There is a downside to free merchandise from Amazon that has been delivered to your door.
The Better Business Bureau said the scam is called ‘brushing’ and involves boxes of unordered merchandise from Amazon suddenly arriving at your doorstep, with 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, a hand warmer, a flashlight, a bluetooth speaker and a computer vacuum cleaner arrived at one address.
The companies sending the items are usually foreign, third-party sellers using your address and Amazon information. The Better Business Bureau said the companies want to create the impression 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 Better Business Bureau said the fact someone was able to have the items sent to you as if you purchased them suggests they have some of your Amazon account information — your name and address and, possibly, your phone number and a password. If your credit card is linked to your Amazon account, they could use it to purchase the products that are delivered to you.
The Better Business Bureau said there is also the porch pirate angle to consider when receiving unsolicited items.
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. 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 states you have a legal right to keep unordered merchandise sent to you.