You may of just heard of "brushing scams" last week when the 'Seeds from China' started showing up across the country. Brushing scams have been around for a while but seem to be more pervasive of late.
If you are receiving packages, or any type of merchandise from Amazon or other retailers that you didn't order and isn't a birthday gift from Grandma, it could possibly be a "brushing scam". Better Business Bureau says do not open them. This scam could mean trouble for the victims.
WHAT IS A BRUSHING SCAM?
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the companies are usually foreign, third-party sellers that send the items using the address they found on the website. Their intention is to make it appear as though the recipient wrote a positive online review of the merchandise and that they are a verified buyer.
- These companies will then post a fake, positive review to improve their own products’ ratings to increase their sales. The packages usually do not have a return address and the recipient typically has no idea who may of ordered the items.
SERIOUS PROBLEMS FOR VICTIMS
The BBB outlined the serious indications the brushing scams have for victims.
- First, the fact that the companies were able to send the items could indicate that they hold personal information of the recipient, such as name, address and possibly phone number. If sensitive personal information is on the internet, it could be used for a number of fraudulent purposes.
- Additionally, there are instances where “porch thieves” use other people’s mailing addresses and accounts, watch for the delivery of a package and steal it from the door before the resident retrieves it.
WHAT TO DO
- For victims of brushing scams, the BBB recommends directly notifying retailers, such as Amazon, who have strict policies against brushing and fake reviews.
- Changing your account passwords for online retailers and credit cards could further help prevent brushing scams.
- The BBB has a scam tracker that you can report scams, but can also see the scams in your area.
Phylissia Clark of the Better Business Bureau told CBS DFW that if you are a victim of brushing, "your identity has been compromised."