Free merchandise from Amazon left right on your doorstep – what could possibly be bad about that? Plenty, it turns out.
In this con, often called “brushing,” scam companies use the names and addresses of real people to create phony orders and fake customer reviews, according to the Better Business Bureau.
How the scam works
The scam works like this: Amazon boxes with no return address show up on your doorstep. You didn’t place the order and you have no idea who did. The items are varied. In one case, a humidifier, a hand warmer, a flashlight, a Bluetooth speaker and a computer vacuum cleaner all arrived unordered.
After ordering items in your name, these companies – usually overseas, third-party sellers – use your Amazon information to post a glowing review of their merchandise. These fake, positive reviews improve their products’ ratings, which means more sales.
The practice of brushing is unscrupulous, but it could also be dangerous for victims, BBB representatives said. If someone were able to send items to your name and address, they probably have your Amazon account information. Once your info is out there, it could be used in numerous crooked enterprises.
Tips to avoid the scam
The BBB recommends taking the following steps to avoid being scammed.
• Notify Amazon. Go directly to Amazon’s website to find its contact information. Be cautious when searching for support phone numbers.
• Report the fake review to Amazon. Help other shoppers by reporting phony reviews.
• Change your account passwords. 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.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says you have a legal right to keep unordered merchandise.
For information, visit bbb.org/scamtips.