BBB warns of ‘brushing scams’ as Americans report receipt of unordered packages

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UNITED STATES (WJW) — The Better Business Bureau is warning Americans about a “brushing scam” that involves unknown senders shipping boxes of unordered merchandise to a consumer’s home.

According to the BBB, the unordered merchandise typically comes from Amazon or other retailers in a box without a return address or any other identifying information. The recipient usually has no idea who ordered these items.

The companies shipping the products are usually foreign, third-party sellers that send the items using the address they found on the website, the BBB reports. The companies will then post a fake, positive review on their website and make it appear as if the recipient wrote it. This helps the company look like a “verified buyer.”

The BBB says packages that are part of brushing scams have been popping up all over the country.

The items inside the packages have been varied. For example, in one case a humidifier, a hand warmer, a flashlight, a Bluetooth speaker and a computer vacuum cleaner arrived unordered.

However, most often the items received are lightweight and inexpensive to ship, such as ping pong balls, or more recently, seeds from China.

The organization has outlined why being a victim of a brushing scam has proven to be bad for the consumer:

  • Companies have the recipient’s personal information, such as name, address and possibly phone number. This sensitive information could be used for various fraudulent activities.
  • The recipient could be a victim of “porch pirates” who are using other people’s mailing addresses and accounts, watching for package deliveries and then stealing them from the porch/door before the resident retrieves them.
  • Brushing scams increase the foreign company’s sales and often result in “positive reviews,” which looks good for the company and ultimately helps lead to more sales.

Americans who are targeted in brushing scams are encouraged to notify the selling platform or retailer, such as Amazon, as these companies often have strict policies against brushing and fake reviews.

Victims are often encouraged to change their account passwords as brushing scams may be a sign that personal information has been compromised. These individuals should also keep a close eye on credit reports and credit card bills.

Lastly, the BBB says that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, victims of brushing scams have a right to keep their unordered merchandise.

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