Uber has strongly denied claims made in a Buzzfeed report that it has received thousands of complaints through its customer services system for rape and sexual assault relating to an Uber ride over the course of the last three years.

Responding to the report, Uber published a strongly-worded denial of the claims made by Buzzfeed, and revealed that in the period between December 2012 and August 2015, it had logged five tickets on its customer service system that allege an actual rape occurred while 170 tickets with a legitimate claim of sexual assault were logged.

These figures, however, do not include attacks which were reported directly to law enforcement — even if Uber found out about the attacks subsequently. Uber says when serious incidents are reported, it contacts the person who filed the report and engages with law enforcement. It also temporarily suspends the driver or rider (if it is a question of violence by a passenger) during the investigation.

Buzzfeed had previously published screenshots leaked by a former Uber customer services representative which suggested the problem at the ride-hailing company was much bigger. The leaked screenshots showed that a search for “sexual assault” returned over 6,000 tickets while a search for the word “rape” returned 5,827 individual tickets.

Uber says these results are misleading for a number of reasons. Firstly, if the driver or riders' name or email address contains the letters r, a, p and e consecutively, then it would show up as part of these results. Also the company says riders routinely misspell the word “rate” as “rape” and any ticket which uses terms like “rape my wallet” would also be included in the numbers.

In relation to the huge number of tickets with the term “sexual assault,”  Uber claims this figure is inflated as the results show “tickets from passengers who got into cars not on the Uber platform, or who were discussing unsubstantiated media reports of sexual assaults.”

While Uber has admitted it has received five ticket that allege an actual rape occurred, Buzzfeed’s report includes a screenshot of nine complaint tickets with the subject line of “rape” and these results do not appear to be the result of misspellings or driver or rider names or emails with a letter sequence of “rape.”

Uber’s response to the Buzzfeed report was published on Medium and written by Joe Sullivan, who is the company’s Chief Safety Officer. The company said it was attempting to track down the source of the leak by contacting its customer service agents who recently searched for the terms “sexual assault” and “rape” in the system. “We are unsurprisingly concerned that sensitive, personal and confidential data has been shared with people outside Uber,” Sullivan said.