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What is a brushing scam?

What is a brushing scam?

If you receive items or packages that you never ordered, you could be a victim of a brush scam. Brushing scams are illegal in the United States and many other countries. Although you may be surprised to receive items you didn’t expect, brushing scams can be a symptom of identity theft. If you receive packages that you weren’t expecting, there are a few steps you might want to consider taking.

What is a brushing scam?

A brush scam is a term that refers to receiving parcels or parcels that you did not order. There are a variety of reasons why bad actors set up brushing scams. One of the reasons may be to artificially inflate product reviews on online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. The seller sends you his product (at his expense). Then, once you are a verified buyer of the product, they use your account information to post a favorable review.

Favorable reviews from verified buyers can positively impact future sales, so the seller may find it financially profitable to engage in brushing. This is especially true if the item in question doesn’t cost that much and is lightweight and inexpensive to ship. Brushing is fraudulent and illegal in the United States and many other countries.

Why is a brushing scam bad?

If you receive items that you did not purchase as part of a brushing scam, you may be wondering what the problem is. After all, you have extra items and you didn’t have to pay for them. You may like to get these articles or find them useful. As with many other types of frauds and scams, the facts are a bit more complicated.

Brushing scams can often be an indicator of identity theft or your account credentials being compromised. In some cases, scammers can use your account information and address to order and receive goods. Then they plan to steal the packages from your home (and leave you on the hook).

What should I do if I have been the victim of a brushing scam?

If you have received unsolicited items and believe you have been the target of a brushing scam, here are some things the United States Postal Inspection Service suggest you can do:

  • Do not pay for the goods – sellers may contact you and use high-pressure tactics to try to get you to pay.
  • Return items to sender – if the package is unopened, you can mark it as “Return to sender” and the postal service will return it to the sender free of charge.
  • Change your account passwords — Go through your online accounts and make sure you have secure passwords that you change regularly.
  • Contact the merchant — If the item was shipped from an online retailer such as Amazon or eBay, contact the merchant to report the package and have any notices removed as fraudulent.
  • Monitor your credit report – enjoy a free credit report to ensure that there are no unexpected or inaccurate entries.

Can I keep the items?

The Federal Trade Commission has stated that you are not required to pay for unsolicited items and that you can keep them if you wish. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t know where these items come from or what quality they might have, so it’s possible they’re more dangerous than expected. If you think the items you received may be dangerous or too suspicious, you can always contact local law enforcement or the United States Postal Inspection Service.

The essential

A brush scam is a type of fraudulent activity where scammers can send you unsolicited items or packages. In some cases, this is to then use your online account information to write a fake review as a “verified buyer”. Although this may seem like a victimless crime, it may be a sign that your online identity or accounts may have been compromised. It may be a good idea to monitor your credit report or change your online account security information.

If you believe you have been the victim of a brushing scam, you have the option of keeping the items if you wish, as you are not legally obligated to pay for them. Or, if the package has not been opened, you can mark it “Return to sender” and the Post Office will send it back to you free of charge. If an item you receive seems too suspicious or dangerous, report it to the postal inspection service and/or your local police.

Dan Miller
Dan Miller

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families travel for free/cheap. His home base is Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 children. More Dan Miller

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