Have you ever had a delivery guy knock on your door and wondered if there’s yet another package you impulsively added to the cart and then forgot about? Well, you might be receiving a product you never ordered.
Instead of it being the delivery website’s fault, it’s likely that you might be a part of a brushing scam.
What is a Brushing Scam?
A brushing scam is when someone delivers unmarked, mysterious packages to your doorstep without asking for payment. The website from where you allegedly received the product gets a review of the product under your name — again, not initially provided by you.
In a nutshell, it’s a form of identity theft in the e-commerce world. Like mail frauds and ghost sellers, brushing scams are another activity that can potentially stir up quite a bit of trouble in any website’s buyer and seller community.
How Do Brushing Scams Work?
To keep their products on a specific seller’s website or community, increase their profit margin or avail other perks, a brand might need a certain number of sales and positive reviews. However, when these sellers aren’t receiving many sales or favorable feedback, they might fake their sales and reviews.
How does this happen?
- A company packs the product it wants to sell under the e-commerce store banner where its products are placed, such as Amazon.
- They enter your address and other credentials, which allow the website to register you as an authentic buyer.
- If the store has a verification system through email or phone numbers, the counterfeiting company may also use fake addresses and numbers to cover up the scam.
- Once the product reaches your hands, the e-commerce store marks the sale as complete.
- Having a verified customer on a product permits the seller, pretending to be “you,” to post a product review.
- The company then posts a fake positive review of the purchase.
- With enough positive reviews, bulk sales, and multiple restocking rounds, the company has a more robust ranking in the e-commerce world.
Do Brushing Scams Occur Often?
It’s hard to tell, for sure. Indeed, a wrongly delivered product isn’t always a result of a scam.
Delivery service mess-ups, wrong delivery addresses, and other mistakes from buyers and sellers in the e-commerce industry might also get you stuck with a product you never ordered.
Still, with the increase in both activities across the internet, there’s always a high chance of the delivery being a brushing scam.
How Do Brushing Scammers Steal Your Name and Address?
Scammers can steal your name and address in several ways, including:
- Data breaches: When a company’s database is hacked, the attacker can access your personal information, including your name and address. The attacker can then use this information for fraudulent activities, including brushing scams.
- Social engineering: Scammers can use social engineering techniques, such as phishing emails or phone calls, to trick you into giving away your personal information. For example, they may send you an email that appears to be from a legitimate company, asking you to update your personal information, including your name and address. Once you provide the information, the scammer can use it for fraudulent activities.
- Public records: Scammers can obtain your name and address from public records, such as property tax records, voter registration databases, or court documents. This information is usually publicly available and can be accessed by anyone.
- Online activity: Your name and address can also be obtained through your online activity, such as filling out forms, making purchases, or creating social media profiles. To obtain personal information, scammers can use various methods, such as keylogging, phishing, or social engineering.
How Brushing Scams Can Hurt You
Brushing scams can be harmful in several ways. They may indicate that your personal information has been stolen, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft and financial fraud. Additionally, scammers can make more money and continue to scam others, perpetuating the cycle of fraud.
Furthermore, you may end up paying more for low-quality products, while fake reviews can make online shopping riskier. Therefore, you must be aware of brushing scams and take precautions to help protect your personal information and make informed purchasing decisions.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Hit By A Brushing Scam?
If you suspect that a brushing scam has targeted you, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Contact the online retailer: If you have received unsolicited packages, contact the retailer or seller to report the incident and request that they stop sending you packages.
- Monitor your accounts: Check your online accounts for unauthorized activity or orders you did not place. If you notice any suspicious activity, change your passwords immediately.
- Report the scam: Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local law enforcement agency.
- Stay vigilant: Monitor your accounts and credit report regularly to ensure no further fraudulent activity occurs.
By taking these steps, you can minimize the damage and prevent further unauthorized activity if a brushing scam has hit you. Remember to act quickly to protect your personal information and privacy.
Can I Keep the Items?
If you receive unsolicited packages due to a brushing scam, you may wonder whether you can keep them. According to the FTC, you are generally allowed to keep unordered packages addressed to you.
Brushing Scam FAQs
Why Did I Get a Random Package that I Didn’t Order?
Fraudsters could exploit your personal information to generate fake reviews or establish fake accounts online. They may also ship unordered packages to your address to make it appear as if you have bought something, allowing them to leave a positive review for the product.
This fraudulent activity can manipulate the product’s rating, deceive customers, and drive-up sales for the scammer.
Are Brushing Scams Illegal?
Yes, brushing scams are illegal because they often involve activities like identity theft, fraud, and counterfeiting, which are all illegal.
Why Is It Called a Brushing Scam?
Brushing scams get their name because scammers “brush up” the reputation of a product or seller by sending unordered packages to unsuspecting individuals and then leaving fake positive reviews of the product. The aim is to make it appear as though the product is more popular than it is, thereby increasing sales and profits.
How Do I Avoid a Brushing Scam?
Here are some ways to help avoid brushing scams:
- Be cautious of unsolicited packages and verify whether you made the order.
- Keep your personal information private and secure.
- Regularly monitor your financial accounts for any unauthorized charges.
- Use strong and unique passwords for your online accounts.
- Report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
Brushing scams can cause harm to your privacy, lead to unsolicited packages, and contribute to the spread of fake reviews. If you think you’ve been a victim of a brushing scam, take immediate action to protect your personal information and financial accounts.
Consider signing up for IdentityIQ identity theft protection services like to help safeguard yourself from potential fraud.