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If you receive 'free' Amazon packages, it's likely a 'brushing' scam

So, you got some unexpected and unordered free stuff from Amazon delivered right to your doorstep. Don't celebrate.
Amazon probing mystery packages sent to university student society offices.

So, you got some unexpected and unordered free stuff from Amazon delivered right to your doorstep. Don't celebrate.

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that there is a scary downside to this recent scam, where phony companies benefit from your delivery jackpot.

How the scam works

The scam is called 'brushing', and BBB has started to receive reports across North America about it. Boxes of unordered merchandise from Amazon will suddenly start arriving at your doorstep. You have no idea who ordered the items for you. There is no return address except that of Amazon. As for the items being delivered, they are also quite varied. In one case reported to BBB Scam Tracker, a humidifier, hand warmer, flashlight, bluetooth speaker and a computer vacuum cleaner arrived.

Why would such merchandise be sent to you?

The companies sending the items are usually foreign, third-party sellers that are using your address and Amazon information. They want to create the impression that you are a verified purchaser of their products and have written a glowing online review about them. They then use your account information to post a fake, positive review to improve their product ratings, which means more sales for them. The payoff is highly profitable from their perspective.

Why is this bad news for you?

The fact that someone was able to have the items sent to you as if you purchased them suggests that they have some of your Amazon account information. Certainly, they have your name and address, and possibly, your phone number and a password. Once the information is out there, it could be used for numerous crooked enterprises. If your credit card is linked to your Amazon account, they could use it to purchase the products that are delivered to you. In the end, they get the money for the purchase, increased sales numbers, and seemingly all positive reviews.

Then there is the 'porch pirate' angle. There are instances where thieves use other people’s mailing addresses and accounts, then watch for the delivery of the package so they can steal it from your door before you get it.

What can you do?

  • Notify Amazon. Brushing and fake reviews are against Amazon’s policies, so contact Customer Service if this happens to you. They will investigate and take action on the bad actor. Go directly to Amazon’s website to get their contact information. Be cautious while searching for support phone numbers.
  • Change your account passwords. This may be a sign that your personal information has been compromised. You may want to consider a password manager service to improve account security. Keep a close eye on your credit report and credit card bills.
  • You are allowed to keep the merchandise. In British Columbia, the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act says you have a legal right to keep unordered merchandise sent to you, said the BBB.

If you have spotted a scam, even if you have not lost any money, report it to Your report can prevent others from being victimized.