LOS ANGELES - Have you encountered box loads of merchandise from Amazon on your porch that you didn’t order? Better not to touch them: A scam popping up in the U.S. could mean trouble for victims.
This scam, also called “brushing,” involves unknown senders shipping boxes of various, unordered merchandise from Amazon and other retailers. The boxes usually have no return address and the receiver typically has no idea who ordered the items.
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 Better Business Bureau 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.
For victims of brushing scams, the BBB recommends directly notifying retailers, such as Amazon, who have strict policies against brushing and fake reviews.
Changing account passwords for online retailers and credit cards could further help prevent brushing scams.