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  • Aug 17, 2023

Tech Talk with Jeff - Brushing Scam...a what?

This one is a bit different.

I can’t say I have ever heard of it before, but now that I have, it’s a great time to talk a bit about it. There is always a new scam angle out there to learn about. So, what the heck is a brushing scam? Here is an example:

You receive a product, typically through Amazon or a similar vendor, that you did not order. You look through your orders and it is not listed. Using the return address, if there is one, you realize it was shipped from an Amazon warehouse. You don’t recognize the company name that sent it and there is no information on who or how to contact someone. Unknown to you, this item has been sent to you to beef up a company’s rating. Quite often, a positive review is left on that company’s site in your name. This is a brushing scam. It is used to improve a seller’s ratings and make that vendor seem more official to any potential buyers of their products and to increase their score with the company they sell through, like Amazon.

Why do they do this and go through the expense of shipping it to you? Because it helps drive more sales.  It makes people who read the reviews think it is valid and a good product/company. This is really an odd one, but it does exist.

The downside is that someone is using your name in a way you did not give permission for, and they most likely obtained your information from a stolen database of information about you. That means fraudsters have your personal information and are using it.

What can you do? Monitor your accounts, change your passwords, and notify the company that shipped it to you, like Amazon. Brushing is illegal. Please note that when you are sent something you did not ask for, you are not obligated to return it or pay for it. Certainly, don’t pay to ship it back. Please be careful to check the addressing to make sure it wasn’t meant for one of your neighbors.

Notify the vendor whose service was used to send the item, organizations like the BBB, and any other bureau of the government that tracks these types of scams. Doing a search online for brushing scams will turn up a wealth of information. 

Notifying Amazon is very easy. They have a link to submit a complaint: Report Unsolicited Package or Brushing Scams - Amazon Customer Service

As always, the best defense is knowledge. So, keep learning and protecting yourself.

Be aware and be safe!

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