riders.

Besides a potential lack of insurance or valid driver’s license, renegade cab drivers might not have passed a background test, all of which are required of SF’s legit taxi drivers.

And they might try to rip you off. According to CBS5, inspectors have seen at least one bandit cab “rigged to charge double what a real San Francisco taxi would charge.”

The SFMTA says the bandits are also robbing legitimate taxis of valuable profit, as medallions are expensive enough to leave many drivers starting their day almost $200 in the hole.

Some things to look for when hailing a cab: Does it say “San Francisco Taxicab” on the back and side? Is there a sticker showing that the cab is licensed to work at SFO? If so, chances are your cab is for real.

Another thing to look for is whether or not the cab’s phone number has an area code. If it doesn’t, you may have encountered a bandit taxi.

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the author

Always in motion. April Siese writes about music, takes photos at shows, and even helps put them on behind the scenes as a stagehand. She's written everything from hard news to beauty features, as well as fiction and poetry. She most definitely likes pie.

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  • dantsea

    The next time I take a cab ride, the only thing I’ll note is that the driver stopped, picked me up, and delivered me to my destination in a timely manner. I’m not sure why the local taxi special interest groups are so upset about this, as they’ve proven time and time again by sailing past me and other locals trying to flag them down that they don’t actually want my business. They created this second market through their actions.

  • dantsea

    The next time I take a cab ride, the only thing I’ll note is that the driver stopped, picked me up, and delivered me to my destination in a timely manner. I’m not sure why the local taxi special interest groups are so upset about this, as they’ve proven time and time again by sailing past me and other locals trying to flag them down that they don’t actually want my business. They created this second market through their actions.

  • turtle276

    There is a reason that “more of these bandit cabs” are hitting the streets. There simply are not enough cabs to meet demand during peak hours. Until the SFMTA stops acting as a protection racket for cab drivers, I will not worry about “legit” cab drivers losing out on profit.

  • turtle276

    There is a reason that “more of these bandit cabs” are hitting the streets. There simply are not enough cabs to meet demand during peak hours. Until the SFMTA stops acting as a protection racket for cab drivers, I will not worry about “legit” cab drivers losing out on profit.

  • SFOG

    My Wife and I like to go to the Richmond and Sunset sometimes for dinner at some of the great old school restaurants in those neighborhoods. We plan to enjoy a cocktail so we don’t drive. Its easy to get a cab where we live (Lower Haight) but to get a cab home, next to impossible. If we ask the restaurants to call they say it’s pointless. We end up walking done Geary and eventually we flag a cab. Now we use Uber the car service to get home. It’s cost effective for going crosstown but not for short hops. The first time we used it it was 8 dollars more for the same in a cab with a tip. We waited 10 minutes, the car was new, clean, the driver was courteous, didn’t blast music, didn’t drive like a maniac, and best of all didn’t reek of tobacco or cologne. Also there is no tipping its included.

  • SFOG

    My Wife and I like to go to the Richmond and Sunset sometimes for dinner at some of the great old school restaurants in those neighborhoods. We plan to enjoy a cocktail so we don’t drive. Its easy to get a cab where we live (Lower Haight) but to get a cab home, next to impossible. If we ask the restaurants to call they say it’s pointless. We end up walking done Geary and eventually we flag a cab. Now we use Uber the car service to get home. It’s cost effective for going crosstown but not for short hops. The first time we used it it was 8 dollars more for the same in a cab with a tip. We waited 10 minutes, the car was new, clean, the driver was courteous, didn’t blast music, didn’t drive like a maniac, and best of all didn’t reek of tobacco or cologne. Also there is no tipping its included.