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Amazon shipping scam
Security & privacy

Getting Amazon packages you didn’t order? It might be a scam

If you shop Amazon often enough, you’ve probably experienced the occasional package or two showing up you forgot you even ordered. Nothing wrong with that.

But have you ever received Amazon deliveries you definitely didn’t order? You’re not the only one, and there’s a good chance it wasn’t sent by mistake.

Although it sounds like a great problem to have, it could very well be part of an international scam that’s been making the rounds for some time now. And if you’re the recipient of these unsolicited packages, it could also mean some of your personal information has been compromised.

The ‘brushing’ scam

This particular package delivery scam is known as “brushing” and it works like this: An online seller somewhere overseas will create a fake buyer account on Amazon (or other e-commerce sites) so they can purchase their own stuff, then send those products to home addresses in the U.S. But why would they do that?

These sellers are in it for the short-term loss, long-term gain. Once they buy and ship their own goods to others, they’re considered verified purchasers through Amazon. And that means the sellers, posing as buyers, can then write positive reviews for their own products. Products with good reviews climb the ladder in Amazon search results and voila, the seller starts to generate more sales based on those phony testimonials.

Bonus: Popular smartphone apps are selling your location data without your knowledge

Amazon investigates these reports and will shut down third-party sellers and reviewers who take part in this abuse of the company’s system. But some people have reported receiving random packages regularly over the course of months, so it can take some time.

What this scam means for you

If you randomly get swept up in this scam, it’s not just about getting “free” products – even if they turn out to be goods you would probably order anyway. Now you need to wonder about your own information.

For instance, why you? Random selection or not, it still means your name, address and possibly other details are in the hands of these sellers and potentially others. So try to figure out where the info might have come from. Last year, a Massachusetts couple told CBS News they had recently purchased a guitar accessory from a vendor in China. Soon after, the floodgates opened for all kinds of products they never ordered which continued for months.

If this has happened to you, take the time to check on your own compromised personal details. Then report any “brushing” instances to Amazon for further investigation. Click or tap here for more information.

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