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UNDERCOVER CABBIE: What is Bilking? Is it a civil matter?

Updated: May 8, 2023



Taxi bilking refers to the act of avoiding paying for a taxi ride. It can occur in a variety of ways, such as by leaving the taxi without paying the fare, or by pretending to have forgotten one's wallet or purse and not paying the fare when it is due.


In the UK, taxi bilking is considered a form of theft and can result in criminal charges being brought against the person who engages in this behaviour.

If a taxi driver in the UK believes that they have been bilked, or that a passenger is attempting to avoid paying the fare, they should follow the following steps:

  1. Remain calm and try to de-escalate the situation.

  2. If the passenger has already left the vehicle, make a note of the time, location, and any identifying details about the passenger and the vehicle they were in (such as the license plate number).

  3. If the passenger is still in the vehicle, try to get their contact information (such as their name and phone number).

  4. Contact the police and report the incident.

  5. If the passenger has left the vehicle, consider contacting the local authorities to see if they can help locate the individual and recover the unpaid fare.

It is important for taxi drivers to remember that they have the right to refuse service to passengers who they believe may attempt to bilk them, and that they should not put themselves in harm's way in order to collect a fare.

Bilking can have a significant impact on taxi drivers. For one, it can result in a loss of income for the driver, as they are not being paid for the services they have provided. This can be particularly detrimental for drivers who rely on the income from their fares to make a living.


In addition to the financial impact, bilking can also create a sense of frustration and anger for the driver, and can lead to feelings of distrust and resentment towards passengers.


In some cases, bilking may even result in physical confrontations or altercations between drivers and passengers. It is important for both drivers and passengers to respect each other and to ensure that fares are paid in a timely and fair manner.


Is Bilking a civil matter?


In some cases, bilking may also give rise to a civil lawsuit, in which the driver or the taxi company may seek to recover the unpaid fare through a civil court action.


However, in general, bilking is considered a criminal offense and is dealt with through the criminal justice system.

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