Have you heard of the Amazon package scam called “brushing?”
This scheme involves receiving random packages from Amazon you didn’t order that just show up on your doorstep.
Now, you might be reading this thinking, “Wow, that would be a great problem to have.” But there’s a reason why it’s more troubling than it seems at first glance!
Amazon Brushing: Why Getting Random Amazon Packages Is NOT a Good Thing
The Amazon brushing scam might seem harmless at first, but the danger is really threefold.
- First, it means that your name, shipping address and possibly phone number have been compromised. It’s possible that this might happen when you’re dealing with less-than-reputable third-party sellers on Amazon.
- Second, and even more concerning, what happens if a phantom seller ships contraband to your home? You could find yourself charged with possession of illegal drugs or banned weapons — instead of the phantom seller.
- Finally, a crime like this has a hidden financial cost. Somebody has to pay for the lost merchandise and the shipping costs, right? That person is likely to be you, the Amazon customer — in the form of higher costs for the things you legitimately order.
Amazon Brushing Scam Hits Couple’s Doorstep
It all started innocently enough for a Massachusetts couple named Michael and Kelly Gallivan when a hand warmer showed up unannounced from Amazon. The only problem was the Gallivans didn’t order it, CBS News reports.
So the couple called Amazon hoping to return the wayward package. But with no order number and no return address on the rogue delivery, Amazon couldn’t help them.
After that, more Amazon packages they didn’t order started showing up — once or twice a week. Subsequent shipments included everything from a humidifier, flashlight and Bluetooth speaker to a computer vacuum cleaner and LED lights.
What’s Going On When You Receive Packages From Amazon That You Didn’t Order?
The end game here in many cases is for the seller to be able to pose as a verified purchaser and write a glowing review of their own product. Gaming the review system in this way pushes their products up higher in Amazon search results — regardless of whether the product is any good or not.
(Editor’s note: FakeSpot.com is a free website that will help you double check for any fake reviews.)
Amazon told CBS News that it investigates all customer reports of unsolicited packages and shuts down the accounts of vendors or reviewers found to be abusing the review system.
Another possible reason for Amazon brushing is that it serves as a set-up for porch pirates. Once the items hit your doorstep, the thieves spring into action and snatch up the surprise packages.
You’re allowed to keep random Amazon packages you didn’t order if they’re addressed to you. But Amazon brushing isn’t really a victimless crime:
- There may have been a breach of your customer information.
- You could be at the mercy of the scammers because you have no control over what you receive.
- We all wind up paying for brushing through higher prices.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent package theft from your doorstep, be sure to check out our 5 Tips to Keep Your Packages Safe From Porch Pirates.