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If you receive items or packages that you never ordered, you could be a victim of a brush scam. Cleaning fraud is illegal in the United States and many other countries. While you can enjoy the surprise of receiving items you weren’t expecting, brush fraud can be a symptom of identity theft. If you receive packages that you are not expecting, there are a few steps you should consider.
What is a brush scam?
A brush scam is a term related to receiving packages or packages that you did not order. There are a multitude of reasons why bad actors start brush cheating. One reason can be to artificially inflate product ratings on online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. The seller ships their product to you (at their expense). Once you are a verified buyer of the product, they use your account information to leave a positive review.
Positive reviews from verified buyers can have a positive impact on future sales, so the seller may find that brushing is financially viable to engage in. This is especially true if the item in question doesn’t cost that much and is easy and inexpensive to ship. Brushing is fraudulent and illegal in the United States and many other countries.
Why is a brush scam bad?
When you receive items that you didn’t purchase as part of a cleaning scam, you might be wondering what the big deal is. After all, you got extra items and didn’t have to pay for them. You might enjoy getting these items or find them useful. As with many other types of scams and scams, the facts are a bit more complicated.
Brushing fraud can often be an indicator of identity theft or compromise of your account credentials. In some cases, scammers can use your account information and address to order and receive goods. Then they plan to steal the packages from your house (and leave you on the hook).
What should I do if I’ve been hit by a cleaning scam?
If you’ve received unsolicited items and suspect you may have been the target of a brush scam, here are a few things the United States Postal Inspection Service suggests:
- Don’t pay for the goods — Sellers may contact you and use high-pressure tactics to try to get you to pay for it.
- Return the items to the sender — If the package is unopened, you can mark it as “return to sender” and the postal service will send it back to the sender free of charge.
- Change your account passwords — Search your online accounts and make sure you have strong passwords that you change regularly.
- Contact the retailer — If the item was shipped from an online retailer such as Amazon or eBay, contact the retailer to report the package and have all reviews removed as fraudulent.
- Monitor your credit report — Use a free credit report to make sure there are no unexpected or inaccurate entries.
Can I keep the items?
The Federal Trade Commission has stated that you do not have to pay for unsolicited items and can keep them if you wish. However, keep in mind that you don’t know where these items came from or what quality they might be, so it’s possible they’re more dangerous than you expect. If you believe that items you have received may be dangerous or overly suspicious, you can always contact your local law enforcement agency or the US Postal Inspection.
The final result
A brush scam is a type of fraudulent activity where scammers may send you unwanted items or packages. In some cases, this is to use your online account information to write a fake review as a “verified buyer”. While this may seem like a victimless crime, it can be a sign that your identity or online accounts may have been compromised. It may be a good idea to monitor your credit report or change your online account security information.
If you feel like you have been the victim of a cleaning scam, you have the option to keep the items if you wish as you are not legally required to pay for them. Or, if the package hasn’t been opened, you can mark it ‘return to sender’ and the post office will send it back to you free of charge. If an item you receive seems overly suspicious or dangerous, report it to the Postal Inspection and/or your local law enforcement agency.
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