CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – If you received a package at your doorstep that you did not order, it may be part of a so-called “brushing scam.”
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the unordered merchandise typically comes from Amazon or other retailers in a box with no return address and the recipient usually has no idea who ordered the items. The third-party sellers that are sending the items will then post a fake, positive review on their website. It appears as if the recipient wrote it, helping the company look like it’s from a “verified buyer,” with the intention of boosting sales.
Some examples reported to the BBB include a Bluetooth speaker or often lightweight, inexpensive items to ship, such as ping pong balls, face masks, or seeds from China. Amazon urges consumers to report the item they didn’t order so appropriate investigation can be taken of “brushing” violators.
The Longmeadow Police received several reports last week that residents received a package not addressed to anyone at the home. Later, a Hispanic man wearing a multi-colored vest arrived in an older white model sedan claiming to work for Amazon, FedEx, and UPS and asks the residents for the package back claiming there was an error.
This “porch pirate” angle, according to the BBB, are thieves that use other people’s mailing addresses and accounts. They then watch for the delivery of the package and take it from the door before the resident gets it.
While a brushing scam may appear to be a victimless crime, your personal information could actually be compromised.
22News spoke with Milagros Johnson, from the Mayor’s Office Consumer Information in Springfield, about what you can do to avoid being a potential target for scammers.
“Avoid sharing too much personal information on your social media accounts,” Johnson recommends. “Consumers are often too liberal with what information they post. So be more restrictive with what information you share with others. Keep your accounts private.”
If you have received an unsolicited package, contact your local police department, notify the retailer, and change your account passwords since a package that was addressed to you may indicate someone has accessed your personal information such as your name, address, and possibly, your phone number.
Can you keep the unordered merchandise? The Federal Trade Commission says yes, “by law, companies can’t send unordered merchandise to you, then demand payment. That means you never have to pay for things you get but didn’t order. You also don’t have to return unordered merchandise. You’re legally entitled to keep it as a free gift.”