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Receive a package you didn't order? You might be a victim of a brushing scam

Received a package in the mail you didn’t order? You could be a brushing scam victim
Received a package in the mail you didn’t order? You could be a brushing scam victim 02:20

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Have you ever received a package in the mail that you didn't order? 

Sounds nice, right? Well, experts say you could be a victim of a brushing scam, and your personal information may be at risk.   

The scam is nothing new. You may recall during the pandemic when people were getting those random seeds in the mail? This is related, and could be a sign that your personal information's been compromised. 

"When I opened it I got to find out that there was some really exciting baby reveal balloons!" said Anna Hutchinson, of St. Paul.

She was confused when she opened an Amazon package on Monday. Not only is she not expecting a baby, but she didn't order the items in the package, which also included cupcake stands.

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"Very random," she said.

The St. Paul teacher was hoping the package had her school supplies she ordered for her classroom. She asked around to her neighbors if they were missing anything and that's when she was alerted she may be a victim of a brushing scam.  

"Brushing scams seem harmless, and sometimes even a little exciting, it's like Christmas has arrived," said Bao Vang, vice president of communications at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Minnesota and North Dakota. "You receive packages in the mail in which you never pay for. In this case, the sender benefits."  


Vang says scammers are trying to cheat the online review system, which skews searches on Amazon. If third-party sellers send items to people, it makes it a "verified purchase."

"With that stamp of approval, boy, they can do a lot of things. They can go online and post positive reviews on your behalf, and if those comments start to add up, they can manipulate and skew a ratings-and-review system to gain more customers," Vang said.

If you receive an unwanted package, it may mean your personal information is at risk.

"If a piece of mail is arriving at your doorstep, they for sure have your name and your home address, and those two things can lead to other things," Vang said.

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If you get a random package, notify the retailer, like Amazon. Change your passwords, report the scam, and monitor your bank account.

"I think I'm just going to keep an eye out on just all my personal information, you know, make sure other stuff isn't compromised down the road," Hutchinson said.

The BBB says so far this year, they've had reports of eight to 10 brushing scams, up since previous years. 

As for the item you received, feel free to keep it. The Federal Trade Commission says you have a legal right to keep unordered merchandise.

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